Nnemkadi Ogwumike knows things will only get harder from this point forward, so getting a good challenge from an opposing post player was just the thing to quickly shift her attention back to the basketball court.
For freshman Bonnie Samuelson, a Long Beach native, the chance to play at the Staples Center was motivation enough.
Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer liked the effort but also understands there are still a few details to work on.
The Ogwumike sisters will take their basketball act to the main stage Friday after working out a few kinks in a quarterfinal game of the Pac-12 Conference tournament.
Chiney Ogwumike scored 16 points and grabbed 11 rebounds and Nnemkadi Ogwumike added 18 points and seven rebounds as the second-ranked Cardinal beat Washington, 76-57, Thursday afternoon at the Galen Center in Los Angeles.
"We took care of the ball, we focused on the scouting report and we were able to make adjustments," VanDerveer said. "We still have things to work on. Chiney is our top rebounder and she is relentless on the glass. We need other people to follow in her footsteps."
Samuelson added 11 points as the women's tournament moves to the Staples Center on Friday and the Cardinal (29-1) will meet either Arizona or Arizona State at noon in a semifinal. Saturday's championship contest is scheduled for 11:30 a.m.
"I've been watching the Lakers play since I was little," Samuelson said. "My dad would take me to at least one game a year. I'm really looking forward to playing there."
The Sun Devils are one of two teams which beat Stanford in a conference championship game, winning the 2002 event in Eugene.
Stanford never trailed by less than 12 during the second half, although the Huskies did make a run to cut the Cardinal advantage.
"They were aggressive inside and we were more concerned with their perimeter players," Nneka said. "It was good to play against Regina (Rogers) because she's a great player and a challenge to guard. I think once we started to recognize our options on the floor, we were able to get it going."
Samuelson hit a pair of 3-pointers and Chiney Ogwumike hit a putback to up Stanford's lead to 24 points midway through the second half that all but settled the issue.
Amber Orrange hit a jumper with 7:58 left to give the Cardinal a 27-point edge and forcing Washington coach Kevin McGuff to call his final timeout.
"They are the best defensive team we've faced all year," McGuff said. "They have tremendous length, they tip a lot of balls, get into passing lanes and keep you off the boards."
The Huskies were within 22-19 with 6:18 remaining in the first half. That's when Stanford began putting some distance between itself and Washington, outscoring the Huskies, 15-5, to take a 37-24 halftime lead.
"I have been playing against them for five years now and they are talented from the guards through all the post players," Washington redshirt senior Mackenzie Argens said. "The Ogwumike sisters are unbelievable and they've worked hard to be as good as they are."
The Cardinal has never lost in either the quarterfinal or semifinal of the conference tournament.
"Tara and her staff do as well as anyone in the country in terms of preparation," McGuff said.
Chasson Randle scored 27 of his career high 30 points in the first half and Stanford advanced to the quarterfinals of the Pac-12 Tournament at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, beating Arizona State, 85-65, Wednesday night.
The seventh-seeded Cardinal (21-10) got another chance at second-seeded California in Thursday night's game. Stanford beat the Bears on Sunday to knock them out of a first place tie with Washington.
If Stanford was able to get past Cal, the Cardinal likely would play No. 3 Oregon in Friday's semifinals, with a good chance of reaching Saturday's finals.
Randle set a tournament record with his first-half scoring performance. The freshman guard was 7-of-11 from the field, including 6 of 8 from 3-point land, and 10-of-12 from the foul line.