No. 4/4 Stanford Cardinal (10-1)
- at -
Fresno State Bulldogs (6-4)
Saturday, December 28, 2013 – 6 p.m. PT
Save Mart Center (15,544) – Fresno, Calif.
Series History: Stanford leads 21-6
Last Meeting: Nov. 9, 2012 (Stanford 72, Fresno State 61) – Stanford, Calif.
Webcast: Mountain West Network (http://www.themw.com/#!/watch-live)
Radio: 90.1 KZSU
STANFORD, Calif. - No. 4/4 Stanford returns from a six-day Holiday break to finish its non-conference slate Saturday, Dec. 28 at Fresno State. Saturday’s 6 p.m. tip will be streamed online via the Mountain West Network at http://www.themw.com/#!/watch-live. The contest can also be heard on 90.1 KZSU and online at http://kzsulive.stanford.edu.
Last Time Out
The Cardinal grabbed a signature win to close out a perfect 3-0 home stand last Saturday, defeating No. 3/3 Tennessee 76-70. Chiney Ogwumike solidified her national player of the year case with the first 30/20 performance of her career, scoring 32 points and grabbing 20 rebounds while going 15-for-25 from the field against one of the top frontcourts in the country. Freshman Lili Thompson scored a season-high 14 points with three assists, Mikaela Ruef scored eight points with eight rebounds and Taylor Greenfield hit three triples and scored 11 points off the bench. Point guard Amber Orrange, who scored nine points with five assists, hit a key three-point play with 28 seconds remaining to give the Cardinal a five-point lead and help ice the game.
About Fresno State
Fresno State (6-4) had a three-game winning streak snapped on Dec. 20 with a 76-47 loss to San Francisco. Regardless, the Bulldogs have won four of their past six games after opening the season with a 2-2 split. The Bulldogs, with head coach Raegan Pebley in her second season at the helm, are led by the play of Taylor Thompson (12.1 ppg, 4.1 rpg) and Moriah Faulk (11.3 ppg, 6.0 rpg), who pace four players averaging over 10.0 points per game.
All-Time Against Fresno State
Stanford leads the all-time series against Fresno State by a 21-6 margin, and is currently riding a nine-game winning streak against the Bulldogs. All of Fresno State’s wins in the series came from 1982-86, and the teams did not meet from 1988-2005. The teams have met in each season since 2008-09.
In The National Rankings
After Dec. 21’s win over No. 3/3 Tennessee, Stanford moved up to No. 4 in each poll, rising two slots in the Associated Press Poll and one spot in the USA Today Sports Coaches’ Poll.
In The Pac-12 Stat Rankings
Through Dec. 22 Stanford ranks in the top three of eight categories: scoring defense (58.5 - first), field-goal percentage defense (33.4 - first), assist-to-turnover ratio (1.33 - first), field-goal percentage (46.4 - second), scoring margin (+16.7 - second), assists (17.82 apg - second), blocked shots (4.09 bpg - second) and offensive rebound percentage (39.5 - third). The Cardinal also ranks fourth in rebounding margin (+7.3). Individually, Chiney Ogwumike leads the Pac-12 in scoring (26.3 ppg), is second in rebounding (11.5 rpg) and third in field-goal percentage (62.2). Mikaela Ruef is sixth in rebounding (9.4 rpg) while Amber Orrange leads the loop in 3-point field-goal percentage (50.0), is fourth in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.19), sixth in assists (4.18 apg) and eighth in field-goal percentage (52.3), and ninth in steals (1.91 spg).
In The National Stat Rankings
Through Dec. 22 Stanford ranked in the top 20 of two categories: assist-to-turnover ratio (1.33 - 12th) and field-goal percentage defense (46.4 - 13th). Individually, Chiney Ogwumike ranked fourth in scoring (26.3 ppg), 10th in field-goal percentage (62.2), 12th in double-doubles (seven) and 15th in rebounding (11.5 rpg).
Signature Win For Stanford
Stanford stretched its winning streak to nine games and flexed its national muscle with a 76-70 victory over No. 3/3 Tennessee last Saturday. With Chiney Ogwumike posting the first 30/20 game of her career with 32 points and 20 rebounds and freshman Lili Thompson scoring a season-high 14 points, the Cardinal defeated the Lady Volunteers for the third straight time and the fourth time in the past five meetings.
Ogwumike Earns National, Conference Honors
Senior forward Chiney Ogwumike played her way into the national headlines once again this past week, turning in a pair of performances that led to her being named espnW National Player of the Week for the second time in her career, and Pac-12 Player of the Week for the fourth time this season. Ogwumike scored 32 points in each of Stanford’s wins over New Mexico and No. 3/3 Tennessee last week, also grabbing 13.5 rebounds and shooting 63.0 percent (29-for-46) over the games. The Pac-12 honor was also the 13th of her career. Including Dec. 14’s 73-45 win over Gonzaga, Ogwumike averaged 27.7 points and 11.1 rebounds while shooting 59.7 percent during Stanford’s 3-0 home stand.
Ogwumike At Threshold Of Stanford, Pac-12 Rebounding Record
Chiney Ogwumike’s 20 rebounds against Tennessee brought her career total to 1,247, just 19 behind former teammate Kayla Pedersen’s Pac-12 and Stanford career record of 1,266 rebounds. Averaging 11.5 rebounds a game so far in 2013-14, Ogwumike could break the record with 20 Saturday at Fresno State, or could very likely set the new benchmark in front of the Maples Pavilion crowd Jan. 3 against Oregon.
