Sports

Ogwumike gave a performance worthy of a standing ovation

Leave it to Chiney Ogwumike to do something special on Senior Night even as she's done something special just about every night.

The front runner for national player of the year honors just continues to wow and pow her way to higher ground.

Ogwumike scored six of her career-high 37 points during No. 5 Stanford's 10-0 run to start the second half, and the Cardinal honored its seniors with an 84-64 win over visiting Washington State Saturday night at Maples Pavilion.

Stanford (28-2, 17-1 Pac-12), 14-time Pac-12 champions and the No. 1 seed at the Pac-12 tournament for the 13th time, opens the conference draw at Seattle's KeyArena in next Friday's quarterfinals, facing the winner of Thursday night's UCLA-Colorado first-round contest.

Ogwumike recorded her 13th 30-point game and 22nd double-double of the season, grabbing 13 rebounds to go with her 37 points.

Junior point guard Amber Orrange joined the fun, scoring 20 points to go with eight rebounds and four assists in directing the Cardinal offense to a .449 shooting evening in front of 5,628 fans.

"All we care about right now is that we're progressing as a team, making sure our offense looks good, our defensive energy is there," Ogwumike said. "It was just another game but at the same time it was a happy moment because we played well."

Ogwumike's 37 points brought her career total to 2,580, and she will enter the Pac-12 Tournament needing just 50 points to eclipse former Cardinal All-American Candice Wiggins' conference scoring record of 2,629 points.

Washington State took the momentum into the halftime break Saturday, as the Cougars scored twice in the final 23 seconds to cut its deficit to eight at 49-41.

Lia Galdeira, who led the Cougars with 16 points on the night, scored a layup with 23 seconds left then made a steal and fed Alexas Williamson for another layup 11 seconds before the horn.

Stanford, however, regrouped and went on a counterattack to start the second half, with Ogwumike, who else, leading the charge.

She went into the break with 21 points and nine rebounds and scored the Cardinal's first four points and after four straight from Orrange, capped the 10-0 run with another bucket in the paint to put Stanford ahead 59-41 and force a Washington State timeout.

"Washington State's an excellent team, and we played them much better this time around," Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer said. "I thought we worked very hard defensively."

Stanford forged a 20-point advantage with Ogwumike on the bench. Fellow senior Mikaela Ruef hit jumper with 11:51 to go.

Washington State put into action its plan to score five straight points, prompting Ogwumike back into the contest.

The Cougars ultimately got a 3-pointer from Taylor Edmondson and a free throw from Galdeira to pull to within 13 at 69-56 with 8:08 to go.

The Cardinal made sure that was the final rush. Orrange and Bonnie Samuelson, who had 10 points for her fourth double-figure scoring performance in the past five games, each hit baskets and Ogwumike finished a 9-2 run with a pair of free throws to get the Cardinal back up by 20 at 78-58 with 4:18 remaining.

With 2:05 to go, Ogwumike and redshirt senior Mikaela Ruef came out for the final time to a thunderous ovation, followed by Sara James' exit to another round of cheers with 47.9 seconds to go.

"I don't like to get too sentimental, I just like to soak it all in," Ogwumike said. "It's a family environment. You have so many people that have your back and it gives us confidence at this time of year."

Stanford is set to host an NCAA Regional from March 29-April 1, and if the Cardinal is still in the tournament at that time it's seniors will get at least one more game at Maples Pavilion.

— Stanford Athletics

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