One Step Away: No. 4/4 Stanford Battles No. 5/6 Maryland Monday With Final Four Berth On The Line
March 30, 2008
No. 4/4 Stanford Cardinal (33-3, 16-2 Pac-10)
- vs. -
No. 5/6 Maryland Terrapins (33-3, 13-1 ACC)
SPOKANE, Wash. - For the fourth time in five years, the Stanford women's basketball team will be taking the court with a berth in the Final Four on the line. Following Saturday's 72-53 victory over Pittsburgh in the regional semifinal round, the Cardinal head into an Elite Eight showdown Monday against the top-seeded Maryland Terrapins at 6:30 p.m. PT. Monday's contest will be televised live on ESPN, with Dave Pasch on play-by-play, Debbie Antonelli on color, and Heather Cox handling sideline reporter duties. The contest will also be broadcast on 90.1 KZSU, with Jake Kelman handling play-by-play duties.
Last Time Out For The Cardinal
In the snow of Spokane, Stanford continued its run towards the national title Saturday night, gutting out a 72-53 win against a game Pittsburgh squad. Leading by one at halftime, the Cardinal outscored the Panthers 43-25 in the final 20 minutes to advance to the Elite Eight. Rosalyn Gold-Onwude was the X-factor in the contest, scoring 15 points on 6-of-8 shooting and grabbing six rebounds, while Jayne Appel (22 points, 13 rebounds) and Kayla Pedersen (12 points, 16 rebounds) posted double-doubles for Stanford. Candice Wiggins scored 14 points, grabbed five rebounds, and passed out four assists in yet another solid all-around effort.
Regional Final Format In Spokane
Four teams took the court at the Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena Saturday night, and now only two remain. Stanford and Maryland, victors over Pittsburgh and Vanderbilt, respectively, will face off on Monday, March 31 for the right to advance to the Final Four in Tampa Bay. The top two seeds in the Spokane Region will face off at 6:30 p.m. PT on ESPN.
Against The 2008 NCAA Tournament Field
The 2008 NCAA Tournament draw turned up 10 of Stanford's regular-season opponents from this season, including a pair of No. 1 seeds in Connecticut and Tennessee. Stanford posted a 12-1 record against those teams, losing only to Connecticut. The Cardinal are 3-0 against California, 2-0 against Arizona State, and hold single wins over Baylor, New Mexico, Old Dominion, Rutgers, Temple, Tennessee, and Utah.
The Terrapins (33-3, 13-1 ACC), only two years removed from their 2006 national championship season, return to the regional final after a second-round exit last year. Maryland finished second in the Atlantic Coast Conference with a 13-1 mark, falling only to undefeated regular-season and ACC Tournament champion North Carolina. Helmed by sixth-year head coach Brenda Frese, the Terrapins are led on the court by a quartet of players scoring in double-figures: All-America candidate center/forward Crystal Langhorne (17.4 ppg, 9.4 rpg), guard Kristi Tolliver (16.6 ppg, 7.50 apg), and forwards Marissa Coleman (16.1 ppg, 7.6 rpg) and Laura Harper (14.2 ppg, 8.4 rpg).
All-Time Against Maryland
Monday's contest marks just the second meeting between Stanford and Maryland. The first meeting came on March 14, 1982, when the Terrapins defeated the Cardinal, 82-48, at College Park in Stanford's first NCAA Tournament appearance.
All-Time Against The ACC
The Cardinal owns an all-time record of 10-7 against the current version of the Atlantic Coast Conference. Stanford's last contest against an ACC opponent was in last year's NCAA Tournament, when it lost to Florida State, 68-61, in the second round. The Cardinal also own a 5-2 mark against the teams of the ACC in NCAA Tournament play, most notably defeating Virginia in the semifinals of the 1990 and `92 Final Fours en route to the program's two national titles.
Saturday's 72-53 victory over Pittsburgh vaulted the Cardinal into the Elite Eight for the fourth time in the last five seasons. In its postseason history, the Cardinal rarely ever exit in the regional semifinal round, having failed to advance past the Sweet 16 now only three times out of its previous 15 trips. A victory over Elite Eight opponent Maryland is now the only thing standing between Stanford and its first trip to the Final Four in 11 years.
