By Dean McArdle
After struggling to a win against a tough Arizona State team on Thursday, the Stanford women’s basketball team completed its sweep of the Arizona schools with a 91-51 blowout over Arizona on Saturday.
The superstar of Saturday’s game surprisingly was not one of the Ogwumike sisters, but instead junior Joslyn Tinkle, who led the Cardinal with a career-high 22 points along with 11 rebounds. Tinkle was one of five players in double-digits for Stanford (20-1, 11-0 Pac-12), which picked up its 17th win in a row and 21st straight victory over Arizona (13-10, 2-9).
Stanford’s starting forwards made their inside presence felt, accounting for 55 points and 27 rebounds — enough to outscore Arizona on their own. Sophomore Chiney Ogwumike poured in 18 points, and her sister, senior Nnemkadi Ogwumike, added 15 for the Cardinal.
The 40-point margin stands in stark contrast to Stanford’s pair of previous down-to-the-wire contests. Cal pushed the Cardinal to overtime on Jan. 28, and Arizona State had Stanford knotted at 40 apiece in the second half on Thursday before Stanford pulled away.
“We’ve kind of been playing people closer than we wanted to,” Stanford head coach Tara VanDerveer said of the squad’s previous games.
On Saturday, though, Stanford was clicking on all cylinders offensively, shooting just over 50 percent from the field.
The Cardinal also started to find its stroke from behind the arc, hitting eight three-pointers. The team had struggled recently from three-point land, shooting just 24 percent from deep in its last three contests.
When Stanford was off the mark it cleaned up its misses, accumulating 22 second-chance points, mostly due to the fact that the Cardinal out-rebounded the Wildcats by a margin of 48-33.
Arizona can look to its youth as a sign of better things to come. Freshman center Aley Rohde scored nine points and grabbed 11 rebounds, while sophomore guard Candice Warthen came off the bench for 13 points to pace the Wildcats.
Stanford came out swinging and leaped to a 10-0 lead in the opening three minutes. Arizona responded with seven straight points before the Cardinal went on an 18-2 run to make the score 31-9 with 9:46 left in the first half.
From there, the outcome was never in doubt.
Stanford capitalized on Wildcat mistakes with 12 points off turnovers in the first half, and the Cardinal’s lead was 20 points at the break.
The second half would prove to be more of the same. Sophomore Toni Kokenis splashed in a three on an assist from freshman Amber Orrange on Stanford’s first possession of the half and finished the game with 11 points, going 4-8 on field goals. Meanwhile, Orrange was perfect from the floor, gathering 10 points on 5-5 shooting.
Rohde sunk a free throw at the 15:45 mark to cut the Stanford lead to 27. The Cardinal responded by racking up 16 unanswered points to make the score 79-36 and put the game out of reach.
The Cardinal stepped up its defense in the second half as well. A swarm of Stanford jerseys greeted Arizona on every possession, holding the Wildcats to 21 percent shooting and just 20 points in the second half. The Ogwumike sisters walled off the paint and combined to block six Arizona shots on the day.
Fresh legs contributed to the stifling defense as well. The bench saw significant time for Stanford with 10 players getting more than 10 minutes in the game.
“I like the fact we were able to get everybody in and everyone contributed,” VanDerveer said.
Freshman forwards Erica Payne and Taylor Greenfield both tallied six points for Stanford off the bench, and senior guard Lindy La Rocque dished out four assists.
Despite the margin of victory, Arizona coach Niya Butts saw progress from her squad.
“I didn’t like the outcome, but the team did a lot of things this weekend that we really improved on,” Butts said.
Tinkle described the win as a statement game for the Cardinal.
“We really knew coming into this game what we had to do to prove to everyone — to prove to ourselves — that we are more capable, and we can reach to a higher level,” she said
The Cardinal returns home this week to face the L.A. schools at Maples Pavilion, tangling with USC on Thursday night and UCLA Sunday.