Stanford struggled to pull away from the Golden Bears in the first half, but dramatically outplayed Cal in the game’s final 20 minutes before completing an 18-0 conference season with a 75-51 win. In Maples Pavilion, the Card secured its second consecutive undefeated PAC-10 regular season. The last conference opponent to beat Stanford was Cal, which won in Berkeley on January 18, 2009.
In just her second game back from an ankle injury, Nneka Ogwumike played 37 minutes, and used them to score 16 points and grab 8 rebounds. Ogwumike played only 12 minutes on Saturday against Oregon, but Stanford head coach Tara VanDerveer now seems committed to playing Ogwumike for complete games–with periodic breathers–from here on out.
Senior point guard Jeanette Pohlen turned in the strongest performance of Stanford’s Senior Night by leading all scorers with 18 points on 70% shooting from the floor. Fellow senior Kayla Pedersen narrowly missed her second straight double-double and left Maples Pavilion with 14 points and 9 rebounds. The surging Toni Kokenis added 27 minutes, 8 points, and 4 rebounds off the bench for Stanford, which shot 52% from the field as a team.
Cal wasn’t so fortunate. The Golden Bears made only a fraction of a percentage more than one-third of its field goal attempts, while committing more turnovers and fouls than Stanford. The Card also outrebounded the Bears by 10. DeNesha Stallworth, one of Cal’s best players and a regular force in the post, finished with 0 points, 0 blocks, and 3 rebounds. In the season series against Stanford, Stallworth shot 0-5 with 2 points and 4 rebounds.
Cal’s primary scorer on the night was senior guard Rachelle Federico, who put up 16 points in the final regular season game of her career. Lindsay Sherbert and Layshia Clarendon scored 13 and 12 points, respectively, for the visitors.
Cal kept the game close for a while; at halftime, Stanford led by just 5. But like every other team in the conference, Berkeley had no answer for the size and athleticism of Stanford. VanDerveer didn’t even need to use her team’s excellent depth to any significant degree. Although she played 12 women over the course of the game, only Kokenis played 10 or more minutes from the bench.
Even though the Card clinched the PAC-10 regular season championship against Oregon, Thursday night’s win not only completes the perfect conference season, but also finishes a perfect home career for the graduating seniors. Stanford has not lost in Maples Pavilion in 61 games, a span that outlasts the collegiate careers of current 4-year players. Stanford’s last loss at Maples came in the NCAA tournament against Florida State on March 19, 2007.
Stanford will have an opportunity to rest up before beginning the PAC-10 tournament in Los Angeles next Friday. Stanford will play at noon in the Staples Center as the #1 seed.
(Headline image courtesy of CarbonNYC via Flickr)