PULLMAN — Washington State was sniffing its first victory ever against No. 3 Stanford in women’s basketball — and Chiney Ogwumike was having none of it.
The Stanford star had 36 points and 17 rebounds and the Cardinal beat Washington State 77-69 on Friday night to improve to 56-0 against the Cougars.
The game was tied with less than 6 minutes left, and this was a close contest in the lop-sided series that began in 1983.
“I think if we had played better defensively, it would have been a different game,” Ogwumike said. “But they were scoring left, right and center.”
Taylor Greenfield and Amber Orrange scored 11 points each for the Cardinal. Stanford (22-1, 11-0 Pac-12) has won 21 straight games since losing to No. 1 Connecticut.
Lia Galdeira had 21 points and Tia Presley 20 for Washington State (12-11, 6-5). The Cougars have lost five of their past six games after a 5-0 start to conference play.
“We managed a win but it wasn’t our best,” Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer said. “We can get better.”
The 6-foot-4 Ogwumike made 15 of 22 shots and scored 24 of her points in the decisive second half. She played all 40 minutes.
“She took over the game in the second half,” Washington State coach June Daugherty said. “She is in my opinion the player of the year.”
Not that the Cougars laid down. They shot 56.7 percent in the second half and kept it close most of the way.
But Stanford had a 46-30 rebound advantage. And the Cougars managed to hit just 10 of 20 from the free-throw line.
“We spread the floor and were more aggressive getting to the basket,” Ogwumike said about the second half.
Ogwumike scored eight quick points as Stanford jumped to a 17-8 lead. With Stanford leading 26-16 late in the first, Washington State went on an 8-0 run. Presley’s layup cut Stanford’s lead to 26-24.
Ogwumike sank a short jumper at the buzzer to give Stanford a 28-24 lead at halftime.
Washington State kept it close despite shooting just 28 percent (9 of 32) in the first half, while Stanford made 13 of 30 for 43 percent.
“We were rushing a bit in the first half,” Daugherty said. “We got a lot of open looks.”
Ogwumike made four quick baskets in the opening minutes of the second half, as Stanford took a 38-33 lead.
Washington State tried to deny her the ball, but Stanford excels at lobbing it inside, Daugherty said
Galdeira sank a couple of baskets to bring Washington State to 43-41, but Karlie Samuelson replied with a 3-pointer for Stanford. Ogwumike added a layup and two free throws as Stanford built a 50-41 lead.
Galdeira scored eight points as Washington State cut Stanford’s lead to 54-52. Dawnyelle Awa’s 3-pointer gave Washington State its first lead at 55-54.
Stanford scored the next seven points for a 61-55 lead.
But Presley and Sage Romberg hit consecutive 3-pointers as the Cougars tied it at 61 with 5:25 left.
Ogwumike sank a pair of baskets during an 11-4 run that put Stanford ahead 72-65 with 2:26 left.
Washington State could not make up the ground and had to foul.
“It wasn’t different from what we expected,” VanDerveer said of the game.
She praised Cougars guards Presley and Galdeira as “terrific.”
“They attacked real well,” she said.
As for Ogwumike, VanDerveer was effusive.
“She is a competitor and she puts the team on her back,” VanDerveer said. “Chiney is so awesome.”
“But some of the others were not on their game,” she said. “We have to evaluate where we are as a team.”
Ogwumike, the Pac-12 scoring leader, had her 18th double-double of the season
Washington State, enjoying its best season in more than a decade, has never beaten a team ranked in the top five.