Staying Hot When Spokane Freezes Over
There seems to be a correlation of Stanford success and snowfall in Spokane this season, as the Cardinal are now 2-0 when staying in the city when snow has fallen. The Cardinal's first stop in northeastern Washington was from March 1-2, as the team stayed a night in the city before traveling past snow-covered hills to Pullman to play Washington State. Now, with an unexpected snowfall in late March, the Cardinal has continued its success with a regional semifinal win over Pittsburgh Saturday.
Stanford's All-Time Performance In The NCAA Tournament
Stanford owns a 50-19 mark in NCAA Tournament play and is making its 21st consecutive appearance, and 22nd overall. One of the NCAA's most dominant postseason programs, the Cardinal has won a pair of national titles (1990 & `92), appeared in six Final Fours, 12 Elite Eights, and has advanced to the Sweet 16 on 15 occasions. Stanford has now reached the Regional Final round four times over the last five years, with last season being the only exception. Last year, the Cardinal, a No. 2 seed, defeated Idaho State by a score of 96-58 before falling, 68-61, to Florida State in the second round.
Stanford's NCAA Tournament Draw
The Cardinal began the NCAA Tournament on its home court for the 14th time in school history, owning a No. 2 seed for the third time in the last four years, and eighth overall. Stanford's road to its seventh Final Four started with victories of 85-47 and 88-54 in the first two rounds over Cleveland State and UTEP, respectively. Now, with a 72-53 Sweet 16 win over Pittsburgh in hand, the Cardinal advance to take on top-seeded Maryland in the Spokane Regional Final. The Spokane Regional champion will then go to the Final Four to face the Greensboro Region champ.
Stanford Success Continues At Home For The NCAAs
Stanford has now compiled a 22-4 overall record in NCAA Tournament games at Maples Pavilion after last weekend's routs of Cleveland State and UTEP. All-time, the Cardinal boasts a 301-32 (.904) record at home during VanDerveer's tenure. The Cardinal is 186-12 (.939) all-time against Pac-10 foes at home, and has won 98 of its last 105 games at Maples. Stanford's last loss in Maples was in the second round of the NCAA Tournament on March 19, 2007 to Florida State.
The Record-Breaking Crusade Of Candice Wiggins
Heading into the final weeks of her collegiate career, senior guard Candice Wiggins continues to establish multiple career records in the Stanford and Pac-10 women's basketball annals. Currently, Wiggins is already the all-time Stanford leader with a career mark of 19.1 points per game, and on Jan. 31, 2008, against USC, she passed Kate Starbird's all-time leading total of 2,215 points to become Stanford's all-time leading scorer. Wiggins' 2,549 career points are also tops on the Pac-10 career scoring list, as she surpassed Lisa Leslie's previous mark of 2,414 points on March 2 at Washington State. Moving beyond the arc, Wiggins hit her 211th and 212th career three-pointers against Connecticut on Nov. 22, becoming Stanford's new all-time leader and breaking the previous record of 210 held by Vanessa Nygaard. Her 285 career threes also tied the Pac-10 career mark set by Arizona's Lisa Griffith (1997-2000), so with one more trey, Wiggins will top another Pac-10 career list. Additionally, on Dec. 18 at New Mexico, Wiggins passed Sebnem Kimyacioglu's all-time mark of 549 career three-point attempts, and currently holds the top mark with 732. At the charity stripe, Wiggins is the Stanford all-time leader with her 539 career free throws, having surpassed Val Whiting's previous tally of 481 on Jan. 31 against USC. She also currently sits fourth on the all-time free-throw percentage list with an 82.2% success rate, just over two percentage points behind Kelley Suminski's top mark of 84.3%. Finally, on the defensive end, Wiggins' 275 career steals through March 29 leaves her second on Stanford's all-time list, just five away from tying Sonja Henning's leading tally of 280.
One Win Away From Program Best
Stanford's 72-53 NCAA Tournament regional-semifinal victory over Pittsburgh marked win number 33 in the school's fourth 30-win season in the last 11 years, and seventh overall. That the Cardinal one win short of tying the program-best total of 34 wins, accomplished in 1996-97, the year of Stanford's last Final Four appearance. The Cardinal posted a 32-3 record in 2001-02 and 2004-05 and reached the regional round.
