Sports


Stanford advances in NCAA tournament with an 86-59 victory over UC Davis

 

By Rick Eymer

Palo Alto Online Sports

Nnemkadi Ogwumike played so quietly in the paint for Stanford that one could accuse the stat sheet of lying if so inclined. It was a little eye-popping to think the junior went for a game-high 22 points and seven rebounds.

The second-ranked Stanford women's basketball team played so efficiently that it didn't need the highlight-reel baskets from Ogwumike in Saturday's 86-59 victory over UC Davis in the first round of the NCAA tournament at Maples Pavilion.

This time, Ogwumike was able to play a little under the radar, allowing five other teammates to record double figures in scoring as the Cardinal (30-2) won its 62nd consecutive game on its home court as another run to the Final Four began.

Top-seeded Stanford meets St. John's in Monday's 6:30 p.m. (ESPN2) second-round contest that will determine who gets to climb aboard an airplane to play in the Sweet Sixteen in Spokane and who gets to board a plane for home.

The ninth-seeded Red Storm (22-10) advanced with a 55-50 victory over eighth-seed Texas Tech. Point guard Nadirah McKenith led the way with 14 points, seven rebounds (five offensive) and four assists.

"To get to play in one of the greatest venues for women's basketball, against one of the greatest programs and one of its greatest coaches, there's nothing better than that," St. John's coach Kim Barnes Arico said.

UC Davis coach Sandy Simpson, retiring after the Aggies reached their first NCAA Division I NCAA tournament in school history, echoed those sentiments.

"Their team speed may not match up well with other teams around the country but they make up for that by intuitively understanding the angles," Simpson said. "They see the game a second or two ahead of anybody else, so they anticipate making plays when other teams can't make those decisions in real time."

Ogwumike's 'quiet' night was a testament to the many-layered ways Stanford can beat its opposition. Against UC Davis, it was a combination of long range accuracy and ball movement.

Lindy La Rocque found her groove from 3-point territory, as did Kayla Pedersen, Toni Kokenis and Jeanette Pohlen. They were a combined 13-of-19 from beyond the arc.

"Their defensive style consisted of disrupting the perimeter," Ogwumike said. "When we started screening their zone, we delivered in the second half. When they flew out on us, we got the ball inside. We were looking for each other."

Those 28 assists, 15 from Pedersen and Pohlen, are a perfect example of how Stanford looks for each other.

"They moved the ball great. They had 28 assists; that is impressive. They found their open teammates," Simpson said. "Their team speed may not match up well with other teams around the country but they make up for that by intuitively understanding the angles. They see the game a second or two ahead of anybody else, so they anticipate making plays when other teams can't make those decisions in real time."

Stanford will be looking to complete its fourth perfect home season Monday night. Should the Cardinal get by St. John's, the senior class would become the first team in school history to remain undefeated at home throughout their career.

"They deserve it," said La Rocque, who scored 14 points. "It's an enormous accomplishment for the seniors. We love our seniors and we play for our seniors."

Pedersen, Pohlen and Kokenis each scored 11 points and Pohlen had 10 points. Stanford committed 10 of its 12 turnovers in the first half. The Cardinal shot 55.4 percent overall, 59.1 percent from long range and 91.7 percent from the foul line.

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