Stanford outlasts Colorado 69-54 in Pac-12 tourney
By TIM BOOTH AP Sports Writer
SEATTLE (AP) -- Chiney Ogwumike is so dominant around the basket with her scoring and rebounding that it's a surprise to ever see the Stanford star taking a shot outside the key.
Especially a 3-pointer.
"If they're going to take away the inside I'm going to have to diversify my game," Ogwumike said.
The Pac-12 player of the year scored 13 of her 19 points in the second half, including the rare 3 that gave Stanford the lead for good, and the fourth-ranked Cardinal overcame their worst scoring first half of the season to knock off pesky Colorado 69-54 in the quarterfinals of the Pac-12 Conference tournament Friday.
Ogwumike's 3-pointer gave Stanford the lead for good at 30-28. It was part of a 16-2 run by the Cardinal to take control after they were held to a season-low 21 points in the first half.
Stanford (29-2) will face either No. 5 seed USC or fourth-seeded Arizona State in the semifinals Saturday night. Stanford has won seven straight conference tourney titles.
"At this point with your conference teams, they've scouted you. They've played against you for three or four years twice a year," Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer said. "So I think that this is the best preparation for the NCAA Tournament. They're going to make you do things that maybe aren't comfortable. They put you out of your comfort zone a little bit. I think that Colorado did that a little bit to us."
Stanford outscored Colorado 48-31 in the second half, starting to knock down perimeter shots. Lili Thompson finished with 16 points and Bonnie Samuelson added 15.
Brittany Wilson led Colorado (17-14) with 16 points. Haley Smith was the only other Colorado player in double figures with 10. After using the 3-pointer to hang around in the first half, the Buffaloes made just 2 of 10 in the final 20 minutes.
"Playing Stanford is not a sprint, it's a marathon. There are a lot of teams that have been ahead of them at the half this year, and really ahead of them middle of the way in the second half," Colorado coach Linda Lappe said. "I thought we lost our focus to start the second half. We talked about that at halftime making sure that we were going to put two halves together and play well. You have to play well for 40 minutes to beat Stanford."
Ogwumike, who had attempted only nine 3-pointers all season and made two, knocked down her only attempt to put Stanford in front. Thompson then scored the next eight points for the Cardinal, including a fallaway while being fouled. The three-point play gave the Cardinal a 38-30 lead with 15:12 remaining.
"It was absolutely not designed," Ogwumike said. "But Coach Tara always tells me, throughout the years she's said, `Chiney don't let your shot be an (afterthought)."
Samuelson added a 3 that touched every part of the rim, and the Cardinal led by 11, nearly matching their entire first-half scoring output in the opening 5 1/2 minutes of the second. The Cardinal lead reached 19 before a late Colorado run.
Colorado did its best to deny Ogwumike open looks on the inside and also did a good job in the first half of not letting her dominate the offensive boards. Ogwumike was 2 of 6 shooting and had just one offensive rebound. Meanwhile, none of the Cardinal outside shooters could get going to open up space for her.
Samuelson was 1 of 6 shooting and missed all four 3-point attempts. Stanford was 1 of 10 from behind the 3-point line in the first half and shot 24 percent overall. Stanford trailed at halftime for the fifth time this season.
"I thought we struggled in the first half. We missed open shots," VanDerveer said. "But we made those shots in the second half."