No. 2 Stanford Tops No. 18 Arizona State
March 7, 2009
STANFORD, Calif. (AP) - Jayne Appel scored a season-high 29 points, Jeanette Pohlen added 15 and No. 2 Stanford avoided sharing its ninth straight Pac-10 Conference title with Arizona State, snapping the 18th-ranked Sun Devils' 15-game winning streak with a 77-68 victory on Saturday.
Arizona State also 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.
Nnemkadi Ogwumike added nine points for the Cardinal (26-4, 17-1), who have won the last five regular-season conference titles outright. Stanford pulled away in the second half of its 13th straight win.
Briann January had 19 points to lead Arizona State (23-7, 15-3), which hasn't won at Maples Pavilion since 1984.
The Sun Devils' loss and California's simultaneous victory over Arizona across the Bay pushed the ninth-ranked Golden Bears into the No. 2 seed in next week's conference tournament, which has a totally different look with Simon out of action. Stanford clinched the top seed - for the eighth straight season - and a share of the Pac-10 title Thursday night with a closer-than-expected win over Arizona.
Stanford won its 29th straight home game on the shoulders of Appel, the 6-foot-4 center who controlled the paint with 10 rebounds and 13-of-20 shooting. The Cardinal outrebounded Arizona State 40-26, overcoming their 16 turnovers.
Simon was injured with about 9 1/2 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 exploting Arizona State's slow feet on defense.
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.