By Rick Eymer
Palo Alto Online Sports
This Pac-12 Conference race is far from over. With six games remaining, and only two at home, Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer has been game planning, not just for the present but also for future battles.
So while Chiney Ogwumike continues to do her thing, VanDerveer is looking to others for help creating valuable resources on offense.
Ogwumike recorded her eighth consecutive double-double, and the 19th of the season, as the fourth-ranked Cardinal women's basketball team downed visiting Arizona State, 69-45, on Sunday.
Stanford (11-1, 22-2) goes on the road to visit USC on Friday and No. 17 UCLA on Sunday. The Cardinal finishes the season at Washington and Washington State.
Ogwumike led everybody with 26 points (on 10-of-14 shooting) and 14 rebounds against the Sun Devils. She was joined, this time, by Joslyn Tinkle's 13 points and 11 rebounds. On Friday night is was Mikaela Ruef who stepped forward with her first career double-double.
Sophomore sharpshooter Bonnie Samuelson also decided to join the party, delivering a career high 19 points on 6-of-12 shooting (5 of 11 from long range) as VanDerveer looks to spread the offensive wealth around.
It's not the first time VanDerveer has implored her players to start taking some of the pressure off Ogwumike. But the fact that several different players have come forward in the past couple of games has to be encouraging.
Ogwumike, Tinkle and Amber Orrange each average in double figures on the season. For anyone else to step forward has become a luxury.
Samuelson, Ruef, Taylor Greenfield, Sara James and Toni Kokenis have combined to score in double figures 17 times. Ogwumike, Tinkle and Orrange have done it 56 times.
The potential is certainly there and now VanDerveer would like to see a little more consistency. Samuelson and Tinkle have done it in two of the past three games. Is Samuelson seeing the light?
"Coach pulled me aside just before the game and said 'I have confidence in you,'" Samuelson said. "I may not make every shot but that was nice to hear. I was ready to shoot every time I caught the ball."
Samuelson reached double figures in points for the third time this season as the Cardinal played without Kokenis a second straight game.
"Bonnie gave us great minutes," VanDerveer said. "It's especially challenging without Toni, who gives us that extra ballhandler and who can score. We took care of the ball better than we did against Arizona."
VanDerveer consistently praises anyone who seems capable of giving Stanford some value for their minutes. Perhaps Samuelson has taken it to heart.
"We have been working hard in practice to step it up," Samuelson said. "I think we have been challenged and a lot of us are stepping up."
The Cardinal has won its past eight, and 11 of 12 overall. Stanford has beaten Arizona State 14 consecutive times.
Stanford guard Alex Green, who began her career as a starter, returned from a torn left Achilles' tendon that had sidelined her for 15 months and played for the first time since Nov. 17, 2011.
Ogwumike scored 12 points during the final six minutes of the first half as the Cardinal went on a 17-4 run to take a 37-20 lead into halftime.
Ruef sank one of two free throws to give Stanford a 46-26 edge with over 13 minutes to play.