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Stanford drops DePaul en route to 33rd straight home win

STANFORD, Calif. -- Stanford easily handled the first tough task on its list. Next up is Duke (No. 10 ESPN/USA Today, No. 7 AP), then Tennessee (No. 3 ESPN/USA Today, No. 4 AP) followed by a date with No. 1 Connecticut in Hartford on Dec. 23.

Whew, what a load.

"I've never played a stretch of games like these games," Cardinal senior Rosalyn Gold-Onwude said. "I like the way [coach] Tara [VanDerveer] puts it. She says it's like the tournament in December. I think it's really fitting, like the Sweet Sixteen."

Nnemkadi Ogwumike scored 24 points, Jeanette Pohlen added 17 and No. 2 Stanford showed no signs of rust following a two-week layoff for final exams, beating DePaul 96-60 on Sunday for its 33rd straight home win.

Jayne Appel added 15 points, seven rebounds and five assists for the Cardinal (7-0), who used a 19-0 run spanning halftime to turn the game into a rout in the first meeting between the schools.

Appel grabbed her 1,000th rebound 1:27 into the game. The reigning Pac-10 Player of the Year ranks third on the school's all-time list and became the third player in program history to pull down 1,000 rebounds, joining Nicole Powell (1,143) and Val Whiting (1,134).

"I think it's cool but I'd rather win a national championship," Appel said.

The game kicked off the challenging three-game stretch this week for Stanford at Maples Pavilion, where the Cardinal will host Duke on Tuesday night and Tennessee on Saturday. After that comes the showdown with UConn, largely considered the biggest game of the regular season.

"The upcoming three games are going to be so huge," Gold-Onwude said. "We talked about what it would take to beat them, coming out and establishing our home court."

Stanford, playing for the first time since a 105-74 victory over Gonzaga on Nov. 29, is off to its best start since beginning the 2004-05 season with eight straight victories.

Kayla Pedersen, the Pac-10's leading scorer at 20.5 points per game, had 11 points but the Cardinal had plenty of punch on offense from others. Gold-Onwude had 12 points, five rebounds and four assists. Stanford held a 44-33 rebounding advantage and shot 59.3 percent, making 15 of its first 18 field goal tries of the second half.

"It was a good start for our big swing," said VanDerveer, who has called this the toughest early season schedule in her 24 years at Stanford. "We know what we need to do with each opponent. We're trying to be the best Stanford we can be."

Anna Martin was held to six points for the Blue Demons (7-3), who began a tough five-game trip that ends with their Big East opener at Rutgers on Jan. 2. Martin had scored in double figures in her previous four starts this season.

DePaul, most recently ranked 21st, fell out of the Top 25 with a 79-68 loss at Wis.-Green Bay on Dec. 2.

Keisha Hampton scored 19 and Sam Quigley had 10 points and five assists to lead the Blue Demons, who played their fifth game since losing leading scorer Deirdre Naughton for the season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in her right knee. DePaul is 6-11 all-time against the Pac-10, but this marked the school's first appearance against the conference since an 86-82 loss to Oregon in 1999.

The big run did in DePaul.

"It happened so fast," Hampton said. "If we would have made stops it would have made the game a lot better."

After Hampton opened the game with a 3-pointer, Stanford answered with an 11-0 run and the Blue Demons missed their next six shots before Hampton's layin at 15:41.

"They outplayed us defensively, offensively," DePaul coach Doug Bruno said. "They were more physical and more intelligent than we were. We didn't give them the competition I expected to give them as they're getting ready for their biggest preseason week of the season. They're going to be a tough matchup for Duke, a tough matchup for Tennessee and a tough matchup for UConn. They're special players."

Pohlen scored eight straight points with consecutive 3s during one stretch late in the first half as the Cardinal closed with a 16-5 run -- 9-0 over the final 2:24 -- for a 45-25 halftime lead.

Michelle Harrison was held out of the game for Stanford after sustaining a concussion during Thursday's practice when she took an elbow to the head from Appel. VanDerveer said she expects Harrison to be cleared to play Monday, meaning she could be available Tuesday night.

Stanford freshman Joslyn Tinkle was in uniform after missing four games with a stress reaction in her left foot. VanDerveer hopes to have guard Melanie Murphy back from a knee injury in another week.