As March Madness ramps up, it’s time to look at some of the stars of the women’s game. When it comes to sister acts, they don’t come any more impressive than Nnemkadi (Nneka) and Chiney Ogwumike who play basketball for the Stanford Cardinal (@StanfordWBB).
Pam and Paula McGee played for USC in the ’80s, Heidi and Heather Burge for Virginia in the ’90s and, more recently, Courtney and Ashley Paris for Oklahoma but none of those pairs were as formidable as the Ogwumikes.
Last night, the sisters were key to Stanford winning the Pac-12 Tournament title game. The Cardinal defeated their cross-bay rival California, 77-62 in a highly anticipated match-up. Senior forward Nneka posted 29 points while sophomore forward Chiney had 17; each of them had 12 rebounds as well.
The Cardinal (named for the color, not the bird) captured their ninth tournament title and extended their school-record win streak to 28 games. California, which was the only team to take Stanford to overtime during the regular season, never gave up but there were simply too many dominate Ogwumikes to overcome.
The Ogwumikes, who are first generation Nigerian-Americans raised inTexas, can’t always articulate their connection but each always seems to know where the other is. Obviously, they would be incredible players even if playing on separate teams. But together, they’re better than the sum of two parts.
Although Stanford hasn’t won a NCAA title in 20 years, in a classic case of always the bridesmaid, never the bride, the team has made multiple championship appearances including the last four years in a row.
Will this be the year, Nneka’s last as a Cardinal, that the team will prevail? Will Chiney help send her sister out on top? There are a lot of Card fans hoping that will be the case.
Together, the Ogwumikes have helped lead Stanford to a season 28-1 overall record, No. 2 national ranking and a 12th straight Pac-12 title, the program’s 21st overall. The Cardinal, currently on a 25-game winning streak, also went undefeated at Maples Pavilion for the fifth straight year to extend its nation’s-best home winning streak to 79 games. Stanford went 18-0 in Pac-12 play for the third straight year, increasing its winning streak against conference competition to 75 games.
Earlier this week, both Nneka and Chiney Ogwumike were named among 15 finalists for the John R. Wooden Award.
Stats aside (because frankly their combined stats would take up the bulk of this post) what makes these sisters so phenomenal is not only their incredible talent, but their incredible personalities.
And the fact that neither Ogwumike takes themselves TOO seriously. Need proof? As a follow up on the 2011 smash hit “I Got Bounce,” Nneka and Chiney front the latest release from [Coach Tara] Vanderveer Records and the Cardinal Channel.
These girls know how to play ball and have a good time.
Stanford and the Ogwumikes will head to the NCAA tournament next weekend as a top seed, hoping to get their hands on the national title. The brackets will be released tomorrow, so the Card does not know yet who they will playing. However, Cal will almost certainly be given a bid, so it’s not impossible that the rivals could meet one final time this year.
Looking forward to all the March Madness and wishing both Ogwumikes good luck in the championships!
For more about Chiney – including which sister she thinks is a better dancer, check out this video. And watch out – there are two more sisters, Olivia and Erica, coming up behind them.