Cardinal women power past Sun Devils 62-49By JOHN MARSHALL, AP Basketball Writer Thursday, Feb 2, 2012
TEMPE, Ariz. (AP)—With a gritty, grinding team hanging around well into the second half, Stanford turned where it always does: to the Ogwumike sisters.
Once they got rolling, Arizona State had no chance.
Nnemkadi Ogwumike had 22 points and 16 rebounds, her sister Chiney had 20 points and 16 rebounds, and No. 4 Stanford overpowered the Sun Devils in the second half for a 62-49 win Thursday night.
“They’ve got a great 1-2 punch with those two being able to do what they do,” Arizona State interim coach Joseph Anders said.
Stanford (19-1, 9-0 Pac-12) needed overtime to beat California in its last game and found itself in another fight against the scrappy Sun Devils. The Cardinal pulled away over the final 12 minutes behind the Ogwumike sisters, who combined for 13 points during a 20-2 run that put them up 18.
Nnemkadi had seven of Stanford’s 20 offensive rebounds, Chiney snared six and the Cardinal scored 16 second-chance while outscoring Arizona State 34-20 inside to win their 67th straight conference game.
“When it comes down to big times in games, crunch time, you want to have the rebounds,” Chiney said. “Our team was able to maintain our composure.”
Arizona State (15-6, 6-4) kept it close by slowing the game down and was still tied with 12 minutes left. The Sun Devils couldn’t handle the Ogwumike sisters inside nor Stanford’s defensive pressure after that, going more than 10 minutes without a field goal as the game got out of hand.
Deja Mann had 11 points and Micaela Pickens 10 for Arizona State, which lost its 12th straight to the Cardinal.
“I don’t think we were as focused and they kept working harder and harder,” Mann said of Stanford’s second-half run. “We didn’t match it.”
Stanford’s only loss this season was to then-No. 2 Connecticut back in November. Since then, the Cardinal have won 16 straight, most of those lopsidedly.
Stanford did have a tough game the last time out, needing overtime to beat rival California 74-71 on Saturday. Chiney Ogwumike led the way, setting career highs with 27 points and 18 rebounds while her sister, the Pac-12’s scoring and rebounding leader, fought through a stomach flu that had kept her out of practice the two previous days.
Arizona State was expected to be just as tough, in the midst of a solid season without coach Charli Turner Thorne, who took a nine-month leave of absence last May.
With Anders leading the way, the Sun Devils are tied for second in the Pac-12 with Cal—their opponent on Saturday—following a three-game losing streak with five straight wins.
Arizona State has done it with defense, ranking in the top 15 nationally in field goal percentage against (33 percent), blocked shots (6.1 per game) and scoring (51.9).
For the Sun Devils to have a chance against the Cardinal, they were going to rely on that defense and find a way to slow the game down.
They did just that early.
Struggling to get decent looks or even hold onto the ball against Arizona State’s pressure, Stanford missed 10 of its first 12 shots and had six turnovers in the opening eight minutes.
Problem for the Sun Devils was that they couldn’t make anything, either, opening the game just 4 of 15 before starting to drop a few shots.
Stanford turned it around by working the ball inside, where the Ogwumike sisters were able to seal off Arizona State’s defenders and get easy baskets or to the free throw line. Still, the Cardinal had just 28 points at the half—low for any team, much less one that came in sixth in the nation in scoring.
“We just turned the ball over, we tried to run some stuff that we really weren’t ready to run, kind of spreading out a little bit,” Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer said.
The second half started off the same way, with Stanford missing 11 of its first 15 shots and Arizona State grinding the pace to hang close until midway through.
The Cardinal pulled away behind their defense and by getting the ball back inside.
Tied at 40-all, Stanford forced Arizona State into turnovers on three straight possessions and held the Sun Devils to two points and 0-of-9 shooting during its big run. The Ogwumike sisters had their way inside at the other end, scoring on alley-oops and offensive rebounds to push the lead to 60-42 with just under 4 minutes left.
“We were able to battle through and get to the 12-minute mark, but at that particular point, the sisters came to play,” Anders said.
Like they always seem to.