No. 3 Stanford 80, Xavier 64

Up by only a point at halftime, No. 3 Stanford went to its best

option to blow open the game

The Cardinal got the ball inside to Nnemkadi Ogwumike, who

dominated under the basket and scored a season-high 34 points

Friday, leading the way to an 80-64 victory over Xavier.

The Cardinal (4-1) shook off a 10-point loss at No. 2

Connecticut on Monday and a slow first half against Xavier (1-3),

which did a good job clamping down on the perimeter. The Musketeers

couldn’t handle Ogwumike once she got going.

”I think maybe it was too much Nneka,” coach Tara VanDerveer

said.

Stanford had a tough time shooting at UConn, making 37 percent

from the field. The Cardinal was 1 of 10 from behind the arc in the

first half against Xavier, which had a couple of brief leads and

kept it close by containing Ogwumike.

The senior forward didn’t sense any hangover from the UConn

loss.

”It almost seems people are more focused because of what

happened,” she said. ”What we learned is it shouldn’t take us

playing the way we were on Monday to focus. It gives the young

players perspective on what it’s going to be like if we want to get

to where Stanford is used to being. I think the focus was totally

fine.”

The focus at the start of the second half was Ogwumike, who made

bank shots, hit a fadeaway jumper and had putbacks during a 19-5

run that put the Cardinal in control. She scored 11 of Stanford’s

15 points in the half and finished with a game-high 13

rebounds.

”Nneka is a phenomenal basketball player,” first-year Xavier

coach Amy Waugh said. ”She’s an All-American who just plays so

hard on every possession. We tried to limit her around the basket

as much as we can, dare her to shoot some jump shots. She’s just

very relentless and continued to go at us.”

Lynette Holmes led Xavier with 18 points.

The schools have played in each of the last three seasons, with

Stanford winning all three. The series started with a memorable

moment for both programs – Jeanette Pohlen’s layup at the buzzer

giving Stanford a 55-53 win in the NCAA tournament regional finals

in 2010.

Last season, the Musketeers visited Stanford with top player

Amber Harris recovering from a concussion. Harris opened the game

on the bench, and Stanford ran away to a 37-point win.

Xavier lost five of its top six players off last season’s Top 10

team and is retooling under Waugh. The Musketeers were coming off

back-to-back losses at Mississippi State and Louisville, and were

determined to give a better showing against the Cardinal.

Xavier kept close for a half by driving into the heart of

Stanford’s defense and drawing fouls. The Musketeers made all 11

free throws in the first half, with Holmes going 7 for 7.

When Ogwumike asserted herself, Xavier was in trouble.

”They were very physical,” VanDerveer said. ”They were very

prepared for us. I don’t think we played particularly well in the

first half, but that’s a credit to them. We struggled from the

perimeter against them in the Elite Eight, too. Nneka really got

things going.”