Chiney Ogwumike grabbed 14 rebounds Friday night to become the Pac-12’s all-time leading rebounder in No. 4/4 Stanford’s 96-66 win over Oregon, and afterwards, it took her a few moments to let the accomplishment sink in.
“Honestly, there are a few times when I’m speechless,” Ogwumike said when asked to put her accomplishment into perspective. “I just have great teammates. I love playing for my team so every night I just go out there and play to the best of my ability. [Records] are great headlines, or something. I just try to be consistent for Coach Tara and our program. It’s exciting to hear about these things, but I always have the bigger picture in mind. I just love playing with our team.”
Ogwumike, who also scored 33 points to post her ninth double-double of the year, eclipsed former teammate Kayla Pedersen’s mark of 1,266 with a defensive rebound with 12:20 to go in the contest. She now sits atop the Pac-12 rebounding list with 1,271 rebounds, followed by Pedersen and former Cardinal standouts Jayne Appel (1,263) and older sister Nnemkadi Ogwumike (1,226).
“We have such a great sisterhood at Stanford, where [former players] don’t just leave. We come in as freshmen and have seniors mentoring us, teaching us what’s important,” Ogwumike added when asked about joining the former Cardinal standouts in the record book. “Having Kayla, Jayne and Nneka on that list shows that we all have a great legacy at Stanford, and that’s one of our mottos throughout the whole athletic department.”
Ogwumike received plenty of help on both ends of the court from her teammates, as the Cardinal limited Oregon, the nation’s highest-scoring team at 105.3 points per game entering Friday, to a season-low 66 points. The Ducks shot just 33.8 percent from the field, missing their first eight 3-point attempts and finishing the game 6-for-26 from behind the arc.
Offensively, junior Bonnie Samuelson paced a Cardinal bench that scored 47 points Friday. Samuelson matched a career high with six 3-pointers and scored a career-best 21 points over just 17 minutes. Younger sister Karlie Samuelson, Taylor Greenfield, Jasmine Camp and Lili Thompson all hit triples as Stanford matched its season high with 12 makes from behind the arc.
“Tara’s been preaching that to us all year, that we need to be ready and go out there and do our jobs,” Bonnie Samuelson said. “It was good that I shot well tonight because that hopefully helped release some pressure on Chiney and get her going. We know we have the best player in the nation on our team and we want to enjoy this year as much as we can with her.”
Still, the Ducks stubbornly stayed with the Cardinal for much of the first half, trailing by just five at 25-20 with 7:49 to play. Sophomore Jillian Alleyne was a major factor inside for the Ducks, going 11-for-15 from the field and scoring 26 points, the most by a player against the Cardinal this season, to go with 13 rebounds.
“Oregon is a much-improved team. Our team had to come out and play very well and we did. Chiney got it going inside, and Bonnie, Taylor, Karlie, Jas and Lili all got it going outside, and our team worked really hard on defense,” said Setsuko Ishiyama Director of Women’s Basketball Tara VanDerveer. “We decided to pick our poison and stay extended on their 3-point shooters, and Jillian Alleyne made us pay for that.
“But all in all, this was a really good first game for us to come out with in the Pac-12 regular season,” VanDerveer added.
After Chrishae Rowe’s jumper pulled the Ducks to within five, Stanford answered as Thompson and the elder Samuelson hit consecutive triples to fuel a 10-0 run. Samuelson would hit three more triples over the final three minutes of the half to pace Stanford’s 26-14 run over the half’s final 7:32 that gave the Cardinal a 51-34 lead at the break.
But it would be Ogwumike who showed that she was still the queen bee amongst post players this game, scoring 15 of the Cardinal’s first 20 points of the second half to give Stanford control. Ogwumike’s layup with 9:59 to go put the Cardinal in front 71-47, and three minutes later Samuelson would complete a three-point play and then hit a 3-pointer over consecutive possessions to get the lead to 32 at 81-49.
“This week we worked really hard on our Oregon stuff and I think it showed tonight,” said Samuelson. “We really work to execute what our coaches want us to do and the hard work we put in all week really helped us.”