Jan. 22, 2011
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STANFORD, Calif. (AP) - A good share of Stanford's recent opponents are ready to crown the Cardinal the next NCAA champion - even in January.
They have been that dominant of late.
Jeanette Pohlen scored 21 points and dished out a career-high 12 assists and No. 4 Stanford beat Southern California 95-51 on Saturday to win its 10th straight game since a pair of road defeats at DePaul and Tennessee last month.
"We're definitely moving in the right direction toward what we want to do at the end of the season," Pohlen said.
Freshman Chiney Ogwumike added 14 points and 11 rebounds, big sister Nnemkadi also had 14 points and Kayla Pedersen scored 11 of her 16 points in the first half as Stanford (16-2, 7-0 Pac-10) won its 56th straight home game at Maples Pavilion.
It marks the program's second longest unbeaten run at home in school history behind 59 in a row accomplished from Nov. 25, 1994, through March 14, 1998, when top-seeded Stanford became the only upset victim ever in the NCAA tournament by a 16th seed with a 71-67 loss to Harvard.
USC junior guard Briana Gilbreath scored 17 points to become the 22nd women's player to reach 1,000 career points for the Trojans (12-6, 4-3), who lost their seventh straight to Stanford and 18th of 19 overall in the rivalry.
"What the world has seen, and we have definitely seen this, I think you're seeing the next NCAA championship team," USC coach Michael Cooper said. "Last time I had my butt kicked this bad was in Boston Garden and that was as a player. That was a long time ago. This team's probably going to win it all. I will put my namesake on that one. They're a very good team and they showed it stopping UConn's 90-game winning streak."
The Cardinal completed a sweep of their Southern California rivals with their 44th straight win against Pac-10 competition. They routed eighth-ranked UCLA 64-38 in a surprisingly lopsided win Thursday night, giving the team three home wins over top-10 teams by a combined 75 points. That includes a win over two-time defending champion Connecticut on Dec. 30 that snapped the Huskies' record 90-game winning streak.
Stanford shot 52.1 percent, held a 54-36 rebounding advantage and didn't commit a turnover until 6:38 left in the first half when Sarah Boothe grabbed an offensive rebound and was whistled for traveling. The Cardinal led 67-38 at halftime and coach Tara VanDerveer used her bench for much of the game's final 10 minutes.
VanDerveer wants everybody to have played key minutes before the Cardinal make a run at their fourth straight Final Four and first NCAA title since 1992 after two runner-up finishes in the past three seasons.
"Keeping people fresh at this time is really important," VanDerveer said.
Pohlen knocked down four of Stanford's 10 3-pointers and Pedersen hit three 3s. Boothe added 11 points and nine rebounds off the bench.
VanDerveer has encouraged starting guard Lindy La Rocque to look for her shot as part of an effort to make the Cardinal a more effective perimeter team and open things up for the powerful post players.
"I really want to play a more open game. This year with people, keep shooting until I strangle you is my motto," VanDerveer joked. "We want to score more and run more."
The Trojans started the game with snappy ball movement to create open looks and crashed the offensive boards to get second chances. But after going ahead 8-7 on 6-foot-5 Kari LaPlante's putback at the 16:26 mark of the first half, Stanford produced a 15-2 run to go ahead 22-10 - and Cooper quickly called timeout.
Chiney Ogwumike had six points during that stretch, then her sister scored 10 points after halftime. Both Ogwumike sisters are overmatching people with their leaping ability and overall athleticism.
"They just wear you down. Nneka, there were a couple of plays I was in awe," Cooper said. "You don't usually see that in the women's game. You see that in the men's game."
The Trojans missed five of six field goals during that stretch. They were 0 for 5 on 3-pointers in the first half and 2 of 16 overall from long range.
Gilbreath hit a pair of free throws with 14:41 left in the game put her over the 1,000-point mark.
USC dropped consecutive games for the first time all season after an 82-71 loss at California on Thursday night.
Stanford freshman guard and key reserve Toni Kokenis, who had five steals Thursday, did not dress after getting fouled in the head in the closing minutes of the UCLA game. She experienced slight headaches Friday and didn't practice, then was evaluated Saturday. The school said she didn't sustain a concussion but was being held out as a precaution. Kokenis is expected back for games at Oregon and Oregon State next week.