Sports

Former Stanford players get WNBA season off to rough start

 

The WNBA's 19th season has tipped off, but the opening weekend wasn't a good one for six Stanford alumnae representing the Cardinal on the opening-day rosters of the league's 12 franchises.

Stanford's six WNBA players -- Jayne Appel (San Antonio Stars), Chiney Ogwumike (Connecticut Sun), Nneka Ogwumike (Los Angeles Sparks), Kayla Pedersen (Connecticut Sun), Jeanette Pohlen (Indiana Fever) and Candice Wiggins (New York Liberty) -- combined for just 11 points while their teams went a combined 2-6.

A 2010 WNBA All-Star and first-round pick of the Stars that same year, Appel began her sixth season in the league with two points and five rebounds in a 76-71 loss to Phoenix in a starting role. She has started all 63 regular-season games in which she's played over the past two seasons and has posted career averages of 4.2 points and 6.2 rebounds in 19.3 minutes.

Chiney Ogwumike, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2014 WNBA Draft and 2014 WNBA Rookie of the Year, is alongside fellow Cardinal and 2011 first-round selection Kayla Pedersen with the Connecticut Sun this season. Ogwumike, out indefinitely while she recovers from January knee surgery, remains on the active roster. Last season she led all rookies in rebounding (8.5 rpg) and double-doubles (13), ranked second in scoring (15.5 ppg), and third in steals (1.2 spg).

Pedersen has appeared in 87 regular-season games for the Sun since being traded from Tulsa in June 2013. She is 11 points shy of 500 in her career after scoring four points in a 75-70 win over Atlanta.

Nneka Ogwumike, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2012 WNBA Draft and 2012 WNBA Rookie of the Year, is beginning her fourth season in Los Angeles. In 2014, Ogwumike was named to the All-WNBA Second Team and earned her second consecutive All-Star selection. Tallying 11 games scoring 20+ points or more, she finished the season averaging 15.8 points and tied a team-high with 7.1 rebounds per game. She is currently sidelined, missing the Sparks' 86-61 loss to Seattle on Saturday.

In early October, Ogwumike became the fourth Stanford player to win FIBA World Championship gold when Team USA capped a perfect tournament run with a 77-64 win over Spain in Istanbul, Turkey. Ogwumike averaged 7.5 points and 4.8 rebounds in 16.5 minutes per contest. She had her best performance at the event in a preliminary-round meeting with Angola, scoring 18 points on 7-of-8 shooting and grabbing 10 rebounds as the United States won by a record 75 points.

Pohlen makes her return to the professional ranks after missing the 2014 season due to a torn left Achilles tendon. In her last taste of WNBA action prior to this season, Pohlen appeared in 15 of the Fever's final 18 games of 2013 after sitting out the first half of that season recovering from injury and averaged 3.2 points per outing. She went scoreless as Indiana opened with a 95-72 loss to Chicago and a 78-69 setback to Minnesota.

Wiggins is playing her eighth season in the WNBA and first in New York after signing with the Liberty in early March. Wiggins, the 2008 WNBA Sixth Woman of the Year, has averaged 9.6 points in her career while playing for Minnesota, Tulsa and Los Angeles. She was in the starting lineup in an 82-73 win over Atlanta and a 67-62 loss to Washington, tallying five points and dishing two assists in the setback.

Together, the six women have played in a total of 688 regular-season games. Two members of the group have also won a WNBA title: Wiggins (2011, Minnesota Lynx) and Pohlen (2012, Indiana Fever). Overall Stanford has had 27 players play in a regular-season WNBA game since the league's inception in 1997. The program boasts 11 first-round draft picks and has had six players win a total of seven WNBA titles.

Recent Stanford grad Amber Orrange, drafted by the Liberty with the 23rd overall pick in April, was waived by the team on May 28.

— Palo Alto Online Sports/Stanford Athletics

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