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BC and Katie Zenevitch (45) couldn’t contain Stanford’s Chiney Ogwumike (30 points).
BC and Katie Zenevitch (45) couldn’t contain Stanford’s Chiney Ogwumike (30 points).Winslow Townson/Associated Press
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In No. 3 Stanford, the Boston College women’s basketball team drew a formidable opponent to open its season. The Cardinal lived up to their preseason billing with an 83-71 win at Conte Forum Saturday afternoon.

It was the teams’ first meeting since Dec. 28, 2005, a BC win at home. Stanford now leads the all-time series, 3-1.

The Eagles, picked to finish 11th in the 15-team ACC in two preseason polls, were able to hang with the Cardinal early in the game. Stanford came out sluggish, enabling BC to take a 5-point lead, its biggest of the game, with 11:29 left in the first half.

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From there, though, Stanford went on a run of 28 straight points, led by preseason All-American Chiney Ogwumike, who had 12 points in that stretch, and Amber Orrange, who had 9. A 3-pointer by BC freshman Emilee Daley with 1:08 left stopped the streak. Stanford took a 20-point lead (44-24) into the locker room.

“It’s interesting,” said second-year BC coach Erik Johnson. “Because I have to compare it to where we were in our first game last year, when the coaching staff was brand new to this team, the team was brand new to us. And it’s remarkable how much farther we are along. I’m so proud of the players.”

BC outscored Stanford, 47-39, in the second half, but the Cardinal lead was too much to overcome.

“We also know that we’re going to play six games, I believe, this year against top-10 competition,” said Johnson. “And having a stretch like we had at the end of that first half, we simply have to make sure that that never happens, because you can’t come back from a 20-point deficit against a team that’s that good and that well-coached. But there were certainly huge pieces of that game where we attacked and we got Stanford back on their heels and we showed that we were able to play with anybody.”

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“First games are almost like the white elephant present at Christmas: You never know what you’re going to get,” said Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer, who is now five wins shy of 900 in her career, a milestone only five other women’s coaches have reached.

Stanford has five freshmen on its roster. Four saw playing time against BC, including starting forward Kailee Johnson.

“Our returners really did very well for us,” VanDerveer said. “And our freshmen were a lot of deer in the headlights. So we need our freshmen to really come up to speed quickly. But I think Boston College and playing here, they made some good runs. We started off very poorly. We made some nice runs, getting out in transitions. We had people really struggling from the free throw line, and we had a lot of free throws but overall I think our team will learn a lot from our first game, and we got to get better fast.”

Ogwumike led all scorers with 30 points on 11-of-12 shooting, while junior point guard Orrange finished with 19 points, 10 assists, and 9 rebounds, just short of Stanford’s first triple-double since Nicole Powell’s on March 18, 2002, against Tulane.

Senior forward Kristen Doherty led BC with 16 points, followed by 15 from senior guard Shayra Brown, who hobbled off the court with just under two minutes left in the game with a foot injury.

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“Shayra gave us a huge lift off the bench,” Johnson said. “It’s great to see her playing with that kind of confidence as a senior. She made our starters better because she came in and showed, ‘Hey, we don’t have to be afraid of these guys. We can just attack them the ways that we attack each other in practice’. I thought that was contagious.

“I really hope that her foot’s OK. She was certainly in some pain but she’s a tough kid. Hopefully, we’ll be able to get her back on the court quickly.”