Jan. 5, 2013
BOULDER, Colo. (AP) - Chiney Ogwumike hardly gave Stanford's big loss in its previous game a second thought.
The forward simply said her team had an off day and an off day against Connecticut can make any team look bad.
What she did worry about was this: Not letting such a lopsided loss happen again. It didn't on this night, anyway.
Ogwumike had 20 points and 11 rebounds, helping No. 4 Stanford get back on track with a 57-40 win over No. 20 Colorado on Friday night in the Cardinal's first game since losing the top spot in the poll.
The Cardinal (12-1, 0-1 Pac-12) never trailed as they rebounded from a 61-35 loss to UConn that not only snapped their nation-leading home winning streak, but ended their six-week run at No. 1.
"We know what we're capable of," Ogwumike said. "We know what our expectations are. We're trying to meet that. But I think sometimes early success can make you complacent. We needed a wakeup call, a reality check."
UConn definitely provided it, showing the Cardinal they still have work to do. And they went about fixing their flaws against Colorado.
"Every team has a bad night and we had a bad night. It just happened to be against UConn, so it was exposed," Ogwumike said. "I think it was good because it grounded us. This is a great starting point for us, a new chance to start a new season."
The Cardinal began a quest for a 13th straight conference title on the right note. They also ran their winning streak against league opponents to 79 straight.
"We were ready to play," coach Tara VanDerveer said. "We came in and kind of took it to them the way some teams have taken it to us."
Stanford's swarming defense prevented Colorado (11-1, 0-1) from getting into any sort of offensive flow, as the Buffaloes scored just 14 points in the first half - the team's fewest-ever at home. With Colorado's loss, UConn and Duke are now the only undefeated teams in Division I.
Chucky Jeffery led Colorado with 17 points, while the team's leading scorer, Arielle Roberson, was held largely in check and finished with 10.
The Cardinal didn't allow altitude or aggravation to play a factor in this game, putting any thoughts of the loss to UConn out of their minds. Then again, Stanford hasn't lost back-to-back games since December 2010.
Coming into this contest, the Buffs figured they had the perfect recipe for an upset, a blueprint provided by UConn - bully Stanford around on the boards.
It didn't quite work out that way. The Cardinal turned out to be the aggressors, outrebounding the Buffs 41-27.
This was simply how the night went for Stanford: Joslyn Tinkle hit a long 3-pointer with the shot clock almost at zero on the team's opening possession. The Cardinal quickly jumped out to a 17-2 lead midway through the first quarter and never really looked back, taking a 31-14 lead at halftime.
From there, Colorado was trying to avoid some dubious distinctions. Namely, setting a record for fewest points in a game.
But with a late surge, the Buffs avoided that piece of history. Their record for fewest points in a contest was 32 at Texas on Jan. 17, 2009. Jeffery helped CU sidestep that on a short jumper with 4:44 remaining, slicing Stanford's lead to 49-34.
Jeffery then hit another shot - and was fouled on the play - to cut the lead to 12 and get the crowd revved up.
Ogwumike quickly silenced the audience with two layups in a 14-second span to end any idea of a comeback.
Colorado simply dug too deep of an early hole.
"We were tentative," Buffs coach Linda Lappe said. "We were trying almost too hard at times, but in the wrong way."
A member of the preseason All-America team, Ogwumike was as good as advertised, hitting jumpers in the lane, driving hard to the hoop and displaying a soft baby hook with her left hand. No matter who the Buffaloes assigned to Ogwumike, she simply couldn't be stopped.
And when Ogwumike wasn't bulldozing through the Buffs, Tinkle went to work. Tinkle and Amber Orrange each finished with 13 points.
"I said this to the team, `Last week, we don't want that to determine the team we are. It's all about how we react. How we bounce back from it,"' Tinkle said. "I think we were embarrassed because that's not the kind of team we are."
No, they're more of a blue-collar team, as Ogwumike has taken to calling them, paying close attention to all the little things.
"We came out from the get-go. We came out to play," Tinkle said.
With Lappe now leading the squad, the Buffs are ever so steadily becoming a formidable opponent again. They appeared in the rankings for the first time in five years and have their sights set on making the NCAA tournament field, which they haven't done since 2004.
However, this wasn't exactly the performance Lappe had in mind as Stanford returned to playing like, well, Stanford.
It doesn't get any easier as the Buffs host seventh-ranked California on Sunday.
"In this game, we learned a lot about ourselves," Roberson said. "Just because they're a bigger team and their name is Stanford, (doesn't mean) we can't play. If anything, we should believe more in ourselves. ...
"We can take that into Cal."