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Palo Alto Weekly

Sports - December 20, 2013

Tennessee provides test for Stanford

by Rick Eymer

Chiney Ogwumike continues to work her way toward the top of Stanford's all-time scoring and rebounding lists.

The sixth-ranked Stanford women's basketball team will need Ogwumike and several other players to be on top of their game Saturday when No. 3 Tennessee visits Maples Pavilion for a nonconference showdown at 1:30 p.m.

The Cardinal (9-1) will put its eight-game winning streak on the line against the Lady Vols (10-0 after beating Tennessee State on Wednesday night), who average 83.4 points a game.

They are also balanced, with four players averaging double figures in scoring. Tennessee also has a plus-15.8 rebounding margin.

"I'll be focusing on boxing out," Stanford's Erica McCall said. "When you think Tennessee, you think big, tall and rebounding. I've got to work on posting up and hitting my outside shot. I'm pretty pumped up, excited. I have a couple of friends who play for Tennessee (Mercedes Russell, Jordan Reynolds)."

Stanford, which beat New Mexico (75-41) on Monday behind Ogwumike's 32 points, averages 75.2 points a game, has two players averaging double digits scoring and has a plus-7.7 rebounding margin.

"We have to take care of the ball and we have to rebound," Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer said. "Those two things are the keys."

Stanford and Tennessee have played every year since 1988, with the Lady Vols owning a 22-8 edge in the series. The Cardinal has won the past two meetings, though, and will be going for three straight for the second time ever. Stanford lost its last meeting, in 1997, when it had won the two previous meetings.

"There are certain things, when you play Tennessee, you have to do year in and year out," VanDerveer said. "They are aggressive, they are athletic and it is a big team that is active with their hands. They are also quick."

Stanford will be playing the Lady Vols for the fourth time on Dec. 21, losing the first three meetings by a combined 18 points, including a 10-point loss in overtime.

The Cardinal and Tennessee has played six overtime games, Stanford's most against any opponent. Cal is next, with four in the previous 78 meetings.

Ogwumike, who scored 23 of Stanford's first 25 points in the win over the Lobos, became the eighth Stanford player to record 2,000 points in her career.

The senior All-American became the fifth member of the exclusive 2,000-point, 1,000-rebound club, which includes older sister Nnemkadi Ogwumike, Jayne Appel, Nicole Powell and Val Whiting.

Ogwumike is 50 points from matching Whiting for fifth on the all-time scoring list.

"Chiney is just such an anchor for us," VanDerveer said. "She calls for the ball, she rebounds, she scores, and she plays defense. She did a great job."

With seven rebounds, Ogwumike also moved past her older sister into third place on the all-time Stanford rebounding list with 1,227. Jayne Appel is second with 1,263 and Kayla Pedersen tops the list with 1,266.

Men's basketball

Stanford heads into Saturday's game against Michigan in the Brooklyn Hoops Holiday Invitational in New York on a high note.

Chasson Randle scored 22 points, Josh Huestis and Dwight Powell combined for 23 points and 25 rebounds and the Cardinal stunned host Connecticut, 53-51, Wednesday night in a nonconference game in Storrs, Conn.

The Cardinal (8-2) handed the No. 10 Huskies their first home loss against a nonconference opponent in six years.

Stanford overcame a 13-point deficit to beat previously undefeated Connecticut for the first time in five meetings.

"It was just a matter of us being aggressive on the defensive end," Randle said. "Just being active, getting our hands moving, getting our feet moving and just hustling."

Cardinal coach Johnny Dawkins did what coaching legend Mike Montgomery could not do in his three tries against the Huskies.

"At halftime, we were reeling," Dawkins said. "We were trying to search and find out what we could do. Our guys really stepped up and just did it on the defensive end. It was one of the best efforts I've ever seen for a half."

Stanford continues its road trip with a game against Michigan on Saturday at 5:30 p.m. on Fox Sports 1.

The Cardinal, 5-13 against ranked opponents under Dawkins, beat a top-10 team on the road for the first team in over five years. Stanford beat then No. 10 Oregon 11 months ago.

"This was huge for us," Huestis said. "We knew inside our locker room we could compete with anybody, but we had to prove it."

Michigan (6-4) plays for the first time since losing at home to top-ranked Arizona, 72-70, last Saturday.

Stanford trailed UConn, 43-30, with 16:48 remaining in the game before making its move. Anthony Brown and Randle hit consecutive 3-pointers to spark a 14-0 run to give the Cardinal a 44-43 edge less than six minutes later.

Randle drove into the lane and hit a jump shot with 6:15 left to put Stanford ahead for good at 50-49.

UConn's Shabazz Napier, who finished with 12 points and eight assists, missed three shots in the final 40 seconds with a chance to put the Huskies ahead.

Huestis converted on the first of two free throws for a 53-51 lead with 28 ticks remaining, and the Cardinal defense turned away Connecticut's final two attempts.

Powell and Huestis each recorded a double-double in the contest. Powell had 10 points and a game-high 15 rebounds. Huestis added 13 points and 10 rebounds.

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