Palo Alto Weekly

Sports - April 5, 2013

Ogwumike heads to Final Four, for awards

by Rick Eymer

Stanford junior forward Chiney Ogwumike will be in New Orleans this weekend for the NCAA Final Four of women's basketball. Instead of the Cardinal participating in its sixth straight national semifinals, however, Ogwumike will be a spectator.

Ogwumike will be in town to accept a number of All-America awards she received this week. On Wednesday, she was named to the USBWA and John R. Wooden Award All-America teams. On Tuesday, she was one of five players selected to the Associated Press All-America First Team.

It was Ogwumike's second All-America nod from the AP and the first time she has been voted to the first team. Last year she earned a spot on the second team. She was joined on the 2013 first team by Baylor's Brittney Griner and Odyssey Sims, Delaware's Elena Delle Donne and Notre Dame's Skylar Diggins.

Ogwumike also was named one of three finalists for the WBCA's Division I National Defensive Player of the Year award for the second straight year, being joined by Griner and Connecticut's Kelly Faris. The award will be presented at the WBCA Awards Show on Monday in New Orleans.

By making the 10-woman USBWA All-America Team, Ogwumike is now a finalist for the USBWA's Ann Meyers Drysdale Award for national player of the year. That award will be announced Sunday at the New Orleans Sports Arena.

Wednesday's announcement marks Ogwumike's first selection to both the USBWA and John R. Wooden Award All-America teams. Her nods also make her and older sister, Nnemkadi, the first sisters to make the organizations' honor squads.

The sisters also join the Zeller brothers, Cody of Indiana and Tyler of North Carolina, as the only siblings to each be named to the Wooden Award All-America Team.

Ogwumike finished the 2012-13 season with 22.4 points and 12.9 rebounds a game and a 58.6 field-goal percentage, along with 62 blocked shots. Her rebounding average, total rebounds (466) and 28 double-doubles set Stanford single-season records while her scoring average and total points (805) are a close second in the record book behind Nnemkadi's 22.5 points per game and 809 total in 2011-12.

Chiney's efforts led Stanford to a 33-3 record, the program's sixth straight 30-win season and a 20th Sweet 16 appearance. The Cardinal, however, failed to advance to the Final Four after dropping a 61-59 decision to Georgia in the Sweet 16 on Saturday in Spokane, Wash. Ogwumike scored 26 points and grabbed 12 rebounds but Amber Orrange (17 points) was the only other player to make a significant offensive contribution.

Men's gymnastics

Stanford, fresh off a spring break trip to Norway, heads to Colorado Springs for the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation championships, hosted by Air Force, on Saturday.

The Cardinal returned to the U.S. with plenty of success. In team competition, Stanford finished with a score of 415.950, second to Italy and ahead of Norway.

Senior Eddie Penev ranks second in the nation in all-around with a four-score average of 87.450. He's first on the floor exercise (15.767) and tied for second on the vault (15.167). Sean Senters (15.083) ranks eighth on vault.

No. 2 Oklahoma and No. 4 Stanford will battle for the team title, with the Sooners having the advantage. The Sooners are ranked among the nation's top six on all six apparatus.

Women's gymnastics

No. 11 Stanford earned a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Norman (Okla.) Regional, which gets underway Saturday.

The Cardinal hopes to gain a bid into the NCAA Championships. The top two finishers, which also include the host Sooners, Penn State, Washington, Iowa and Southern Utah, will gain automatic access to the NCAA Championships in Los Angeles on April 19.

The Cardinal is ranked in the NCAA top 25 in all four events based on the Regional Qualifying Score. Stanford is eighth on balance beam (49.185 RQS), ninth on uneven bars (49.280 RQS), 13th on vault (49.255 RQS) and 19th on floor (49.190 RQS).

Women's water polo

Freshman Maggie Steffens earned her second consecutive MPSF Newcomer of the Week award after helping No. 2 Stanford go unbeaten in five matches in Hawaii last week.

It will be a little tougher this weekend when UCLA comes to town for a conference game at 1 p.m. on Saturday (Pac-12 Networks). The fourth-ranked Bruins have given the Cardinal (3-0, 22-1) trouble through the years.

UCLA (3-1, 21-3) lost to Stanford, 8-5, in the Stanford Invitational on Feb. 3. The Bruins have also lost one-goal games to USC and Arizona State.

The Cardinal's lone loss was to top-ranked and undefeated USC in the championship game of the UC Irvine Invitational. Stanford has won 10 straight since.

Saturday's game is Stanford's final home match. The Cardinal travels to USC, Loyola Marymount and California to conclude the regular season.

Cal hosts the MPSF tournament beginning April 26, with the winner guaranteed a spot at the NCAA championships in Boston, hosted by Harvard, beginning May 10.

Women's lacrosse

No. 13 Stanford (2-0, 7-2) faces its toughest test of the MPSF season this week with a match at conference co-leader Denver (3-0, 11-1) on Friday.

The Pioneers, winners of 10 straight, and California both share 3-0 conference records entering play this week.

Stanford goalie Lyndey Munoz was named MPSF Defensive Player of the Week after recording a 6.50 goals-against average and .536 save percentage last week.

The Cardinal beat Fresno State, 21-8, on Tuesday and has won five in a row. Hannah Farr scored four times and added an assist while Julia Burns scored three times with two assists.

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