Stanford Opens 2002-03 Season With Win Over Rutgers

Nov. 22, 2002

STANFORD, Calif. - Just as things started to deteriorate, Stanford began putting itself together. Azella Perryman scored five of her 15 points in the final three minutes, and fifth-ranked Stanford held off Rutgers 64-60 as the season began Friday night.

The Cardinal rebounded from a nine-point second-half deficit to win.

'When things looked the worst we played our best,' said Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer. 'When it got bad our team got good. It wasn't pretty but we made plays when we needed to make plays and we climbed out of a hole.'

Sebnem Kimyacioglu and Kelley Suminski had 12 points apiece as Stanford opened at home for just the fourth time in 11 years. T'Nae Thiel had 10 points and 10 rebounds for her first career double-double.

'Azella did a good job of getting to the basket and drawing the foul,' said Kimyacioglu. 'We were able to spread the court and that allowed us to penetrate.'

Chelsea Newton and Cappie Pondexter scored 14 points each as Rutgers fell to 21-8 in season openers. Mauri Horton added 11 points.

'I thought we did a good job for a while,' said Rutgers coach C. Vivian Stringer. 'I thought our inexperienced showed but I feel encouraged. Our defense created the kind of uptempo game we expected.'

Rutgers was within two points in the final 30 seconds, but Suminski sank a pair of free throws for the final margin of victory.

'We definitely battled back,' said Perryman. 'We showed we weren't going to back down.'

Stanford played without preseason All-American Nicole Powell, who was officially serving a one-game suspension for a minor NCAA rule violation. She's also day-to-day with a bulging disc sustained during the summer.

Katie Denny also was not available due to a broken hand, meaning the Cardinal, who don't have a senior on the roster, played without an upperclassman.

The two Hall of Fame coaches _ Stringer and VanDerveer _ have combined for over 1,200 victories and have won 76 percent of their games. Stringer is the third-winningest coach (653) in women's basketball history.

The Scarlet Knights opened the second half with a 22-3 run and eventually took the lead when Rebecca Richman converted an offensive rebound with 13:53 remaining.

'We just came out, played hard and turned up the intensity,' said Horton. 'We chipped away.'

Rutgers, 9-20 a year ago, built a 45-36 edge as Newton scored 10 of her points during the first eight minutes of the second half, and Stanford missed eight of nine shots.

The Cardinal relied on 3-point shooting and free throws to tie the game at 49 with 6:23 left as Kimyacioglu sank two long-range shots and Susan King added another.

'We needed to stay poised and get back into control,' said King, who played her first game in nearly a year after recovering from an ACL injury. 'We were able to step back in and take over.'

Rutgers scored the first five points of the game, but the Cardinal went on a 16-2 run, highlighted by a pair of fast-break baskets from Suminski, and went on to take a 33-23 halftime lead.

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