STANFORD (CBS/AP) — Tara VanDerveer had one simple message for her players before facing Tennessee: “If we rebound, we win.”
Chiney Ogwumike and Co. delivered in that department, and on offense, too.
Amber Orrange scored on a left-handed layin and was fouled with 25.8 seconds left and converted the free throw, helping seal No. 6 Stanford’s 76-70 victory against third-ranked Tennessee on Saturday that handed the Lady Vols their first loss.
Ogwumike had 32 points, a season-best 20 rebounds – 11 on the offensive end – and three blocks as Stanford held off a late Tennessee rally.
“This game really boiled down to we had Chiney,” VanDerveer said. “Chiney had a monster game. She’s a warrior for us. She doesn’t have as much help around her as (big sister) Nneka did.”
Yet Ogwumike’s supporting cast is making noticeable strides as the Pac-12 Conference season approaches.
Freshman Lili Thompson’s pullup 12-footer with 8:09 to play put Stanford ahead 63-51 and she finished with a season-best 14 points.
Taylor Greenfield hit a trio of 3-pointers in the first half on the way to 11 points off the bench.
While Ogwumike did her part with a fourth 30-point game of the season, she had plenty of support on both ends with teammates crashing the boards and hustling for loose balls – just the kind of balance and energy VanDerveer has been calling for from her young team.
“We were playing some very young players,” VanDerveer said. “I thought they did a really good job, handled the ball and worked hard.”
Andraya Carter’s baseline 3-pointer with 1:02 remaining cut the Cardinal’s lead to 70-68 but Stanford kept possession with 36 seconds to go on a jump ball in a big break, and Orrange came through.
Stanford (10-1) has its first three-game winning streak in the rivalry between perennial national powers.
Ariel Massengale scored 17 points and Meighan Simmons 15 to lead the Lady Vols (10-1), who were hurt 35.8 percent shooting.
Tennessee has lost its last four matchups at Maples Pavilion since its last win on Stanford’s home floor on Dec. 4, 2005. The Lady Vols have lost 13 straight road games against Top 10 teams dating back to 2008.
Ogwumike had 18 points and 11 rebounds by halftime and shot 15 for 25 overall for outsized Stanford, which needed a big second half to hold on for its ninth straight victory.
“I have a great support system,” she said. “It’s just being aggressive. It’s those little things.”
After Bashaara Graves scored to cut the Cardinal’s lead to 38-33 with 18:10 remaining, Orrange and Thompson hit consecutive 3-pointers for Stanford.
But Massengale then scored five straight points to keep Tennessee close.
“Like coach tells us, they’re a great team and a great team is going to make a run,” Thompson said.
Ogwumike drove the lane for easy layins, converted athletic putbacks or plain out-jumped Tennessee to catch high lob passes into the paint before pivoting around to score.
“Everything I tried to do, I tried to box her out, it just didn’t work,” Graves said. “There’s no way she should have had that many offensive rebounds.”
The Cardinal held a 24-19 rebounding advantage in the first half and wound up with a 43-40 edge on the boards – the first time all season Tennessee has lost in rebounding. The Lady Vols had a 52.1 to 36.3 mismatch on the boards entering the game.
The Cardinal haven’t lost since a 76-57 defeat at No. 1 Connecticut on Nov. 11. Stanford made seven of its initial 10 shots but overcame 37.5-percent shooting in the second half. Stanford has won five of the last eighth meetings and four of five.
Tennessee, facing just its second ranked team of the season, missed a chance for its first win over a top-10 opponent since beating No. 10 Georgia in the Lady Vols’ SEC home opener last Jan. 6.
Stanford snapped Tennessee’s five-game winning streak here last Nov. 20, 2012, 97-80 loss for the fifth-most points allowed in program history.
This one was plenty impressive, too.
Tennessee began the game 6 for 23 and never recovered despite making things interesting down the stretch with Simmons taking charge.
“I thought we got good looks,” coach Holly Warlick said. “You’ve got to make free throws, layups and free throws. If you don’t make those you’re not going to win games. At crucial times we didn’t make free throws, and at crucial times we gave up the 3-point shot. Little things for us got magnified today.”
After Tennessee jumped to a quick 4-0 lead, Stanford then scored 13 unanswered points for a 13-4 lead that forced a Lady Vols timeout at the 14:54 mark of the opening half. Tennessee missed seven straight shots over a nearly 3 1/2-minute stretch.
Ogwumike passed Jeanne Ruark Hoff to move into seventh place on Stanford’s career scoring list (2,059).