Ogwumike leads No. 2 Stanford past Cal 79-58Jan 2, 2010 - 11:04 PM By JOSH DUBOW AP Sports Writer
STANFORD, Calif.(AP) -- Even when Stanford missed shot after shot from right underneath the basket, the Cardinal held a lead over California.
When those started falling, No. 2 Stanford turned this Bay Area rivalry into a mismatch.
Nnemkadi Ogwumike had 24 points and a career-high 16 rebounds and the Cardinal opened the Pac-10 season with a dominating 79-58 victory over the Golden Bears on Saturday.
Stanford missed 21 of its first 25 shots, missing 14 straight at one point. But the Cardinal still led by four points at that juncture.
"In the first half we weren't hitting layups and were really lethargic and slow," Ogwumike said. "We stayed together and we just made sure what was going on didn't mess up our composure. Coach told us at halftime she didn't see enthusiasm, We picked that up in the second half and that got us going and we stretched things out."
Kayla Pedersen added 16 points and 10 rebounds and Jayne Appel scored 13 despite shooting just 5 for 16 for the Cardinal (11-1, 1-0 Pac-10), who beat the Bears (6-6, 0-1) for the 34th time in the past 37 meetings. Stanford has won 36 straight games at Maples Pavilion.
Melanie Murphy matched her career high with 11 points in her second game back from a knee injury, giving Stanford another playmaker at guard.
"I really liked how she pushed the ball and for the most part made good decisions," coach Tara VanDerveer said. "We need guard play where people can break down the defense from the point of attack and then make good decisions. I was really excited to see how well she did."
This was only the second time these Bay Area rivals opened the Pac-10 season against each other. But this meeting lacked the buildup to those in recent seasons when Cal was challenging Stanford for conference superiority. The Bears won at Maples Pavilion in 2007 and at home last season but fell short in the Pac-10 race each season.
With Ashley Walker and Devanei Hampton gone and Cal starting four freshmen, the first meeting between the teams this season was mostly a mismatch.
"We want to make something happen now," said freshman Layshia Clarendon, who led Cal with 13 points. "We're trying not to make the young thing an excuse now."
"It's a tough game to start off the Pac-10," coach Joanne Boyle said. "But it showed us a lot of things we need to work on and get better at as we move forward in the season."
Stanford controlled the inside against the inexperienced Bears and pulled away in the second half for the easy victory.
The Cardinal's first 22 points of the second half were scored by the talented frontcourt crew of Ogwumike, Appel and Pedersen. Pedersen's fast break basket off a pass from JJ Hones capped a 10-0 run and gave Stanford a 55-33 lead with about 11:30 to go.
DeNesha Stallworth scored 12 points and Natasha Vital had 11 for Cal. The Bears made 36 percent of their shots and turned the ball over 19 times. They trailed by at least 10 points for the final 24 minutes of the game and lost for the fourth time in six games.
"We have to find a way to score," coach Joanne Boyle said. "Layshia's been our leading scorer and rebounder the last four games. We have to find scoring from other people. ... I thought we got great looks but we weren't finishing."
Stanford received a scare early in the second half when starting guard Jeanette Pohlen limped off the court and into the locker room. She returned a few minutes later after getting her right ankle taped.
After making their first two shots of the game, the Cardinal missed 14 straight as they could not convert numerous chances in close after offensive rebounds. Even the normally reliable Appel missed a wide-open layup in transition for Stanford.
"I think in the second half we really focused on finishing better," Pedersen said. "We stuck with it."
But despite the cold shooting, Stanford led almost the entire half because Cal was even worse offensively with 11 first-half turnovers. The Cardinal went on a 14-2 run to build an early 10-point lead. Then with Ogwumike getting open for some easy shots late in the half and converting them, Stanford managed to build the lead to 15 points late in the half.
But Lauren Greif and Alexis-Gray Lawson hit 3-pointers in the closing minute to help Cal close the gap to 35-24 at halftime. Gray-Lawson's 3 just before the buzzer provided her only points of the half and made her the ninth Cal player to reach 1,500 points in a career.
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