CINCINNATI -- After years of being able to get the ball to Amber Harris and let her take over the game, Xavier learned what it's like to be on the other end of a front-line mismatch.
Stanford (No. 5 ESPN/USA Today, No. 3 AP) blew open a close game in the second half Friday by getting the ball inside to Nnemkadi Ogwumike, who scored a season-high 34 points and led the way to an 80-64 victory.The Cardinal (4-1) shook off a 10-point loss at No. 2 Connecticut on Monday and a slow first half against Xavier (1-3), which did a good job clamping down on the perimeter. The Musketeers couldn't handle Ogwumike once she got going."Nneka is a phenomenal basketball player," first-year Xavier coach Amy Waugh said. "She's an All-American who just plays so hard on every possession. We tried to limit her around the basket as much as we can, dare her to shoot some jump shots. She's just very relentless and continued to go at us."The focus at the start of the second half was Ogwumike, who made bank shots, hit a fadeaway jumper and had putbacks during a 19-5 run that put the Cardinal in control. She scored 11 of Stanford's 15 points in the half and finished with a game-high 13 rebounds.Lynette Holmes led Xavier with 18 points.The schools have played in each of the last three seasons, with Stanford winning all three. The series started with a memorable moment for both programs -- Jeanette Pohlen's layup at the buzzer giving Stanford a 55-53 win in the NCAA tournament regional finals in 2010.Last season, the Musketeers visited Stanford with Harris recovering from a concussion. Harris opened the game on the bench, and Stanford ran away to a 37-point win.Xavier lost five of its top six players off last season's top 10 team and is retooling under Waugh. The Musketeers were coming off back-to-back losses at Mississippi State and Louisville, and were determined to give a better showing against the Cardinal.The Musketeers were held to just 12 first-half points last Sunday during a 62-44 loss at Louisville (No. 12 ESPN/USA Today, No. 11 AP). They trailed only 33-32 at halftime against Stanford."I love how my team played," Waugh said. "That's what we need to do every day, but it's a long process. The step that we made from Louisville to Stanford is immense."Xavier kept close for a half by driving into the heart of Stanford's defense and drawing fouls. The Musketeers made all of their 11 free throws in the first half, with Holmes going 7 for 7."The whole game, we played hard," Holmes said. "We had some ups and downs, which every team will. It showed us that the Louisville game we had wasn't who we were, wasn't going to dictate who we're going to be. You can see with this game, we're learning and we're trying to get all our pieces to come together and we're growing."