Stanford Downs Arizona, 65-55
March 3, 2007
SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) - Candice Wiggins made an impressive return to Stanford's lineup, scoring 16 points with four 3-pointers to lead the seventh-ranked Cardinal past Arizona 65-55 Saturday night and into the Pac-10 tournament semifinals.
Wiggins missed the final two conference games with a hamstring injury, but coach Tara VanDerveer opted to start the two-time Pac-10 player of the year and monitor her closely. Wiggins played 35 minutes and hit back-to-back 3s to start an 8-2 spurt in the second half of Stanford's seventh straight win. The Cardinal beat the Wildcats for the ninth time in a row -- with eight of those being by double digits.
The Cardinal (26-4) advanced to play in the second semifinal Sunday against the winner of the late game between Southern California and Washington. Stanford is looking to win this championship again after losing 85-76 to UCLA in overtime last season to end the Cardinal's three-year run of conference tournament titles.
Pac-10 freshman of the year Jayne Appel added 18 points, 13 rebounds and three assists for Stanford -- and she scored five straight points during one second-half stretch. Jillian Harmon scored 10 of her 11 points in the opening 10 minutes and dished out five assists, while Brooke Smith had nine points, nine rebounds and six assists.
Ashley Whisonant scored 14 of her 18 points in the first half and Joy Hollingsworth added 14 points and six rebounds for the Wildcats, who appeared to get tired in the second half against the physical Cardinal. Whisonant, Arizona's gutsy junior guard, was chasing Wiggins around for much of the night and eventually fouled out.
Arizona (11-21) lost three of its last four Pac-10 games, but played ninth-ranked Arizona State tough in a 59-54 defeat Feb. 24 to end the conference season.
But the Wildcats saw just how different Stanford's team is with Wiggins on the floor. She brings energy and enthusiasm on both ends of the court that her teammates feed off.
Wiggins was thrilled to be back on the court, having looked in VanDerveer's eyes earlier and promised she was fine to play. Wiggins cheered loudly as she ran out during introductions with her left hamstring wrapped. Afterward, she sprinted off the floor with her teammates running close behind.
Stanford, coming off its school-record seventh straight Pac-10 regular-season title, led by 14 points in the first half, but needed a strong showing over the final 20 minutes after allowing Arizona to get back in it.
The Wildcats started the game 3-for-14 and had a tough time getting anything going inside against the Cardinal's talented posts. Stanford made its first four 3-point attempts then missed seven straight during one stretch late in the half and was outscored 13-2 over the final 4:50 as the Wildcats pulled to 30-28 at the break.