for this game

No. 2 Stanford holds off No. 7 Duke 71-55

Dec 16, 2009 - 5:48 AM By JANIE McCAULEY AP Sports Writer

STANFORD, Calif.(AP) -- Tara VanDerveer formed a long list of things for Stanford to work on before Tennessee comes to town Saturday: the basic rebounding technique of blocking out, better shot selection, taking care of the ball.

Her team did none of that very effectively Tuesday night, yet still won.

Kayla Pedersen had 22 points, eight rebounds and two blocked shots and No. 2 Stanford extended its winning streak at Maples Pavilion to 34 games with a hard-fought 71-55 victory over No. 7 Duke.

"Our defense really won the game for us," VanDerveer said. "To me it was a heavyweight fight. I'm really proud of how our team did."

Nnemkadi Ogwumike added 18 points and eight rebounds for the Cardinal (8-0) but took the brunt of hits inside in a physical game more resembling an NCAA tournament matchup than a mid-December contest. Reserve JJ Hones added 12 points, scoring six straight during one span late.

Next up for the Cardinal are the third-ranked Lady Vols. Then, Stanford plays top-ranked Connecticut at Hartford on Dec. 23.

Karima Christmas scored 16 points and Jasmine Thomas had 14 to lead cold-shooting Duke (7-2) in its first visit to Stanford's home court.

The Blue Devils, playing for the first time in nine days following a break for final exams, threatened on several occasions but ultimately couldn't overcome a 17-point first-half deficit and had their six-game winning streak end.

VanDerveer, in her 24th year, earned her first win against Duke coach Joanne P. McCallie, who had been 3-0 in head-to-head matchups between the two. That included two victories in the NCAA tournament, beating VanDerveer in the first round while at Maine in 1999 and then when coaching Michigan State in the 2005 regional finals.

It was far from pretty at times for Stanford, which committed 20 turnovers and struggled finding an offensive flow in the second half.

The Cardinal shot 51.9 percent in the first half on the way to a commanding 39-23 lead, holding Duke to 23.7 percent, including a 1-for-9 showing from 3-point range. The Blue Devils opted not to double All-American Jayne Appel in the paint right away. Appel finished with 10 points and 10 boards, but Stanford was outrebounded 44-39 and gave up 25 offensive boards.

The Cardinal were cheered on by the school's Sun Bowl-bound football team, which packed the stands behind one baseline. Heisman Trophy runner-up Toby Gerhart and his teammates were recognized at halftime.

Christmas' 3-pointer with 7:12 to play cut Stanford's lead to 53-45, then Hones and Pedersen hit consecutive 3s for the Cardinal. Pedersen tipped a rebound to herself and chased the ball down on the way to a fast-break layin with 3:34 remaining and Duke couldn't recover.

"You have to expect every great team is going to make a run," Appel said. "How you counteract it is going to define your season, define the game."

Ogwumike scored six straight points during a 22-2 Stanford run late in the first half, including making two free throws on an intentional foul against Christmas. The run turned Stanford's 15-12 deficit into a 34-17 lead.

At the 4:35 mark, Christmas slammed Ogwumike to the court as she fought for position on offense. Lead official Clarke Stevens came to the scorer's table, spoke to both coaches then reviewed the play and whistled Christmas for an intentional foul. McCallie was furious.

Ogwumike was later elbowed in the face.

In the fourth meeting between these national powerhouses, Stanford avenged a loss nearly one year earlier. On Dec. 16, 2008, the eighth-ranked Blue Devils beat No. 3 Stanford 56-52. The Cardinal committed 23 turnovers that led to 18 points for the Blue Devils.

Like Stanford, Duke also has a demanding preseason schedule. The Blue Devils beat then-No. 3 Ohio State on Dec. 3.

"It's what we do," McCallie said. "It can be joyful and it can be painful."

Stanford's unbeaten start matches the program's 8-0 run to open the 2004-05 season, which ended with a loss at Tennessee. The Cardinal again will play their ninth game against the Lady Vols.

The winning streak at Maples is the fourth-longest in school history for Stanford, which is coming off consecutive Final Four appearances and is picked to capture its 10th straight Pac-10 regular-season crown. The longest unbeaten run is 59 games from Nov. 25, 1994, to March 14, 1998.

"I felt that people really were playing with confidence," VanDerveer said. "They ought to. Jayne and Kayla have been to two Final Fours. They've played this caliber of players."