The pecking order atop the PAC-10 is clear: Stanford is 1 and UCLA is 2. Stanford reasserted itself as the obvious choice for the conference’s best team by engineering a 67-53 win in UCLA’s Pauley Pavilion while staying perfect against conference opponents and defeating UCLA by a wide margin for the second time this calendar year.
Stanford couldn’t repeat the 26-point killing that it give UCLA when the Bruins traveled to Maples Pavilion late last month, but the Card dismantled the nation’s #9 team on the road without Stanford’s best player, junior forward Nneka Ogwumike, who suffered an ankle injury in Friday night’s contest against USC. Without their All-American and interior leader, Stanford played UCLA to a 28-28 tie at the half before pulling away after the break.
The win is due in large part to the play of Chiney Ogwumike, Nneka’s sister. The freshman post player logged a career-high 37 minutes and led all scorers with 18 points and all players with a whopping 15 rebounds. Fellow Stanford “baby” Toni Kokenis, who’s been on the radar all season but hasn’t had many chances to get playing time, came off the bench to also play a career-high 37 minutes. Kokenis complemented senior point guard Jeanette Pohlen in the backcourt while scoring 13 points and notching 3 steals. Kayla Pedersen (13 points, 11 rebounds) and Pohlen (10 points, 5 assists) also played solid games for the cardinal and white.
Although Stanford shot an uncharacteristically poor 28% from three, both Kokenis and Ogwumike did their scoring on high-percentage shots. The freshman duo combined to shoot 60% from the field and 86% from the free throw line, with Ogwumike attempting more than half of Stanford’s free throw attempts (Chiney shot 12 of the team’s 22 shots from the line).
UCLA’s Jasmine Dixon led the Bruins again by scoring 10 points and pulling down 12 rebounds. Darxia Morris topped all UCLA scorers with 14 points on the day.
Stanford has just the Oregon schools and Cal standing in the way of a 27-2 regular season and a perfect 18-0 mark in conference play. All three games will take place in Maples Pavilion, beginning with Oregon State’s visit to the Farm on Thursday evening.