No. 2 Cardinal Start Off with Win
Nov. 14, 2008
STANFORD, Calif. (AP) -Tara VanDerveer appreciated this kind of physical test for her Stanford team to start the season. She knows opponents will be coming hard at the Cardinal from now through March.
Jayne Appel had 14 points, nine rebounds and five blocks and No. 2 Stanford earned a hard-fought 68-55 victory over Minnesota in the season opener for both teams Friday night.
'That's great for our team. That we didn't back down is a great statement,' VanDerveer said. 'That's how it's going to be in the NCAA tournament, in the Pac-10 tournament.'
Kayla Pedersen, last season's Pac-10 Freshman of the Year, had 14 points and 12 rebounds and Nnemkadi Ogwumike added 11 points in an impressive collegiate debut for the Cardinal. It was far from a stress-free opener for Stanford, coming off its NCAA runner-up finish to Tennessee last season.
The Cardinal missed their first seven 3-point tries before Rosalyn Gold-Onwude hit with 9:33 left. She made another key 3 from the baseline with 2:03 to play.
'It was a battle the whole night - inside, outside, running down the court,' Appel said. 'We were getting hit every time, hitting them every time. It showed part of our team colors that we toughed it out and came out with the win.'
Katie Ohm scored 15 points and Zoe Harper 12 for Minnesota, picked by the Big Ten coaches and media to finish near the middle of the pack in the conference.
'We know we're a good team and we know we can play with Stanford,' Ohm said. 'We came in with our goal that we knew we could play with them and take it at them.'
The pesky Golden Gophers opened against a nationally ranked opponent for the first time, playing on an opponent's home floor to start the season for the first time since 1996.
Ohm's 3-pointer with 16:27 to play cut the Cardinal's lead to 33-26, then she hit another from long range at 13:28 to get her team within six at 38-32.
Minnesota plays an aggressive, physical style that made things difficult for Stanford.
'This was a great first game for both of us to play a quality team,' Golden Gophers coach Pam Borton said. 'They made a lot of big plays down the stretch. Obviously Appel inside is a handful.'
Starting Stanford guard JJ Hones has a stress reaction in her right foot and is wearing a walking boot to protect the injury. She will be held out of Sunday's game at Baylor and could miss up to four weeks.
'She had it before and nipped it in the bud,' VanDerveer said before tip-off. 'She worked hard this summer and was running a lot. She's got to get it better.'
Sophomore Jeanette Pohlen earned her first career start as the Cardinal ushered in a new era without All-American Candice Wiggins, who won WNBA Sixth Woman of the Year honors following her rookie season with the Minnesota Lynx. A decked-out Wiggins made an appearance at Maples Pavilion and sat courtside.
She received a rousing standing ovation during a first-half timeout and waved to the crowd in appreciation, then signed autographs and posed for pictures at halftime and after the game.
Even minus three-time Pac-10 Player of the Year Wiggins, VanDerveer has one of her deepest teams ever after Stanford won 35 games last season and reached its first Final Four since 1997.
In fact, VanDerveer went with a lineup featuring five 6-footers on the floor for nearly three minutes early in the first half - including the highly touted freshman, Ogwumike. After entering the game at the 16:53 mark, Ogwumike scored on her first trip down on offense then again off a steal less than a minute later.