Less than a minute into the second half of Stanford’s women’s basketball game at UC Davis on Friday, Chiney Ogwumike had 23 points and the entire Davis team had 19.
It wasn’t until Heidi Johnson made a free throw with 13:47 left in the game that the Aggies had finally outscored Ogwumike.
No. 1 Stanford ultimately won the game 87-38 to improve to 7-0, as Ogwumike finished with a career-high 27 points to go along with 13 rebounds and three blocks in 31 minutes of action.
More than anything, the performance was an example of how Ogwumike has expanded her game, much like her sister Nneka did in her years at Stanford. Strictly an inside player her first two seasons at Stanford, Chiney can do damage from the outside now.
“Chiney just does whatever we need her to do,” coach Tara VanDerveer told reporters afterward. “She’s an All-American player for a reason, because she plays like one every night. She’s got a beautiful perimeter shot, which she didn’t have when she came in as a freshman.”
That easy win over Davis (2-3) was a mere warmup for what figures to be a challenging road game against Gonzaga at 2 p.m. on Sunday at the Zags’ sold-out 6,000-seat McCarthey Center. Gonzaga, whose only loss is to No. 7 Louisville in Mexico, has not played since Thanksgiving Day, and it is gunning for Stanford.
“That is the team we’re chasing,” Gonzaga coach Kelly Graves said on the Gonzaga website, “and someday I hope we can catch them. It’s a great opportunity, not necessarily because they’re the No. 1 team, but because it’s Stanford and they are the standard by which everybody in the West is judged.”
The Cardinal will need to hit its outside shots against the Zags, and with that in mind, Toni Kokenis’ performance on Friday may have been just as important as Ogwumike’s. Kokenis was 3-for-3 on three-point shots while scoring 11 points. Kokenis had been just 1-for-7 on three-pointers this season before Friday, and the Cardinal needs her outside threat.
Taylor Greenfield hit 2 of her 4 three-point attempts to improve her three-point percentage to a team-leading 44 percent, although Joslyn Tinkle missed all four of her shots from beyond the arc while being held under double digits for the first time this season, scoring eight points.
Amber Orrange had seven assists to improve her season average to 6.3 assists, although she also had a season-high six turnovers. She can’t afford to give the ball away that often against Gonzaga’s scrappy defense.