3:30 PM ET, March 7, 2009
Appel, Pohlen lead way as Cardinal clinch title; ASU's Simon's season ends
STANFORD, Calif. -- Although Stanford's postgame celebration was a bit muted by thoughts of its departing seniors and a seriously injured opponent, Jayne Appel and the Cardinal are thrilled to be in their usual perch on top of the Pac-10.Appel scored a season-high 29 points, Jeanette Pohlen added 15 and No. 2 Stanford avoided sharing its ninth straight conference title with Arizona State (No. 18 AP), snapping the Sun Devils' school-record 15-game winning streak with a 77-68 victory on Saturday.A compelling showdown for the league title turned somber when Arizona State lost leading scorer Dymond Simon for the season with a torn left knee ligament midway through the first half. Simon, a junior guard and the Pac-10's fourth-leading scorer with 14.1 points per game, tore the same ligament during her freshman season in January 2007."I'm really sorry to see a player go down," Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer said. "We're just happy to finish out playing a great team and winning the championship and not sharing it. We're generous, but we didn't want to do that."Simon's injury puts a totally different spin on next week's conference tournament in Los Angeles, where Arizona State will be the No. 3 seed after California's simultaneous victory over Arizona across the Bay pushed the ninth-ranked Golden Bears past the Sun Devils. Stanford already clinched the top seed -- for the eighth straight season -- Thursday night."When we were celebrating out on the court, it didn't feel like we were even done," said Appel, who also had 10 rebounds as Stanford wore down the Sun Devils in the second half of its 13th straight win. "We want the conference championship, we want the [Pac-10] tournament, and we want more."Nnemkadi Ogwumike added nine points for the Cardinal (26-4, 17-1), who have won the last five regular-season conference titles outright. Stanford won its 29th straight home game on the shoulders of Appel, the 6-foot-4 center who controlled the paint and went 13-of-20 as the Cardinal outrebounded Arizona State 40-26, overcoming their 16 turnovers."We don't want to share anything with anyone else," said senior Jillian Harmon, who had seven points and 10 rebounds in her final home game. "More importantly, we want to be playing well heading into the tournament."Briann January scored 19 points and Danielle Orsillo added 12 to lead Arizona State (23-7, 15-3), which hasn't won at Maples Pavilion since 1984.Simon was injured with about 9½ minutes left in the first half when she drove the lane and then attempted to pass around Lindy La Rocque and Appel. While La Rocque stole the pass, Simon landed awkwardly on her left leg and crumpled to the court.Simon stayed down for several moments and eventually was carried off the court to a standing ovation."We're just completely devastated," Arizona State coach Charli Turner Thorne said. "It's not even about the winning and losing. The kid has already been through this. To do it this late, and when it affects her for next season, you just feel so bad about it."Appel scored 10 of Stanford's first 17 points, and the Cardinal took an early 10-point lead with both teams playing at a surprisingly aggressive pace. Stanford then took charge with a 14-2 run in the second half, repeatedly exploiting Arizona State's slow feet on defense."We did not defend the way we were supposed to defend today at all," Thorne said. "We did not want to be standing behind [Appel]. We were kind of out of it even before Tiny went down. We were really just not as connected and together as we wanted to be. When [the injury] happened, it was kind of hard to get them back."Appel's relentless post-up game either resulted in layups or open jumpers for her teammates, and Appel's three-point play put the Cardinal up 61-45 with 10:21 left. She finished four points shy of her career high, set last season.Arizona State got within six points in the final minute, but no closer. Orsillo and Kate Engelbrecht got increased responsibilities in Simon's absence, but the Sun Devils will be hard-pressed to replicate Simon's speed, playmaking and reckless drives to the basket."We can regroup. We have a very talented team, and we have a lot of depth," Thorne said. "This is why you have depth, and this is why I play a lot of people, for these very situations. I think we might have to redefine ourselves a little bit offensively, because Dymond was our leading scorer, and we ran everything through her."
Team Stat Comparison
|FG Made-Attempted||25-58 (.431)||32-64 (.500)|
|3P Made-Attempted||7-17 (.412)||3-9 (.333)|
|FT Made-Attempted||11-15 (.733)||10-15 (.667)|
|Fouls (Tech/Flagrant)||16 (0/0)||15 (0/0)|