STANFORD, Calif. - No. 6/6 Stanford aims to bounce back from its first conference loss in four years when it hosts No. 14/15 UCLA Friday night at Maples Pavilion. Friday's contest will be televised nationally on the Pac-12 Network with Krista Blunk and Mary Murphy calling the action. The game will also be available on the radio at 90.1 KZSU with Preston Chin on the call.
Last Time Out
Stanford suffered its first conference loss since Jan. 18, 2009 this past Sunday, falling 67-55 to California at Maples Pavilion. While the Cardinal defense was able to hold the Golden Bears to just 29.7-percent shooting (19-for-64), the offense could never get into full gear as Stanford shot 35.2 percent from the field. Forward Chiney Ogwumike led the Cardinal with 18 points and nine rebounds, Toni Kokenis went for 12 points and six rebounds and Amber Orrange scored nine points but it was not enough as Stanford dropped consecutive home games for the first time since the 2000-01 season.
UCLA (13-2, 4-0 Pac-12) enters Friday's game on a six-game winning streak and tied for first place in the Pac-12 as one of just two unbeaten teams remaining (with USC). With Cori Close in her second year at the Bruin helm, UCLA is led by the play of Markel Walker (12.9 ppg, 8.3 rpg), Atonye Nyingifa (10.9 ppg, 7.6 rpg) and Tennessee transfer Alyssia Brewer (10.8 ppg, 8.4 rpg).
Stanford leads the overall series against UCLA, 51-22, and has won 13 in a row against the Bruins.
Stanford In The National Polls
Stanford dropped a spot to No. 6 in the Associated Press Poll and two spots to No. 6 in the USA Today Sports Coaches' Poll this week. The No. 6 ranking marks the first time Stanford has been outside of the top five in either poll since the week of March 9-15, 2009, when the Cardinal was sixth in the AP Poll and seventh in the coaches' poll.
In The Pac-12 Statistics
Through Jan. 13, Stanford ranked in the top three of 11 statistical categories amongst Pac-12 schools: scoring defense (52.8 ppg - first), scoring margin (+16.7 - first), field-goal percentage (47.4 - first), field-goal percentage defense (31.8 - first), assist-to-turnover ratio (1.08 - first), defensive rebounds (30.3 drpg - second), free-throw percentage (72.5 - second), 3-point field-goal percentage defense (25.3 - second), blocked shots (5.19 bpg - t-second), scoring offense (69.5 ppg - third) and rebounding defense (33.6 rpg - third). Individually, Chiney Ogwumike leads the conference in scoring (21.4 ppg), and is second in rebounding (11.6 rpg) and field-goal percentage (57.6). Senior forward Joslyn Tinkle is second in the conference with 2.06 blocks per game and sixth with a 50.9 shooting percentage. Amber Orrange is second in the Pac-12 with a 1.49 assist-to-turnover ratio and is fourth with 4.38 assists per game. Taylor Greenfield's 39.5 3-point field-goal percentage is fourth in the Pac-12 and Toni Kokenis (86.1) and Chiney Ogwumike (85.9) own the third- and fourth-best free-throw percentages, respectively, in the conference.
In the National Statistics
Through the latest national statistical update (Jan. 14), Stanford ranks in the top 20 of six categories: turnovers per game (12.3 - fourth), field-goal percentage defense (31.8 - fifth), field-goal percentage (47.4 - sixth), fouls per game (13.3 - 18th), scoring margin (+16.6 - 20th) and 3-point field-goal defense (25.3 - 20th). Chiney Ogwumike is ninth in the nation in rebounding (11.8 rpg), eighth in scoring (21.6 ppg), 11th in field-goal percentage (57.8) and fourth with 11 double-doubles.
Pac-12 Winning Streak Comes To An End
Stanford's program- and conference-record 81-game Pac-12 winning streak came to an end Sunday afternoon against California, as the Golden Bears claimed a 67-55 win at Maples Pavilion. The Cardinal's 81-game run was bookended by the Golden Bears, who owned the previous Pac-12 win over Stanford, a 57-54 decision in Berkeley on Jan. 18, 2009. Stanford's 81-game run began with the following game, an 85-57 win at Oregon on Jan. 22, 2009. That win kick-started a streak in which the Cardinal won its final 13 regular-season conference games that season (2008-09) then put together three straight 18-0 campaigns (2010-12). The streak also included 11 wins at the Pac-12 Tournament.
Stanford Not In First Place For First Time In Almost Four Years
Sunday's loss also knocked Stanford out of a share of first place in the Pac-12, as UCLA and USC now share the top spot at 4-0. The moment brings up a remarkable achievement for the Cardinal, as it had owned outright or shared first place in the conference standings for just under four years. Stanford owned outright or shared the top spot on the conference table since Feb. 14, 2009, when it defeated California 58-41 to pull into a tie for first place on the Pac-10 table. That win was part of Stanford's 13-game winning streak to end the 2008-09 Pac-10 regular season, and the Cardinal would go on to claim the Pac-10 title outright with a 17-1 record. With 18-0 conference records from 2010-12, and a 3-0 start this season, Stanford had never left the top spot of the conference table from Feb. 14, 2009 to Jan. 13, 2013, a span of 1,429 days.