Finishing Off A Strong Non-Conference Slate
Saturday’s contest at Fresno State concludes Stanford’s regular-season non-conference slate for 2013-14. Heading into Fresno, Stanford owns a record of 10-1, marking the fifth time in seven seasons that the Cardinal has won at least 10 of its regular-season non-conference contests. The only years in which the Cardinal did not win 10 non-conference games during the regular season were 2008-09 and 2010-11, when the Cardinal went 9-3 and 9-2, respectively. With a win Saturday at Fresno State, Stanford would notch 11 non-conference wins, matching the total achieved in 2007-08 (11-1).
Success Against Top-Five Teams
Last Saturday’s 76-70 victory over Tennessee was the Cardinal’s 12th against a top-five opponent since the 2007-08 season. After the win against the Lady Volunteers, Stanford is now 12-9 in its games against top-five opponents, including a 1-1 mark this season.
December A Month To Remember For Cardinal
The final month of the calendar year has been kind to the Cardinal as of late. Since the 2007-08 season, Stanford owns a record of 30-6 in December, and heading into Saturday’s game at Fresno State has won 16 of its last 17 games during the month. That lone loss in the stretch was last year’s 61-35 defeat at the hands of No. 2/2 Connecticut on Dec. 29.
Junior Taylor Greenfield has made an emphatic statement upon her return to action for the Cardinal. After missing the season’s first eight games due to a foot injury, Greenfield returned Dec. 14 against Gonzaga and has averaged 7.7 points over 18.7 minutes over the three games. The Huxley, Iowa native was key to the Cardinal’s 76-70 victory over No. 3/3 Tennessee last Saturday, scoring 11 points off the bench and going 3-for-5 from behind the arc. Greenfield’s shooting touch has not seemed affected by her long layoff, as over her first three games she is shooting 57.1 percent (8-for-14) from the field and 62.5 percent (5-for-8) from 3-point range.
Head coach Tara VanDerveer was praising her five-woman freshman class well before the season got underway, and as the campaign has progressed the rookies have taken turns in the spotlight. Most recently it was guard Lili Thompson who took center stage, as the Mansfield, Texas native scored 14 points and hit three triples against Tennessee last Saturday. While Thompson helped get the Cardinal started on its 13-0 run early in the first half, she was crucial to the Cardinal holding off the Lady Vols over the final 20 minutes, scoring nine of her 14 points in the second half. This year she has started nine of 11 games, averaging 5.9 points and 2.27 assists, ranking third on the team in assists.
Winning The Battle
Rebounding is as much a battle of wills as it is of strength, and last Saturday Stanford’s won both battles against a Tennessee team which entered the contest averaging 52.1 rebounds a game and had not been out-rebounded all season. That streak ended Saturday as Stanford won the rebounding battle 43-40, led by a season-high 20 rebounds from Chiney Ogwumike. Another big factor was redshirt senior Mikaela Ruef, who fought her way to eight rebounds and had the bumps and bruises to show for it after the game.
Saturday’s win over No. 3/3 Tennessee added another chapter to the great story of redshirt senior Mikaela Ruef’s emergence as a pivotal asset to the Cardinal. The Beavercreek, Ohio native grinded out eight points, eight rebounds and three assists against the Lady Volunteers, a blue-collar line that has become her trademark. Since beginning her career at the end of the Cardinal bench, then missing 2011-12 with a foot injury, Ruef fought her way into the starting lineup last season, turning heads with a 12-rebound performance Nov. 16 against No. 1/1 Baylor in her first-career start, and is now a Cardinal captain. After finishing 2012-13 with a career-best 6.6 rebounds and 2.17 assists per game, Ruef has continued in her role as Stanford’s worker bee. Through the first 11 games of this season, she is on pace to pass those marks, currently averaging 9.4 rebounds and 3.27 assists per game.
Letting Her Play Do The Talking
Soft-spoken and humble by nature, junior point guard Amber Orrange speaks loudest with her actions on the court, and none of her acts spoke louder Saturday than her three-point play with 28 seconds remaining that saved the victory for Stanford over Tennessee. With the shot clock running low and the Cardinal clinging to a two-point lead, Orrange turned the corner on a screen and attacked with her left, taking on Isabelle Harrison and claiming the bucket off the glass while drawing the foul. Once she converted the bonus, Orrange had single-handedly saved the Cardinal’s win by giving it a five-point advantage and killing off the Tennessee momentum. For the game, Orrange scored nine points with a game-high five assists.
Ogwumike Hits Career Milestones
This past week was one of milestones for senior forward Chiney Ogwumike. The Cypress, Texas native reached 2,000 career points last Monday against New Mexico, making her the eighth Cardinal player to hit the milestone as well as just the fifth to join the 2,000-Point/1,000-Rebound Club, into which she joined older sister Nnemkadi Ogwumike (2008-12), Jayne Appel (2006-10), Nicole Powell (2000-04) and Val Whiting (1989-93). After a pair of 32-point performances against New Mexico and Tennessee, Ogwumike ended the week with 2,059 career points, moving her past Jeanne Ruark Hoff into seventh place on Stanford’s all-time scoring list, and just three and 19 away from passing Nicole Powell and Val Whiting, respectively, and into the top five.
Pac-12 Season Is One Week Away For Stanford
Stanford, 13-time defending Pac-12 champion, opens up conference play next weekend, hosting Oregon and Oregon State on Jan. 3 and 5, respectively. The 2013-14 Pac-12 season officially opens Monday, Dec. 30 when UCLA and USC square off. The Cardinal will go for its 23rd conference title in 28 years in 2013-14, and at the Pac-12 Tournament in Seattle from March 6-9 will go for its 12th tournament crown in 14 years and eighth in a row.