Sports


Ogwumike sisters lead Stanford into Pac-10 championship game

 

Nnemkadi Ogwumike lost a contact lens. Chiney Ogwumike lost part of a tooth. They weren't going to lose anything else Friday night.

Nnemkadi Ogwumike scored 32 points, her younger sister Chiney Ogwumike added 21 and second-ranked Stanford beat Arizona, 100-71, in the Pac-10 tournament semifinals.

"Everyone came out hard, and I think we were just really ready to go," Nnemkadi said. "This is a new season, and we need to define who we are."

The Ogwumike sisters, apparently, want to show how a post player or two can completely dominate a women's basketball contest even if the other team has its own dominating post player.

Chiney won the rebounding contest with her older sister, 13-10, as the Cardinal (28-2) won its 22nd in a row overall and 56th consecutive game against a Pac-10 opponent.

"I think we're doing a really good job of accentuating our assets," Nnemkadi said. "We are working hard as a team and collaborating."

The Cardinal reached the century mark for the third time this year, setting a Pac-10 tournament record for most points in a game. It's likely that the Ogwumike's also set a tournament record for most points by one family in a game. After all, they combined for over 50 percent of Stanford's offense and nearly 57 percent of its rebounds.

"We have an invisible extension between us," Nnemkadi said. "It's a lot of fun to play with her. We are definitely feeding off each other. We give each other energy during the game."

Stanford advanced to Saturday's championship game at Staples Center against second-seeded UCLA, a 63-50 winner over California. The Cardinal is seeking its fifth straight Pac-10 tourney title and eighth overall.

"I didn't get a crack at them the last time," said Nnemkadi, who missed the last regular season meeting with the Bruins nursing an injury. "That was a really good game and they're a really great team. I love playing against people that give us a challenge, and I would love playing them again."

Kayla Pedersen, the Pac-10's women's basketball Scholar-Athlete of the Year, added 16 points, six rebounds and seven assists, and Sarah Boothe had 12 points.

"We just try to go with what's available," Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer said. "I thought people did a great job of getting the ball inside. Kayla Pedersen with 7 assists, Melanie Murphy got the ball inside really well, 6 assists. We're going to make that pass, and someone like Chiney going 10 for 13 or Nnemkadi at 15 for 22, we're going to take that."

Nnemkadi Ogwumike scored the game's first two baskets and then lost her contact lens. Chiney left the game in the second half after getting hit in the mouth and chipped a tooth.

"I've been known to get the butt of hits to the mouth," Chiney said. "I'm not that reliable about putting my mouth guard in, and I just had a tooth that got chipped, and then I rechipped it. I should be wearing my mouth guard more, which I will."

Stanford shot 53 percent in the first half, when the Cardinal led 45-24. Only two players other than the Ogwumike sisters scored, with Pedersen getting seven and Joslyn Tinkle two.

The Cardinal opened the game on a 13-3 run and later scored nine in a row as part of a 19-5 spurt that ended the half. Chiney already had a double-double at the break.

"We're all there for each other and we have each other's backs," Chiney said. "If one person is struggling, another says the right thing to keep make sure our minds are correct. I really think it's the sisterhood of Stanford in general."

The tournament title game will be played at 11:30 a.m., giving the Cardinal plenty of time to prepare for its third meeting with UCLA. Both teams will advance to the NCAA tournament. A win Saturday would just make their resumes a little better.

"UCLA has had a great year," VanDerveer said. "They have a lot of weapons with their perimeter game, they go inside really well and they have people coming off the bench. They're a very aggressive, athletic team. They play a little bit different style. They like to press and trap. You have to take care of the ball against them."

And the Ogwumike's need to learn to take care of their contact lens and teeth.

(AP contributed to this report)

— PA Weekly Online Sports

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