A Chance To Get Right Back To The Top
Stanford has a great chance to bounce back from Sunday's defeat and fight its way back into at least a share of the Pac-12 lead this weekend as it hosts the two remaining unbeatens in the conference, No. 14/15 UCLA and USC. The trek back to the top of the conference table begins Friday night against the Bruins, against which the Cardinal has won 13 in a row. As for the Trojans, Stanford has captured the past 10 meetings against them. With 3-1 California hosting the Trojans Thursday night, there's a chance that by the end of the weekend the Pac-12 could have at least three teams tied for the top spot on the table.
Stanford Still No. 1 In RPI Rankings
The NCAA released the latest 2012-13 RPI rankings Jan. 14 and for the second straight week Stanford holds the No. 1 spot on the list. The Cardinal's top spot in the RPI rankings can be attributed to its 14-2 start to the season in the face of a challenging schedule, and chiefly to its 11-0 record away from home. Out of those 11 wins away from home, five came against Top-25 opponents (Baylor, South Carolina, Tennessee, Colorado, California).
Stanford's Current Streak Against UCLA
Entering Friday's meeting at Maples Pavilion Stanford owns a 13-game winning streak against UCLA, winning those contests by an average margin of 19.1 points per game. In fact, only two wins over this current streak have been decided by a single-digit margin: a 65-61 Stanford win on Jan. 10, 2010 in Los Angeles and a 64-55 Pac-10 Championship Game victory on March 12, 2011. The current streak also includes three wins at the Pac-10 Tournament, most notably championship-game wins in 2010 and 2011.
Ogwumike Thrives Against Top-25 Competition
Junior forward and consensus national player of the year candidate continued her award-worthy 2012-13 campaign over last week's games against No. 7/7 California. Despite the Cardinal splitting the results with the Golden Bears, Ogwumike was key to Stanford's performances, averaging 22.0 points and 7.5 rebounds while shooting 62.1 percent (18-for-29) from the field, including a 26-point effort last Tuesday in Berkeley. So far this season, in which Ogwumike is in the national top 11 in scoring, rebounding and field-goal percentage, she has turned up her performance when facing Top-25 teams, averaging 20.3 points and 11.6 rebounds while shooting 50.4 percent.
Playing Well Against Her Roots
Although Stanford's Second City Sparkplug, Toni Kokenis, is billed from the Chicago suburb of Oak Brook, Ill., the junior guard's roots actually extend to Los Angeles. With her parents and various extended family members having graduated from either UCLA or USC, Kokenis enjoys a unique connection in her games against the Bruins and Trojans. In fact, some of Kokenis' best performances have come against the alma maters of her extended family. Over five career games against the Bruins, Kokenis is averaging 11.0 points and 2.00 assists, and most notably went 7-for-9 for 17 points with a pair of assists against UCLA in Stanford's 64-55 win in the Pac-10 Championship Game on March 12, 2011. Over three career games against USC, she has averaged 12.3 points and 2.33 assists.
Putting Hands In Opponents' Faces
Stanford's defense continued its lockdown efforts last week against California and continues to be on pace for a record-breaking season. Although the Cardinal split last week's results, the defense allowed just 53 and 67 points in the two games, and has thus far prevented an opponent from reaching 70 points all season. In fact, entering Friday's game against UCLA the Cardinal owns a streak of 34 games (dating back to the final 18 of 2011-12) in which its opponent has not scored 70 points. The last team to reach the 70-point mark against the Cardinal was California, which scored 71 points in a 74-71 overtime loss at Maples Pavilion last Jan. 28.
California, over last week's games, shot just 29.9 percent (38-for-127), lowering Stanford's opponents' field-goal percentage this year to a conference-leading 31.8 percent. That number and Stanford's 52.9 points allowed per game are on pace to break the program record. The previous lowest opponents' field-goal percentage is 33.6 percent, set in 2010-11, and the lowest opponents' scoring average is 53.9 points per game, set in 2009-10.
An Unfamiliar January Loss
While Sunday's 67-55 loss to California broke Stanford's 81-game Pac-12 winning streak, another streak of Stanford's that was snapped was its run of 29 straight wins in the month of January. Prior to Sunday, Stanford's last loss in January was the 57-54 defeat suffered at California on Jan. 18, 2009.
Playing Her Way Into The Lineup?
Junior Sara James has drawn praise recently from head coach Tara VanDerveer after some promising outings in the small forward role. Two weekends ago at Utah, James helped the Cardinal put the stubborn Utes away with a career-high 18 points on 6-of-8 shooting, including a 3-for-5 effort from behind the arc. Last Sunday, in Stanford's 67-55 loss to California, James scored six points and grabbed three rebounds in nine minutes of actionto continue her more aggressive ways. With her 3-point shooting and willing attitude towards battling for rebounds, James could be seeing more minutes on the court to reignite Stanford's outside shooting.