Ogwumike, No. 6 Stanford women beat Texas 63-54

JIM VERTUNO (AP Sports Writer)
The Associated PressNovember 23, 2013
Ogwumike, No. 6 Stanford women beat Texas 63-54
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Stanford forward Chiney Ogwumike, right, fights for position with Texas forward Nneka Enemkpali during the first period of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Nov. 23, 2013, in Austin, Texas. (AP Photo/Michael Thomas)

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) -- Back on the court where she won two Texas state high school championships, Stanford star Chiney Ogwumike was struggling to find the basket.

It was easy to see why: Ogwumike had a 6-foot-7 defender standing in her way.

So Stanford moved her outside, picked up the pressure on defense to force turnovers and transition baskets, and the No. 6 Cardinal fought their way back from poor first half to earn a 63-54 win Saturday at Texas.

Ogwumike overcame a poor shooting start to finish with 18 points and keyed a second-half run for the Cardinal (4-1).

''This game forced me to be outside. It was a little uncomfortable,'' Ogwumike said. ''This game really taught our team, and me in particular, how to be tough mentally.''

Ogwumike scored just four points in the first half in a physical matchup with Texas center Imani McGee-Stafford, but found space for open shots and scored several baskets after Texas turnovers in the Cardinal rally. Ogwumike scored 10 points in a 16-0 Stanford run in the second half.

Mikaela Ruef had 11 points and 10 rebounds for Stanford, which earned coach Tara VanDerveer career victory No. 898, moving her closer to being just the fifth women's coach to reach 900.

''Mikaela really helped us by knocking down her shots in the first half,'' VanDerveer said.

Imani McGee-Stafford had 12 points and 14 rebounds for Texas, but scored just two points after halftime.

Chassidy Fussell scored 15 points for Texas (3-1). The Longhorns led 37-30 at halftime thanks in large part to a defensive effort that held Ogwumike to 2-of-11 shooting and just two rebounds.

McGee-Stafford blocked Ogwumike's first shot and altered several others. Even when she stepped away from the basket, Ogwumike misfired. The preseason unanimous All-American missed everything on one 3-point attempt, and her last shot of the half, a 3-pionter at the buzzer, never made to the basket as McGee-Stafford stuck up a long arm to tip it in the first half.

''She's so tall and changes your look at the basket,'' Ogwumike said. ''She's athletic and quick.''

Fussell scored 11 and Texas closed the first half with an 18-8 run over the final 6 minutes.

Stanford fought back in the second. McGee-Stafford already had a double-double when she went to the bench with a third foul, and the Cardinal struck with a big run. Ogwumike scored 10 in the burst and Amber Orrange's basket made it 41-40 with 13 minutes to play. Stanford never trailed again.

''It was sloppy, I thought our attention to detail slipped,'' Texas coach Karen Aston said. ''We got lackadaisical. That led to easy buckets for them.''

Texas misfired from every shooting angle and range in the second half, missing 24 of 29 shots.

''We stoked it up on defense, forced them to make mistakes and got some easy baskets in transition,'' Ruef said. ''And Chiney was making shots. That always helps.

Stanford struggled with its own shooting. The Cardinal shot just 32 percent for the game, scored just six points in the paint and was just 15 of 25 from the free throw line.

The Cardinal now have won six in a row in the rivalry between two of women's basketball's traditional powerhouse programs. But while the Cardinal have maintained their status as national title contenders - fueled by a starting lineup with three players from the state of Texas - the Longhorns are still in rebuilding mode in their second year under Aston.

Texas hasn't advanced past the first round of the NCAA tournament since 2008 and fell to 12-18 last season to finish in eighth place in the Big 12.

''We're light years ahead of where we were,'' Aston said. ''We have to be a lot better if we're going to challenge for anything in our league.''