By Rick Eymer
Palo Alto Online Sports
Kayla Pedersen, Jeanette Pohlen and Nnemkadi Ogwumike each played every minute of third-ranked Stanford's 63-50 season-opening victory over visiting Rutgers Sunday.
Cardinal women's basketball coach Tara VanDerveer, who earned career win No. 794, said that's the way it might have to be for a while as the freshmen and redshirt sophomore Sarah Boothe work themselves into the rotation.
Ogwumike scored a game-high 20 points on 8-of-12 shooting and grabbed nine rebounds. Pedersen missed her first five shots before making six of her final eight to score 13 points. Pohlen did a little of everything, with seven points, five rebounds and eight assists.
Chiney Ogwumike made the best impression of the freshmen, scoring nine points and grabbing a game-high 12 rebounds. A starter, she played 21 minutes. Freshman Toni Kokenis was the first guard off the bench and Boothe was the first post player to sub in.
Sophomore Joslyn Tinkle also started, contributing 10 points and six rebounds. Freshman Sara James was the only other player VanDerveer used.
"We need more out of Sarah Boothe, more out of Chiney and more out of Kayla," VanDerveer said. "I can't just throw a player out there and say 'show me what you've got.' We're counting on these freshmen."
Whom VanDerveer does choose to use, though, are talented enough to make up for a few deficiencies. Pedersen, the elder Ogwumike and Pohlen are al All-American candidates. Tinkle and the younger Ogwumike were high school All-Americans.
"The future is not going to be told today," Nnemkadi said. "But this did help us realize what we can be good at. We need to find our strength and we need to adjust when things happen."
Rutgers, which lost at California on Friday night, took a 26-22 lead with 4:56 left in the first half. Stanford went on a 17-3 run that lasted through the first four minutes of the second half to take a 39-29 advantage.
The Cardinal managed to get the Scarlet Knights at bay the rest of the way.
"We really never got into a good flow offensively," Pedersen said. "It was all about getting inside."
The inside is where the Cardinal dominated. The Ogwumikes accounted for nine of Stanford's 18 offensive rebounds, which led to a 20-2 edge in second chance points.
"You always have to tough it out no matter what," Nnemkadi said. "Playing a good team, this was a good way to start."
Stanford travels to Utah for a nonconference game on Friday. Michelle Harrison, who spent the past four years at Stanford, is playing her redshirt season with the Utes after receiving an NCAA waiver to become immediately eligible.
Harrison, a native of Orem, Utah, started and played 23 minutes in Utah's 44-43 win over host SMU on Friday night.
Men's water polo
Sacred Heart Prep grad Paul Rudolph scored three goals and Sage Wright added a pair but third-ranked Stanford suffered a 10-9 setback to visiting Pacific in a Mountain Pacific Sports Federation contest Sunday.
The loss means the Cardinal (5-2, 13-6) has no chance for a possible co-championship and the No. 1 seed in the MPSF tournament, which will be held at Stanford beginning Nov. 26.
California clinched the regular-season title and the top seed for the tournament, which determines the automatic MPSF bid into the NCAA tournament. The MPSF is also awarded an at-large bid, though Stanford would have to reach the championship game and hope the Bears are there too just to have a chance.
The Cardinal travels to California for the Big Splash on Friday at 6 p.m. A win would secure the No. 3 seed while a loss would likely mean the fourth seed.
UCLA clinched at least a share of second place and, possibly, the No. 2 seed. The Bruins ended their regular season with a 9-8 victory over UC Santa Barbara on Sunday. Menlo School grad Ben Hohl, the Bruins' leading scorer with 40 goals, scored one in the contest.
There's a chance UCLA, USC and Stanford would finish in a three-way tie for second place. During the conference season, USC beat UCLA, the Bruins beat Stanford and the Cardinal beat the Trojans.
Against the Tigers, Stanford fell behind 10-6 with six minutes remaining to play. Jacob Smith scored and Rudolph scored twice to pull the Cardinal within 10-9 with 59 seconds remaining.