STANFORD, Calif. (AP) — With time winding down Saturday night and No. 5 Stanford leading Washington State by double-digits, the only drama was whether senior Chiney Ogwumike would set a new career high for scoring in her final regular-season game.
Ogwumike scored from close range with 2:17 left, giving her 37 points, one more than her previous high. Then she left the game to a thunderous ovation from her fans and family and enjoyed the rest of Stanford’s 84-64 win from the bench.
“Honestly, this sounds horrible, but I don’t care about scoring, career highs or whatever,” Ogwumike said. “I just care about doing enough to get a win. I always say, if I score two points and we win, I’m perfectly fine. I just do what I have to do to win as a team.”.
All Ogwumike did Saturday was make 14 of 23 shots from the field, go 9 for 10 from the line and grab 13 rebounds.
“In my opinion, she’s the National Player of the Year,” Washington State coach June Daugherty said. “And the reason is, she does more for her team than anybody else in the country. You take her 30 points away or even her average of 25 a game away, I’m not sure Stanford’s record is anywhere close to where it is right now. She’s just so explosive and quick that you try to play her for the drive. At the beginning of the game she was just rip squaring and going by us so quick. It’s really tough to even help in those situations.”.
Ogwumike set her previous high against Cal Poly this season and matched against Washington State on Jan. 11 in a 77-69 victory. Ogwumike increased her career scoring total to 2,580 points, leaving her 50 shy of breaking ex-Stanford star Candice Wiggins’ Pac-12 record of 2,629. She already broke the Pac-12 career rebounding mark this season and now has 1,482.
Stanford (28-2, 17-1 Pac-12) improved to 57-0 in the series against Washington State (15-15, 9-9 Pac-12).
Amber Orrange scored 20 points for Stanford, making 7 of 9 shots from the field and grabbing eight rebounds. Bonnie Samuelson added 10 points for the Cardinal.
“I think I was just being more aggressive, just playing as hard as I could,” Orrange said.
Lia Galdeira led the Cougars with 16 points and Tia Presley and Sage Romberg scored 10 apiece.
Stanford last week clinched the Pac-12’s regular-season title and the No. 1 seed in the upcoming conference tournament at Seattle. The Cardinal earned a first-round bye and will open play Friday. Stanford hosts an NCAA tournament regional later this month, so there’s a chance that Ogwumike will play again on her home court.
After the game, Ogwumike took part in a Senior Night celebration, along with her parents and three sisters, including Nnemkadi, a former Stanford star and the WNBA’s No. 1 draft pick in 2012.
“Honestly, I don’t like to get too sentimental,” Ogwumike said. “L was just trying to soak it all in. To be in that atmosphere, we have so many wonderful fans at Stanford that stay to the end of the game all the time, cheering us on. It’s like a family environment, so walking out with my family then walking out with my Stanford family, which is our fans, our coaches and teammates, you have so many people that have your back, and you want that kind of confidence at this time of the year.”.
Washington fell into sole possession of seventh place in the Pac-12 and will meet Oregon on Thursday in a first-round game with the winner advancing to play No. 18 California.
“I thought we fought hard the whole game,” Romberg said. “Chiney is really active all the time, and she’s a really good player. It’s always tough when we have to play against her, and it was her Senior Night. She was playing really hard out there, but we kept fighting, which was important.”.
Ogwumike nearly had a double-double by halftime, scoring 21 points and grabbing nine rebounds, as Stanford built a 49-41 lead.
Ogwumike shot 7 of 13 from the field and 7 of 8 from the line in the first half, dominating the Cougars inside.
Orrange scored 10 first-half points for Stanford, while Samuelson and Briana Roberson each had eight.
Galdeira countered with 11 first-half points for Washington State. Reserve Mariah Cooks scored eight and Presley added five.
Ogwumike needed less than 12 minutes to score 15 points, lifting Stanford to a 35-23 lead with 8:11 left in the first half. She pushed Stanford’s lead to 40-25 with a turnaround bank shot from the low block, but WSU answered with an 8-4 run, cutting the lead to 44-35 with 4:07 left.
Stanford opened the second half with a 10-0 run, building a 59-41 lead.