STANFORD, Calif. -- Tara VanDerveer can't recall a start this poor in more than two decades coaching at Stanford. Thanks to a huge second half, her Cardinal kept several winning streaks intact.
Kayla Pedersen had 23 points and seven rebounds and No. 2 Stanford fought back after trailing at halftime for the first time all season, beating Arizona State 71-48 on Thursday night to extend its home winning streak at Maples Pavilion to 39 games.
"It was not a thing of beauty," VanDerveer said.
Rosalyn Gold-Onwude knocked down three 3-pointers on the way to a career-high 19 points and Jayne Appel added 12 points and 10 rebounds as the Cardinal (18-1, 8-0 Pac-10) won their ninth straight game since losing at top-ranked Connecticut on Dec. 23. They also beat Arizona State for the eighth straight time and 12th in 13 meetings since Jan. 7, 2005. The Sun Devils' last victory in the rivalry was a 62-59 win on Feb. 16, 2006.
"We started as poorly as we have started any game I can honestly remember ever coaching," VanDerveer said. "We were just not understanding what Arizona State was going to do. They came out and were very aggressive. We were totally discombobulated offensively. We just had to make a couple adjustments and run some different things. Obviously the second half was a totally different story."
Tenaya Watson scored all 12 of her points in the first half for Arizona State (12-7, 4-4), which had its four-game winning streak snapped. The Sun Devils had been on a roll after losing three in a row and five of six.
But they haven't had much success at Maples, where Stanford improved to 28-1 all-time against Arizona State. The Sun Devils' lone win here came on March 3, 1984.
After trailing by 14 in the first half, Stanford outscored the Sun Devils 35-5 spanning halftime and held them to one field goal during that stretch. Arizona State missed its first five shots of the second half and frustrated coach Charli Turner Thorne was whistled for a technical with 12:45 remaining.
"Ah, if games were only 20 minutes," Turner Thorne said. "I thought we got that lead and we started playing a little bit soft. ... We got rattled. Our poise is still not where we want it to be being a really young team."
The Cardinal overcame early rebounding trouble for a 40-31 edge on the boards.
Watson scored seven straight during a 10-2 spurt that put the Sun Devils ahead 27-13 with 6:13 left in the first half and Arizona State led 29-25 at halftime with a 22-14 advantage on the boards. But the Cardinal used a 12-2 run to end the half, getting six of those points on free throws.
"The last five minutes of the first half really helped us going into the locker room," Pedersen said. "We did a good job closing the gap."
The Sun Devils couldn't sustain the level of play they exhibited in the first half, when Stanford struggled to get into its offense and regularly faced a man-to-man full-court press. Arizona State shot 5 for 22 over the final 20 minutes.
"Our goal was to set the tone at Maples because we hadn't been doing that post-Christmas," Gold-Onwude said. "It was a moment when everybody collectively looked at each other in the eye, we're down , one stop at a time, one offensive chance at a time. Once you get one play going and one stop going, we had total confidence in our ability to pull off the win."
Stanford sophomore Nnemkadi Ogwumike finished with eight points and seven rebounds after her career-best 30-point, 23-rebound performance in last Saturday's 100-80 road rout of Oregon. She went to the bench with her third foul in the opening minute of the second half Thursday.
Before tipoff, VanDerveer walked to the other bench to greet Thorne, the former Stanford player, with a hug. During Stanford's decades of dominance under 24th-year coach VanDerveer, Arizona State has often been a nemesis for the Cardinal.
This was an important win for Stanford as it kicked off a stretch with four straight conference home games -- believed to be a first for the program. The Cardinal, who have reached back-to-back Final Fours and are picked to win their 10th straight Pac-10 regular-season title, are looking to establish some momentum heading into the final month of the conference schedule.
Stanford endured two scoring droughts of three minutes in the first half and fell behind 17-8 midway through the first half, getting 10 shots to the Sun Devils' 20 early.
Guard Melanie Murphy didn't dress for Stanford because of a sore back. She also has been dealing with further swelling in her troublesome right knee and was limited to only three minutes total in the team's trip last weekend to Oregon State and Oregon.
Stanford has asked fans to wear red for Saturday's game against Arizona to show support for the devastation in Haiti following the 7.0 earthquake that hit the Caribbean nation Jan. 12.