BERKELEY, Calif. – Three days after nearly letting a 30-point lead to No. 21/19 California slip away, fourth-ranked Stanford faced questions of if it could handle the tenacity of the Golden Bears. Sunday afternoon, the Cardinal responded to the skeptics, finishing the sweep of California with a 79-64 victory behind the leadership of seniors Chiney Ogwumike and Mikaela Ruef.
Stanford won its 20th straight game, improving to 21-1 overall and 10-0 in the Pac-12. California fell to 14-7 and 6-4 in conference play.
Ogwumike scored a game-high 29 points to go with eight rebounds and four assists, while Ruef grabbed a game-high 11 rebounds with five assists and once again played shut-down defense on California’s leading scorer Reshanda Gray. The Golden Bears’ leading scorer had just seven points with five rebounds after being held scoreless three days ago.
“My question to the team at the end of last game was ‘who did it help more?’ Did it get our attention? I think it did. We came out and played really well,” Setsuko Ishiyama Director of Women’s Basketball Tara VanDerveer said after the game.
The Cardinal learned its lesson well, putting the clamps on the Golden Bears late after California had cut a 19-point deficit to nine at 64-55 with 3:39 to go. Ogwumike found a streaking Taylor Greenfield for a layup on the next trip down the court, and after a stop, hit a jumper in the paint to get the Cardinal lead to 13 at 68-55.
Stanford used the clock wisely and scored after long possessions to keep California on its heels and make every possession that much more critical. The Cardinal defense made big stops in the final minute as Ruef and Ogwumike separately blocked layup attempts from Golden Bears point guard Brittany Boyd. Ruef also went 4-for-4 from the line while Karlie Samuelson, who scored 16 points, made all six of her attempts from the line over the final 1:40 to lock up the win.
Ogwumike scored six of her 29 points over the final 5:08, and overall went 10-for-16 from the field and 9-for-12 from the line. Her 17 first-half points were key in helping Stanford overcome California’s initial push and take control late in the opening half.
“Our number one goal coming into the game was to be aggressive. We wanted to make all the hustle plays,” Ogwumike said. “we dove for loose balls, had to win jump balls, and have people fighting for loose-ball rebounds. When we have fun as a team, it’s good basketball for us.”
Ruef also scored nine points and passed out five assists to go with her 11 rebounds.
The defense of Ruef and Ogwumike was part of the late first-half push that edged the Cardinal away, as the pair limited California’s top three post players (Reshanda Gray, Gennifer Brandon, Justine Hartman) to a combined 11 points on 4-for-16 shooting. That left the burden to the Golden Bear backcourt, and the 20 points from Boyd and 16 from Mikayla Lyles weren’t enough by themselves.
Boyd and Lyles scored 10 of California’s first 12 points as the Golden Bears rode the loud home crowd to an early 12-9 lead. But Ogwumike would score the next six points for Stanford, concluding with a short bucket off the glass that made it 15-12 Stanford and forced a California timeout.
Out of the timeout Amber Orrange, who scored 13 points for the Cardinal, hit a bucket and Karlie Samuelson dropped a triple to push the lead to 20-14. Minutes later, leading 26-19, Stanford scored seven straight points over three minutes, five of those from Ogwumike, to go up 33-19 with 1:39 left in the half.“We beat a very good team,” said Setsuko Ishiyama Director of Women’s Basketball Tara VanDerveer. “Their plan was to double Chiney, and she did an excellent job passing out of the doubles. A lot of people stepped up for us, this was a great game for Mikaela.”