There were several lessons learned by the third-ranked Stanford women's basketball team in Sunday's 67-53 Pac-10 win over host UCLA.
The Cardinal (15-0, 24-2) learned it could play without one of the top players in the country, could stay the course with its play maker in foul trouble and found out there are a couple of freshmen on the roster who have a knack for stepping up on a big stage.
With her sister, Nnemkadi, sidelined by a sprained ankle, and wearing a boot, Chiney Ogwumike helped fill the gap with 18 points and a career-high 15 rebounds to pace Stanford in its win over the ninth-ranked Bruins.
"We made it clear at halftime to Chiney," Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer said of the decision to get the younger Ogwumike the ball in the post. "This is what you have to do."
Senior Kayla Pedersen also recorded a double-double for the Cardinal, which extended its winning streak to 18 games while winning its 52nd straight game over a Pac-10 opponent. It also was the Cardinal's 10th straight win over the Bruins. Pedersen had 13 points and 11 rebounds.
Stanford may even find itself on top of the national polls come lunch time Monday. Top-ranked Baylor was upset by Texas Tech on Saturday and the Cardinal own a convincing victory over No. 2 Connecticut.
Jeanette Pohlen, who finished with 10 points and five assists, sat for the final five minutes of the first half. Stanford, with Lindy La Rocque and freshman Toni Kokenis running the show, stayed with the Bruins despite playing in front of a packed house at Pauley Pavilion. The game drew 6,725 people in the biggest women's game on campus in 13 years.
Pohlen, who eventually fouled out late in the game, came back to help Stanford pull away from a 28-28 halftime deadlock.
"I thought Stanford did an excellent job of establishing its inside presence with Pedersen in the second half," UCLA coach Nikki Caldwell said. "We did fine defensively. We just couldn't put the ball in the basket."
The Bruins have had success going inside against most teams this season. It was a problem against a significantly taller Stanford team.
The younger Ogwumike and Kokenis each hit important shots down the stretch as the Cardinal took charge of the second half.
Stanford has a two-game lead with three games remaining and has already clinched a berth in the semifinals of the upcoming Pac-10 Conference tournament. UCLA, with just its two losses, has also clinched a semifinal berth. It's highly likely that Stanford and the Bruins will met for the conference tournament championship at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.