No. 4 Stanford 64, No. 8 UCLA 38
Stanford is a team of perfectionists. Even with three commanding
home victories against top-10 teams by a total of 75 points, the
Cardinal point to things they must do better.
The things they know it will take to win that elusive NCAA
title. Improved ballhandling, boxing out with consistency, smarter
Kayla Pedersen had 18 points and 10 rebounds and No. 4 Stanford
ran its home winning streak at Maples Pavilion to 55 games with a
surprisingly lopsided 64-38 victory over eighth-ranked UCLA on
”They have all the makings of a championship run,” UCLA coach
Nikki Caldwell said. ”You look at the size, you’ve got shooters,
you’ve got leadership and experience. They’ve got a confidence
about them. They’ve been there. They know what it’s like when you
get to that championship game and you don’t walk away with that
Jeanette Pohlen added 14 points and Nnemkadi Ogwumike scored 13
in Stanford’s ninth straight victory overall, ninth in a row
against UCLA and 11th of 12 in the rivalry with the Bruins (15-2,
5-1 Pac-10), who were held to a season low in points. Their
previous low had been 53 in a two-point loss to Louisiana State on
Jasmine Dixon scored 12 to lead cold-shooting UCLA, which had
its five-game winning streak snapped along with a run of 13 in a
row in regular-season Pac-10 play dating to last season.
Stanford (15-2, 6-0) won its 43rd straight against conference
competition and hasn’t lost to a Pac-10 opponent since falling in a
57-54 thriller at No. 11 and rival California while ranked ninth on
Jan. 18, 2009.
”I’m not trying to be a killjoy but the bar is really high for
this team and they want it high,” Cardinal coach Tara VanDerveer
said. ”In order to really go where we want to go we can’t just say
Stanford is unbeaten since dropping consecutive road games last
month at DePaul and Tennessee. The Cardinal have looked dominant
ever since, starting with a 37-point rout of Xavier on Dec. 28 and
then their commanding 71-59 victory over then top-ranked
Connecticut on Dec. 30 that snapped the two-time defending champion
Huskies’ record 90-game winning streak.
”I’m not saying we’re not playing well. We’re winning games. We
want to win games the way we really want to,” Ogwumike said.
”We’re clicking now because we’re very versatile.”
The Cardinal faced constant full-court pressure early from the
Bruins and VanDerveer substituted regularly. But Stanford – picked
to win its 11th consecutive regular-season Pac-10 crown – easily
handled the pressure with its athleticism and size.
”The fact that we are so tall allowed us to see over the traps
and it gave us some layups and we got our momentum going,”
The Bruins were outrebounded 44-27, committed 17 turnovers and
hardly looked like the team that knocked off now-No. 11 Notre Dame
in double overtime on the road in November. Stanford used big runs
on either side of halftime to turn the game into a blowout.
This marked UCLA’s first time as a top 10 team facing another
foe in the top 10 since Dec. 23, 1999, when the No. 6 Bruins played
at top-ranked UConn. This also was the first Pac-10 game between a
pair of top 10 teams since sixth-ranked Stanford beat No. 3
California 58-41 at Maples on Feb. 14, 2009.
UCLA, in the top 10 for the first time since January 2000,
missed its first six field-goal tries before Markel Walker
connected on a jumper at the 15:15 mark of the first half. The
Bruins began 2 for 14 to fall behind 15-4 midway through the half.
Stanford used a 10-2 run over the final 4:37 of the first half for
a 32-15 lead at the break, then came out of the locker room with a
Stanford’s players talked at the start of the season about going
unbeaten at home.
”This is our grounds. We want to protect it with everything we
have,” Pedersen said.
The Bruins will likely fall in the rankings next week after this
showing. UCLA, off to the program’s best start since beginning the
1976-77 season at 18-1, still must play at California in Berkeley
UCLA’s conference start was its best since winning the program’s
first six Pac-10 games in 2002-03.
The Bruins lost for the first time this season away from Pauley
Pavilion. They were 8-0 outside Los Angeles, 6-0 in true road games
and 2-0 at neutral sites. Stanford visits Pauley for the second
meeting of the season Feb. 20.
”It’s going to be tough to win here … obviously the No. 1
team in the country couldn’t do it,” Caldwell said. ”You don’t
have that type of winning streak without having a swagger about
UCLA missed all five of its 3-pointers in the first half and was
2 for 9 overall from long range.
Experienced Stanford senior guard Melanie Murphy checked in for
the first time all season with 6:03 left in the first half. She had
been sidelined while recovering from microfracture knee surgery.
She played seven minutes in all, but limited time was all
VanDerveer expected in Murphy’s first game back.
Stanford debuted the home version of its new uniform with a
faded silkscreen ‘S’ and also featuring campus landmarks on the
back. It was designed by associate head coach Amy Tucker.