For a few weeks this summer, the Ogwumike sisters were teammates of some of the best college players in the country. The next time they meet, they will be rivals.
Their respect for each other will never diminish though.
"The thing I take away from any USA experience is the relationships you form and the things that you learn, not just as a basketball player but as a person," Nneka Ogwumike said. "USA Basketball brings out a different characteristic in people because usually you are the best person on your team, you are the most depended on, but here it's more of a collective effort. It brings out a lot of great qualities in basketball that you wouldn't necessarily see."
Ogwumike saved her best performance of the World University Games in Shenzhen, China for the championship game.
Ogwumike scored 13 of her game-high 24 points in the first quarter and had nine rebounds as the United States women's national basketball team beat Chinese Taipei, 101-66, Sunday to earn the gold medal.
"It feels amazing," Ogwumike said. "Right now, we feel like we are on top of the world, and I think what is most special about this is that we came together and we fought hard. It was a long three months, or as coach would say, 'It's a long time since we all started playing basketball.' I'm just really excited for our team, and we're just really happy to have this gold medal around our necks. "
The Americans (6-0) completed a thoroughly dominating run through the tournament, winning by an average of nearly 45 points a contest. They outscored their opponents 97.7-52.8 in winning its fourth consecutive gold medal, and eighth in 16 World University Games appearances.
The Ogwumike's played with people from Notre Dame, Tennessee, Maryland, DePaul,m USC and Baylor among others.
"I was very honored to be selected for the World University Games, and we've been working hard for the past few months," Ogwumike said. "We put together a team that we thought was the most talented and the most cohesive in terms of teamwork and collaboration, and we've had a lot of fun. I'm extremely excited that we won the gold, but also really happy that we were able to compete with such great teams here. To be able to not only play with my sister on a USA team, but win a gold medal is something that a lot of people can't say."
USA coach Bill Fennelly, who coaches Iowa State, said Ogwumike and Irish Skylar Diggins were the natural leaders for the U.S.
"It's just amazing," he said. "Nneka and Sky have been through a lot. This is the third time I've had them, twice as an assistant and now as a head coach. They are great players, but they are even better people. I think they were the true leaders of our team. Everyone knew it from the beginning. They followed what we asked them to do, and their experience really paid off and showed the other kids what the international game is all about – the travel and how you just have to fight through it day-by-day. At the end of the day, they have another gold medal and they deserve it."
Stanford swimmers Maya DiRado and Kate Dwelley also brought home a gold medal. Junior national 200 fly champion Bobby Bollier also earned a silver medal while Andrea Taylor, Felicia Lee, Sam Woodward and David Mosko swam in a championship final.
DiRado gave Taylor a lot of credit for helping her win the 400 IM. Taylor finished sixth in the event.
"I train with Andie so I know that she's a really great butterflyer and she always pushes me," DiRado said. "She's a great breaststroker so I knew I had a lot of catching up to do in the freestyle but that's kind of been my strong part in the 400 IM so I have a lot of confidence in the last part."
Cardinal junior Matthew Swanston was a member of Canada's 400 relay team Friday, which finished eighth in the Championship Final.
Dwelley finished fifth in the 100 free, Mosko was seventh in the 800 free and Woodward finished fifth in the 50 free.
The United States women's water polo team fell behind early and could never recover, dropping a 14-4 decision to host China in the championship match.
Stanford players Pallavi Menon, Amber Oland and Alyssa Lo played for the Americans along with Sacred Heart Prep grads Adriana Vogt and KK Clark.
Stanford grad Janson Wigo scored twice for the U.S. men, who fell to the former Yugoslavia Republic of Macedonia, 10-7, in the bronze medal contest.
Cardinal grads Drac Wigo, Sage Wright, Peters Sefton and Jeffrey Schwimer also played for the U.S.
Stanford track athlete
Stanford grad Brad Lawson had 12 kills and Cardinal grad Kawika Shoji added 34 assists, but the U.S. dropped a 25-20, 23-25, 28-30, 25-21, 15-11 decision to Japan consolation men's match. Dwelley finished fifth in the 100 free, Cardinal senior David Mosko was seventh in the 800 free and Stanford grad Elizabeth Smith finished 12th in the 200 IM with a time of 2:17.42.
Stanford senior Sam Woodward finished fifth in the hotly-contested Championship Final of the 50 free
The Americans, which also featured Stanford libero Erik Shoji, finished 12th overall, moving up a place when Iran was disqualified from the competition.
The U.S. men ended its run in the World University Games tournament on a winning note with a 25-19, 23-25, 25-16, 25-14 victory over Norway.
In fencing, Stanford sophomore Taylor Caldwell finished 25th overall in the men's foil competition.