The Stanford contingent of the 4,000-plus fans in Maples Pavilion may have been nervous when the Cardinal’s 30-point second-half lead over No. 21/19 California dwindled to five with just 18 seconds to play, but All-American Chiney Ogwumike wasn’t worried.
“I never go ‘uh-oh,’” the national player of the year candidate said when asked when at which point she uttered the phrase during the Golden Bears comeback attempt. “We always talk about keeping our poise. That’s the one thing that may have helped their run, that we may have stayed a little too calm and too poised at times. We need to kick into another gear.”
Ogwumike scored 23 points and grabbed 12 rebounds for her 16th double-double of the season as fourth-ranked Stanford (20-1, 9-0 Pac-12) rode out California’s desperate assault over the final 13 minutes to grab the 70-64 victory.
The teams will play again in three days, tipping off at 1 p.m. Sunday in Berkeley in a game televised on ESPN2.
Taylor Greenfield hit consecutive 3-pointers to cap a 12-0 Stanford run and put the Cardinal up by 30 at 59-29 and on the way to an easy win with 13:35 to play. Just over a minute later, Erica McCall and California’s Brittany Boyd went down fighting for a rebound, and the moment seemed to send a shot through the Golden Bears, who had looked listless over the previous 28 minutes.
The Bears (14-6, 6-3 Pac-12) scored 14 straight points before Ogwumike hit a pair of free throws to snap a nearly five-minute Stanford scoring drought and make it 61-43 with 8:50 to play. California had grabbed just 17 rebounds to 24 for Stanford in the first half but had suddenly come alive on the boards, pulling down 27 over the final 20 minutes.
California’s Brittany Boyd score 25 points to lead all players, and Gennifer Brandon came off the bench for 10 points and 10 rebounds, eight of each coming in the second half.
Despite Stanford’s offense cooling off and making just three more field goals, all from Ogwumike, the rest of the way, the Cardinal defense kept its composure enough to make key stops. Twice during the 13-minute stretch Stanford held California scoreless for nearly two minutes, eating up valuable clock. The Golden Bears went over the limit with 3:11 to go, and a combination of Stanford going 3-for-4 from the line and Ogwumike coming up with key buckets inside at the 2:12 mark and with 52 seconds to play put enough distance between the teams to wrap up Stanford’s 19th straight win.
Highlighting the Cardinal’s defensive effort was Mikaela Ruef, who was tasked much of the game with defending California’s Reshanda Gray, and held the Golden Bear center scoreless and to just five rebounds. Ruef complimented her fine defensive play with eight points and 12 rebounds.
“We played really well for about 30 minutes out of 40, but the games are 40 minutes long,” Setsuko Ishiyama Director of Women’s Basketball Tara VanDerveer said. “I think the end of this game had to get everyone’s attention on our team, and we need to get ready to go against them Sunday.”
Gray went to the bench with 10:42 remaining in the first half and the teams separated by two points, Stanford up 15-13. From there the Cardinal went after California’s smaller lineup, ripping off eight straight points including a pair of jumpers from freshman Erica McCall. The lead increased the 11 at 36-25 on Karlie Samuelson’s 3-pointer with 2:47 to go, then the freshman, capped off her 12-point first half with a triple just before the buzzer as Stanford took a 43-25 lead into the break.
Samuelson scored 14 points on the night to lead a strong bench effort for the Cardinal. Stanford’s bench outscored California’s 32-19 Thursday, as Greenfield added 10 points and McCall went for eight points with four rebounds in 13 minutes.“I was really excited about how Karlie played, and Taylor really came in and helped us, and Erica McCall had really big minutes for us,” VanDerveer said.