By Rick Eymer
Palo Alto Online Sports
Kayla Pedersen said she was unaware that her Stanford women's basketball team clinched its 10th consecutive Pac-10 title Thursday night with a 62-43 victory over host Arizona State.
"That just goes to show you our mentality," Pedersen said. "Don't get me wrong, it's an honor to win the Pac-10. It feels awesome. But I just didn't realize it."
Pedersen probably means the second-ranked Cardinal (16-0, 26-1) is focused on the challenges ahead, to finish the regular season strong and head into the Pac-10 tournament full steam ahead.
The next step is Saturday's 2 p.m. game at Arizona.
"Different people did not have their usual good games," Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer said. "We should be able to execute better."
Jayne Appel scored 12 of her game-high 19 points in the second half as Stanford won its 17th straight. Pedersen added 12 points and Jeanette Pohlen had 11.
"It's her senior year and it's getting closer to March," Arizona State coach Charli Turner Thorne said. "She's really stepping it up in the second half of the Pac-10. I'm sure she'll continue to do that."
Appel also grabbed eight rebounds and is five rebounds shy of matching USC's Lisa Leslie for the most in conference history. She added four blocked shots and three steals.
"Jayne was 8-of-13 and she missed the easiest shots," VanDerveer said. "We just didn't get the type of offensive game we're used to from (Nnemkadi Ogwumike) or Kayla. Our turnovers (21 of them) were crazy. We're not going anywhere turning the ball over like that. Our defense was the story of the game."
Even though the Sun Devils are a little less talented than usual, they played hard against Stanford and got both Ogwumike and Pedersen in early foul trouble. Stanford scored the game's first 10 points but Arizona State played the Cardinal even the rest of the first half and was within 29-20 at halftime.
"I think we're upset with our lack of aggressiveness," Pedersen said. "The whole week we were playing against pressure and we're disappointed to go out there and do that."
Appel echoed Pedersen's sentiments. "I don't think we handled their pressure very well," she said. "In all four years we've never had an easy game here. At this point in the season we have to expect a tough game every time we take the court."
Ogwumike was held to six points (on 3-of-6 shooting) in 20 minutes and she grabbed seven rebounds.
"She wasn't aggressive. It wasn't her day," VanDerveer said. "She stayed in there and kept working hard."
JJ Hones hit a 3-pointer with 2:46 left that gave the Cardinal a 17-point advantage. Turner Thorne called it "the dagger." Stanford never had more than a 12-point edge through most of the contest before Appel hit a layup ahead of Hones' clincher.
Stanford let a halftime advantage slip away and visiting Arizona State went on to beat the Cardinal, 68-60, in a Pac-10 Conference Thursday.
The Sun Devils are a game behind conference leader California with two games to play. The two teams met in Berkeley on Saturday. Meanwhile, Stanford (7-9, 13-15) hosts Arizona on Saturday at 4 p.m.
Landry Fields scored 19 points and grabbed eight rebounds to lead the Cardinal, which had its three-game winning streak snapped. Drew Shiller added 16 points but no one else reached double figures.
The Cardinal took the early lead and a 35-28 edge at halftime. Stanford upped the lead to nine points early in the second but the Sun Devils roared back to take a 10-point lead.
Stanford was within four points with less than three minutes to play but was unable to hit key shots and allowed Arizona State two critical second-chance baskets.
Alissa Haber hit for power, ran the bases and was patient at the plate. It all added up to an 8-7 Stanford victory over Tennessee on the first day of the Cathedral City Classic in Palm Springs Thursday night.
Haber walked with the bases loaded in the top of the seventh inning to push across the game-winning run and Ashley Chinn pitched 2 1-3 innings of sterling relief to win her fifth game in six decisions.
Haber hit two home runs, scored four runs, drove in four runs and stole a base as the 18th-ranked Cardinal (9-1) win its fifth straight.
Haber and Ashley Hansen, who added a home run, two doubles and a pair of RBI, both learned earlier in the day they would rejoin Stanford grads Jessica Mendoza and Lauren Lappin on the 2010 United States national softball team.
Jenna Rich added two hits for Stanford, which plays Northwestern at 3:30 p.m. Friday in Palm Springs.