<
>

Appel, defense help Cardinal down Huskies

SEATTLE -- Never mind Stanford scoring a season-low 58 points Friday night. This was all about the Cardinal's stifling defense.

Jayne Appel scored 18 points and grabbed 13 rebounds and No. 2 Stanford overcame a quiet night from leading-scorer Nnemkadi Ogwumike and rolled past Washington 58-36.

For the second straight game, the Cardinal held an opponent under 40 points. Last week it was a 77-39 win over Southern California where Stanford limited USC to 18 percent shooting. On Friday, the Cardinal limited Washington to 13 percent in the first half and 26 percent for the game.

"We're not like a flashy, pressing, trapping [defense]," Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer said. "We're more of a grit, grind it out playing position defense."

And that defense is working almost perfectly in the last three games. Washington became the third-straight team to shoot under 35 percent against the Cardinal. Jeanette Pohlen scored seven of her 10 points in the opening moments of the second half as the Cardinal never let Washington recover from a season-low 12 points in the first half.

Stanford (22-1, 12-0 Pac-10) cruised to its 13th straight win since its late December loss at top-ranked Connecticut and its 25th consecutive regular-season conference victory.

"This was a game where I had to get around and work harder," Appel said.

Regina Rogers led Washington (9-13, 4-8) with 10 points, but the Huskies made 4 of 31 shots in the first half and found themselves too far behind to seriously challenge in the second half.

Ogwumike, Stanford's sophomore star and the conference's leading scorer at 19 points per game, scored six of the Cardinal's first eight points before going silent for most of the evening. She was hampered by foul trouble and played just seven minutes in the first half.

Ogwumike went more than 25 minutes between baskets, before scoring with 11:40 left in the game. She finished with 12 points, her matching her second-lowest total in conference play this season.

But Stanford didn't need Ogwumike's points on this night, not with Washington's woeful shooting and Appel's inside presence. Despite getting constantly knocked around by a rotation of Washington posts, Appel made 7 of 12 shots and grabbed 12 rebounds in the first half -- most of those coming off Washington misses.

"She's showing everyone why she is an All-American. She's getting it done at both ends of the floor," VanDerveer said of Appel.

Washington gave Stanford one of its toughest conference games this season, hanging around last month into the latter moments of the second half in a 66-51 loss to the Cardinal. It was a massive improvement over a year earlier when Washington suffered a record 112-35 loss at Stanford.

Those hopes were dashed early when Washington simply couldn't make any of its open looks. Holding Stanford to 28 first-half points was an accomplishment, but Washington failed to stay close.

Sami Whitcomb scored half of Washington's first-half points with a pair of 3-pointers -- almost 10 minutes apart. The Huskies failed to make a shot the final eight minutes of the half, their only points coming on a pair of free throws by Mackenzie Argens. Washington missed its final eight shots of the first half.

Nine Washington players attempted shots in the first half. Only two made baskets, with six of the other seven missing two or more shot attempts. Washington finished at 26 percent for the game.

"When we were taking the right shots they were open ... but we weren't doing that enough so we started to force shots," said Whitcomb, the Huskies leading scoring at nearly 15 points who was held to eight on 3 of 12 shooting. "They play good defense but we weren't making that extra pass enough and we weren't taking those shots when they were open."