Stanford Runs Past Santa Clara, 94-57
March 19, 2005
By JANIE McCAULEY
AP Sports Writer
FRESNO, Calif. - Candice Wiggins celebrated a second-half steal andlayup with a jumping fist pump and giant grin. Then she did it again.
Take that, selection committee.
Stanford's freshman star played brilliantly in her NCAA tournament debut,scoring 16 of her 29 points in a dominant second-half outburst that carried thetop-ranked Cardinal to their 21st straight victory, 94-57 over neighbor SantaClara in the first round of the Kansas City Regional on Saturday night.
Wiggins, the first freshman to win Pac-10 Player of the Year, shot 8-for-14,had five rebounds, two steals, and converted all 11 of her free throws beforesitting down for good with 7:17 left. She even received a marriage proposalfrom one gutsy guy in the stands waving a sign.
Brooke Smith added 19 points, 12 rebounds and a career-high five blocks forStanford, which felt slighted by its No. 2 seed but didn't dwell on it.
It's the first time since Texas in 1984 that the top-ranked team isn't a topseed. The Cardinal won their Pac-10 games by an average of 24.9 points, wentunbeaten at home and captured their third straight conference tournament title.
Stanford (30-2) started the second half with a 31-3 run, doubling its10-point halftime lead in the opening two minutes. Wiggins scored seven of thefirst 10 and went on to make her first four field goals and all seven freethrows.
The Cardinal, who surpassed 90 points for the sixth time this season, playagain Monday night against 10th-seeded Utah, a 73-61 winner over Iowa Stateearlier Saturday night. Stanford beat the Utes 63-57 in Salt Lake City in theseason opener for both schools Nov. 19.
If Stanford wins, it could face three-time defending NCAA championConnecticut in Kansas City next Sunday.
Michelle Cozad had 23 points on 9-of-13 shooting and six rebounds for SantaClara, which plays about 30 minutes south down the 101 freeway from theCardinal.
The pesky Broncos (17-14), who start four guards, made five 3-pointers tostart the game, unfazed by Stanford's boisterous contingent of fans. SantaClara stayed in the game thanks to its strong perimeter play - shooting7-for-12 from 3-point range in the first half but 5-of-18 inside the arc.
Santa Clara did the same thing to shock Gonzaga for the WCC tournamentchampionship, making seven straight 3-pointers in the first half against theZags on the way to earning the school's first NCAA berth since receiving anat-large bid three years ago.
Stanford senior forward T'Nae Thiel, nursing a partial fracture in her leftfoot, has been cleared to play but didn't suit up. She could play Monday.
Cardinal coach Tara VanDerveer, who last took her team to the Final Four in1997, relaxed during the day by practicing piano for nearly two hours at anearby Japanese Christian church. The 19th-year coach typically stays at hotelswith pianos on the road.
'There's only so much film I could watch,' she said.
The Kimyacioglu sisters, Stanford senior Sebnem and her sophomore sister,Yasemin, of Santa Clara, met in a college game for the first time. Theirparents cheered constantly, and were fortunate both schools' colors aresimilar. Sebnem scored 11 with three 3-pointers.
The dedicated Stanford dance squad arrived just in time after flying homefrom Charlotte, N.C., where the Cardinal men were eliminated in the first roundby Mississippi State, then busing three hours to Fresno.