Uploaded: Sunday, March 3, 2013, 1:28 AM
Updated: Monday, March 4, 2013, 9:24 AM
Consecutive title number 13 lucky for Stanford, Ogwumike
|The Stanford women's basketball team only makes it seem easy. This year was as tough a battle as the fourth-ranked Cardinal has had in its current run of 13 consecutive conference titles or co-titles.
There wasn't much room for error and Stanford needed every ounce of effort to share this title with Bay Area rival California.
Both the media and coaches poll had Stanford and Cal as the preseason 1-2 teams.
Chiney Ogwumike also seems to make it look so easy. In addition to her athletic ability, though, she has the heart of a warrior.
She scored 22 of her 28 points and grabbed nine of her 13 rebounds in the first half to help the Cardinal record a 72-50 victory over host Washington State on Saturday night in the Pac-12 Conference regular-season finale.
Cardinal coach Tara VanDerveer deflected the credit to her team.
"It's great, I owe it to my players," she said.
Stanford (17-1, 28-2) will play on Friday at noon in the Pac-12 Conference tournament at Key Arena in Seattle, against either USC, Arizona State or Washington State.
The Women of Troy play at ASU on Sunday. A USC victory would mean a seventh-place finish. A USC loss would mean a rematch with the Sun Devils in Thursday's first-round action and giving seventh place to the Cougars.
Oregon State, as the 10th seed, would play the seventh-place finisher.
Top-seeded Stanford, No. 2 seed California, No. 3 seed UCLA and No. 4 seed Colorado earned first-round byes.
In other first round matchups, Washington meets Oregon and Utah plays Arizona.
Stanford has won nine of the previous 11 Pac-12 tournament titles, including the last seven in succession.
Until then, the Cardinal can bask in the glory of its championship.
After the win over the Cougars, players posed for photos with the Pac-12 trophy in championship t-shirts.
It's the first time since 2004 Stanford has had to share the regular season conference title, when the Wildcats shared the championship.
The Cardinal also shared the title with Arizona State and Washington in 2001.
Oregon won the outright title in 2000. Stanford and Arizona finished tied for second.
Ogwumike, who broke Stanford's single season rebound record (Nnemkadi Ogwumike had 376 in 2009-10) with 381, is the major reason why the Cardinal was able to celebrate this year.
"I was surprised, I don't go into a game trying to break records, I just try to come in and play aggressive, but those things don't happen without teammates, that put me in great positions to score and rebound," Ogwumike said. "I told them go out and play defense and I will rebound."
Ogwumike also has 687 points on the season, 122 away from tying her sister for the single-season record in that category. She averages 22.9 points a contest, which would be a Cardinal record, and would need to play six more games at her average to surpass Nneka's 809.
"Chiney is amazing," VanDerveer said. "She is a great player and an even better person, she is a leader and a very special person to coach, she does so many things on the court rebounds, steals, blocks."
Ogwumike's first half production allowed Stanford the comfort of a 35-21 halftime advantage.
The Cardinal opened the second half with a 13-4 run to make it 48-25. Washington State could not find an answer for Ogwumike.
"What can you say about Chiney, she is so difficult to guard," Cougars coach June Daugherty said. "She scores and rebounds and gets knocked around. And she does it all with a smile on her face. We call her the smiling assassin."
Stanford eventually extended it lead to 30 points midway through the second half. The Cardinal limited Washington State to 25 percent shooting and allowed just one of 14 3-point attempts through the net.
Stanford leads the Pac-12 in scoring defense, field goal percentage defense and 3-point shooting percentage defense.
"We struggled tonight on offense, and that is because Sanford is a great defensive team, they play physical and we got pushed around tonight and couldn't score," Daugherty said.
Stanford scored 16 points off 14 Cougar turnovers and did not any Cougar to reach double figures in scoring.
— Palo Alto Online Sports
Are you receiving Express, our free daily e-mail edition? See a sample and sign-up for Express.
There are no comments yet for this story.
Be the first!