Cardinal wears ASU down in 2nd half for 72-54 win
Playing a team missing its point guard, one it had beaten by 47 just a month earlier, Stanford found itself in an unexpected fight.
The Cardinal slogged it out by pounding the ball inside, walking away with a whew! of a victory that puts them within one win of matching the longest win streak in Pac-10 history.
Kayla Pedersen had a double-double in the final hometown game of her collegiate career and No. 4 Stanford wore down Arizona State in the second half for a 72-54 Thursday night for its 47th straight Pac-10 win.
''We had to do some different things to win and I thought we did those things, but it wasn't pretty,'' Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer said.
Stanford (19-2, 10-0 Pac-10) rolled over Arizona State in the teams' first meeting, but labored through a sloppy first half against Arizona State's pressure. The Cardinal pulled away down the stretch by working the ball inside, outscoring the Sun Devils 34-18 in the paint and grabbing 12 more rebounds.
Pedersen, as she has most of the season, was the catalyst, filling up the stat sheet with 15 points, 10 rebounds, six assists, two blocks and two steals. Jeanette Pohlen led the Cardinal with 19 points despite second-half foul trouble, Nnemkadi Ogwumike added 17 and her sister, Chiney, grabbed 11 rebounds.
Their collective effort gives Stanford a shot at tying its own conference record, set from 1995-98, Saturday at Arizona.
''Our standards are a lot higher,'' said Pedersen, a senior who grew up in nearby Fountain Hills. ''Today wasn't a very good game for us.''
The Sun Devils (13-7, 5-5) were at least better than the last time around against Stanford.
Even without point guard Dymond Simon and suffering through a miserable shooting night - 30 percent, 1 for 10 from 3-point range - Arizona State managed to keep it close well into the second half. The Sun Devils just couldn't keep it up against the Cardinal's depth and big front line, losing for the third time in five games to fall back in the Pac-10 race.
Kimberly Brandon led Arizona State with 18 points.
''I was definitely proud of our effort, (but) I was disappointed that we let up,'' Arizona State coach Charli Turner Thorne said. ''I didn't think we sustained our energy in the second half.''
Stanford has been on a roll since consecutive road losses to DePaul and Tennessee in December.
The Cardinal ended top-ranked Connecticut's record winning streak at 90 games on Dec. 30 and cruised through the first half of Pac-10 play, winning their first nine games by an average of 35 points. The 19-time Pac-10 champions set a school record with 68 rebounds against Oregon last Thursday, then beat Oregon State by 30 two days later, their 12th straight victory overall.
Arizona State didn't figure to have much of a chance against the mighty Cardinal.
The Sun Devils shot 23 percent the first go-round against Stanford, an 82-35 loss in the Bay Area on Jan. 8, and went into this one without Simon, their leading scorer and catalyst, and reserve post Joy Burke.
Arizona State is a scrappy bunch, though, and wasn't going to go down without a fight, giving Stanford all it could handle in the first half.
Defensively, they stripped dribblers and jumped into passing lanes, forcing the uncharacteristically careless Cardinal into 13 turnovers. On offense, Arizona State was both patient and fearless, waiting for the right opportunity then driving into the teeth of Stanford's defense to repeatedly get to the rim and the foul line.
Despite shooting 8 of 26 and missing all four of their 3-point attempts, the Sun Devils were down just 32-27 at the half, scoring five fewer points than they did the entire first game.
''We had done pretty much we wanted to do,'' Arizona State guard Deja Mann said.
Continuing to scrap, Arizona State kept it up by attacking at both ends, forcing the Cardinal into a few more mistakes on offense and to a zone at the other end.
It didn't last.
Stanford worked the ball inside to Pedersen and the Ogwumike sisters, and started to wear Arizona State down, beginning with a 6-0 run that made it 48-35 with just over 11 minutes. The Sun Devils tried to claw back, but the Cardinal kept pounding it inside, pulling away for their 11th straight win over Arizona State.
''We wanted it to go a different way than it did,'' Pedersen said. ''We've just got to learn from it.''