No. 3 Stanford 62, Washington 52

Tara VanDerveer welcomed a game that pushed her players out of

their comfort zone. She just doesn’t want too many of them.

Nnemkadi Ogwumike had 22 points and nine rebounds and No. 3

Stanford overcame one of its worst performances of the season to

beat Washington 62-52 on Saturday for a 16th straight victory.

Freshman Chiney Ogwumike added a career-best 21 points and 10

boards for the cold-shooting Cardinal (22-2, 13-0 Pac-10) as they

held on for their 58th straight home win at Maples Pavilion, one

shy of matching the school record set from Nov. 25, 1994, to March

14, 1998. Stanford is trying for a third straight undefeated home

season for the first time since 1994-96.

But that’s not all this team is looking for – there are bigger

plans. Stanford hasn’t won a national title since 1992 despite

three straight trips to the Final Four.

”I think this game is the type of game that we need about now.

I’m not saying I’m going to beg for it,” VanDerveer said.

”Sometimes you need a little bit of a wakeup call. I didn’t think

we played smart enough. For what they were doing, we turned the

ball over too many times, we didn’t make good decisions.”

Kristi Kingma scored 22 points for Washington (10-12, 5-8),

keeping her team close in the second half with clutch 3-pointers.

Her 3 with 6:09 left trimmed Stanford’s lead to 47-45.

This one was far too close for the Cardinal, whose starters were

forced to play nearly a full game for a change. They know they will

have to do much better to make a run at that elusive

championship.

Stanford shot an uncharacteristic 36.5 percent, missed its first

18 3-point attempts and several key free throws late, and held a

slim 36-30 rebounding advantage against the scrappy Huskies.

The Cardinal were 1 for 21 overall from beyond the arc.

”Offensively we couldn’t hit our shots,” Nneka Ogwumike said.

”There will be days like that. We obviously don’t get them very

often. At the same time, we have to find other ways to score.”

Washington got five 3-pointers from Kingma, one shy of equaling

her career high, after being blown out by the Cardinal 80-51 in

Seattle on Jan. 14.

Sarah Morton’s 3 with 7:56 to play pulled the Huskies within

44-41, then Mollie Williams converted one of two free throws the

next time down to make it a one-point game. Stanford, headed for

its 11th consecutive Pac-10 regular-season crown, is far from

accustomed to playing in close games against conference opponents.

The Cardinal whipped then-No. 8 UCLA 64-38 on Jan. 20 in what had

been a highly touted matchup.

The Ogwumike sisters combined to score Stanford’s first 13

points of the second half, including a pair of putbacks by freshman

Chiney. The Cardinal built a 10-point lead – their second-biggest

of the game at that point – at 36-26 on Nneka Ogwumike’s basket at

the 14:24 mark.

She was then whistled for her fourth foul with 10:32 remaining

and briefly came out of the game.

Leading scorer Jeanette Pohlen shot 1 for 9 and missed all six

of her 3-point attempts, while Kayla Pedersen went 3 for 13 and 0

of 8 from 3-point range but still wound up with 13 points and five

rebounds.

”I have faith in my guards and they have faith in us,” Nneka

Ogwumike said. ”This isn’t how they shoot, I think everyone knows

that.”

Stanford hardly looked like the team that dominated then-No. 1

Connecticut in a thrilling 71-59 victory Dec. 30 to snap the

Huskies’ record 90-game winning streak.

Still, the Cardinal did enough right to win their 50th in a row

against conference competition after breaking their own Pac-10

record by beating Washington State 100-59 on Thursday night –

matching their season high in points, too.

”We came in here hoping to get the upset,” Kingma said. ”We

sensed they were frustrated, but we were frustrated. That was

definitely something coming into the game we wanted to do, take

them out of their comfort zone.”

Stanford earned its 11th straight victory against the Huskies,

who had won three of four and were coming off a big 60-49 victory

Thursday at California. The Cardinal, who go to USC and UCLA next

week, will try to match their school-record home winning streak

Feb. 24 against Oregon State.

Stanford opened the game just 3 for 19 and missed 15 straight

shots between Chiney Ogwumike’s layin at the 18:17 mark and

Pedersen’s basket at 10:58.

The Cardinal shot only 6 for 25 – 24 percent – in the first half

but converted 12 of 15 free throws and led 24-18 at the break. They

missed all 11 of their first-half 3-point tries and didn’t connect

from long range until Toni Kokenis hit one with 5:23 left in the

game.

”We answered a fun call today. It was unfortunate we couldn’t

come out on top,” Washington coach Tia Jackson said. ”We kept a

very good scoring team to 36 percent from the floor. I couldn’t be

more proud of our team’s effort and the way they battled and

competed. I thought we came out and played the best basketball we

could. …

”Defense is our signature. The toughness on the defensive end

is really the strongest battle we’re about.

Washington hasn’t beaten Stanford since Dec. 22, 2005.