The fourth-ranked Stanford women's basketball team survived another slow start, senior All-American Chiney Ogwumike continues trending as the nation's best all-around player and senior Mikaela Ruef recorded double figures in rebounds for the 11th time this season.
Chiney Ogwumike/Photo by Norbert von der Groeben/Isiphotos.com
"It wasn't as good as I would have liked it to be," Cardinal coach Tara VanDerveer said. "But these kinds of games at this time of the year are probably really good for us. This was a very physical game. I knew it would be. They're aggressive. We need these kinds of games, so it's good."
Stanford (15-1, 26-2) has either won or shared the past 14 conference titles, something that might have been in doubt had Ogwumike not made her presence felt in a game yet again.
Ogwumike, who finished with 26 points, 15 rebounds, five blocked shots, four steals (along with four turnovers) and an assist, scored three points in the game's first 18 minutes on 1-of-6 shooting.
If you were guessing the Bruins were leading at the time, you'd be correct. They led most of the first, oh say, 18 minutes of the contest. And yes, there's a correlation.
You see, once Ogwumike got going, scoring her final 23 points on 8-of-13 shooting over 22 minutes, the Cardinal also got going and took the lead for good when Ogwumike scored Stanford's final six points of the first half.
"It's so amazing playing here," Ogwumike said. "First of all, it's a beautiful facility. Second of all, they have John Wooden quotes everywhere. How can you not be inspired to play here? And we have a good tradition here in the Pac-12."
Ogwumike moved into second place on Stanford's all-time scoring list with 2,511 points, assuming the spot formerly held by her older sister Nnemkadi Ogwumike. She is 119 points away from breaking Candice Wiggins' school and Pac-12 record of 2,629 points.
Ogwumike will get closer to that mark when the Cardinal host Washington, possibly looking for a little revenge, on Thursday at 8 p.m. (Pac-12 Networks).
Ogwumike continues to extend her Pac-12 rebounding mark to 1,459, quite possibly setting the bar a mile or two higher for the next would-be recordholder.
She has two more rebounds than Robert Morris' 6-2 senior Artemis Spanou, who plays Monday night, for first on the active rebounding list and is currently 10th all-time in NCAA history.
One more Ogwumike stat: she's currently third on Stanford's all-time blocked shots list with 187, behind only Val Whiting (201) and Jayne Appel (273).
Ruef, who is eligible for her second 'Senior Night' celebration before Saturday night's 7:30 p.m. game against Washington State, now has put together workman-like efforts in back-to-back seasons and will leave Stanford a few hundred rebounds richer than some observers thought possible.
In other words, Ruef is no longer a footnote to Cardinal history -- she's earned her own chapter. After grabbing 124 rebounds through her first three years, she upped the ante and has added 502 since for a total of 626.
And junior Amber Orrange, who added 13 points to Stanford's win over the Bruins, has 840 points and 391 assists thus far. If she stays healthy, she'll join the 1,000-point, 500-assist club that currently features Sonja Henning, Jennifer Azzi, Nicole Powell and Jeannette Pohlen.
Stanford took the lead for good at 27-25 on a pair of Ogwumike free throws with a minute left in the first half, and with the lead at 40-38 with 13:50 to go in the game, the Cardinal used a 16-4 run over the next five minutes to open a 14-point cushion.
Ruef converted a three-point play with 11:22 to go to spur the run while Ogwumike added one of her own to get the Cardinal lead to 12 at 54-42 with 9:01 remaining. UCLA (12-16, 6-10 Pac-12) closed within seven at 56-49 with 6:48 to play but that would be as close as it got.