Stanford Advances In Tourney With 82-66 Win Over Western Michigan
March 22, 2003
Stanford, Calif. - Nicole Powell, swarmed by children and adults,stayed around Maples Pavilion signing autographs until after midnight.
With the kind of performance she had, it was practically her duty.
Powell had 21 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists as Stanford easilydefeated Western Michigan 82-66 in the first round of the NCAA tournament onSaturday night.
Third-seeded Stanford, playing for the first time in 12 days since it wonthe Pac-10 Conference tournament in San Jose, shot 64.3 percent in the firsthalf and 60.8 for the game. The Cardinal (27-4) won its 26th straight homegame, including its 15th in a row this season at Maples Pavilion.
'This is extremely satisfying for me, considering the obstacles I've had toovercome this year,' said Powell, who has had a remarkable season aftermissing the first nine games with a herniated disc in her back. 'We didn't doeverything as well as we should tonight but we did enough to beat them.'
No. 14 seed Western Michigan (20-12) played only its second NCAA tournamentgame in team history against a Stanford squad making its 16th consecutiveappearance. The Cardinal has lost in the first round of the NCAA tournamentonly three times in the last 16 years.
The Broncos came into the game as the nation's fifth-best scoring teamaveraging 79.3 points per game, but they struggled to find any momentum oneither end of the floor. Maria Jilian led Western Michigan with 16 points andleading scorer Casey Rost, averaging 19 points, had 15 and eight rebounds.
Stanford's balanced offense made sure the Broncos couldn't key just onPowell.
'I'm not going to complain about shooting 60 percent,' Stanford coach TaraVanDerveer said. 'But most of all I like seeing six people in doublefigures.'
Powell, a junior forward, did not earn Pac-10 player of the year honors -the award went to Washington's Giuliana Mendiola - but many believed she shouldhave. Powell opened the 2002 tournament with back-to-back triple-doubles andwas nearly as good against the Broncos.
Powell pumped her fists and cheered after watching her 3-pointer go throughthe net with 4:09 left. She was 4-for-5 from long range and also had a stealand a blocked shot.
Western Michigan missed its first eight shots in the second half and nine of10, and Stanford put the game away with big shots. Thiel's bucket at 11:58 gavethe Cardinal a 66-46 lead.
Thiel scored eight straight points as the Cardinal pulled away in the firsthalf. Her basket at 10:36 started a 14-1 run as Stanford turned a 17-14 deficitinto a 28-18 lead.
The Broncos struggled against Stanford's swarming player-to-player defense, andthe Cardinal hurt Western Michigan's high zone defense with quick, effectivepassing around the perimeter that led to open shots.
'We played our hearts out, but Nicole Powell was just on tonight,' Broncoscoach Ron Stewart said. 'We had no answer for her.'
By JANIE McCAULEY
AP Sports Writer