Stanford Goes Hollywood
Although the Cardinal are far north of the bright lights of Hollywood, that hasn't stopped the team from gaining some serious star power. Prior to its Sweet 16 victory over Pittsburgh, Stanford received a visit from Oscar-winning actor Cuba Gooding, Jr., who happened to be staying in the same hotel while shooting a film in Spokane. After meeting Head Coach Tara VanDerveer, Gooding took up her offer to visit with members of the team while they watched their traditional postseason motivational pregame film. Gooding wished the team good luck in its Tournament run, and the Cardinal did not disappoint with the 72-53 victory over Pittsburgh.
Guard Rosalyn Gold-Onwude displayed some of her own Hollywood cool in the regional semifinal round, and not just with her great play. Her 15 points (on 6-of-8 shooting), six rebounds, and all-around hustle was the X-factor in Stanford's win over Pittsburgh. Off the court, Gold-Onwude made another key assist, chatting up actor Cuba Gooding, Jr. at the team hotel, and delivering him a Filet-O-Fish from McDonald's. When Gooding offered to reimburse her for the sandwich, Gold-Onwude showed her cool with a simple 'Its on me, don't sweat it, Cuba.'
Winning Big Even When Challenged
The Cardinal have an average margin of victory of 30.3 points through the first three rounds of the NCAA Tournament, and havce proved they can turn away the most dogged challengers by a healthy margin. Second-round opponent UTEP led early, but Stanford surged to a 40-29 halftime lead and eventual 88-54 win. Against Pittsburgh Saturday, the Cardinal led only by one at halftime, but used a 43-25 second half to pull away and defeat the Panthers by 19 points, 72-53.
'Big'-Time Consistency Center Jayne Appel continued her outstanding play in this year's tournament with her 11th double-double of the season Saturday against Pittsburgh. The sophomore scored a team-high 22 points, grabbed 13 rebounds, and sank a career-best eight free throws. Defensively, Appel also blocked three shots to improve her school single-season record to 83. For the tournament, Appel leads the team in scoring (25.0 ppg), shooting (68.2%), and blocked shots (four).
Rookie forward Kayla Pedersen's productive postseason debut has been a major reason for Stanford's run to the Elite Eight. In the third-round win over Pittsburgh, the freshman posted her ninth double-double of the season by scoring 12 points and matching her career high with 16 rebounds. Through the first three rounds, Pedersen is averaging a double-double with 10.7 points and 13.0 rebounds per game.
Dynamic Duo In The Paint
The play of Jayne Appel and Kayla Pedersen in this tournament has been just about unstoppable for the opposition. Saturday night's win over Pittsburgh provided a nice microcosm for Stanford's fortunes when the paint crew is firing from all cylinders. It marked the fourth time that the duo had each posted a double-double in the same contest (22 points, 13 rebounds for Appel; 12 points, 16 rebounds for Pedersen), and their aggressive play helped the Cardinal win the battle of the boards by a staggering 54-30 margin.
Stanford's 72-53 win Saturday night ran its current winning streak to 21 games, the Cardinal's longest stretch of victories since 2004-05's 23-game run from Dec. 29, 2005 to March 29, 2006. That 23-game streak was not only the last time Stanford had won at least 20 games in a row, but is also the Cardinal's longest winning streak of the current decade. The Cardinal could break that though, by winning the national title, in which the final would be win No. 24.
Wiggins Reeling In The Postseason Honors
National postseason recognition has already begun finding its way to Candice Wiggins, as the senior guard was named to both Sports Illustrated's and ESPN.com's All-America First Teams, and is one of 40 finalists, along with teammate Jayne Appel, for the WBCA's State Farm All-America Team. The senior from San Diego was also selected as a finalist for the prestigious Naismith Trophy, given to the top collegiate women's basketball player in the nation, the John R. Wooden Award, and the Wade Trophy.
Another 700-Point SeasonWith her 14 points in Saturday's contest, senior guard Candice Wiggins recorded her second career 700-point season, and just the third in Stanford history. Wiggins, already the Stanford and Pac-10 all-time leading scorer with 2,549 points through Saturday's contest, now has 707 points this year, 46 away from tying Kate Starbird's school single-season record of 753 in the 1996-97 season. The first 700-point season for Wiggins came in her sophomore year of 2005-06, where she scored 740 points (21.8 ppg).
Defense Doing Its Job
Stanford's defensive play deserves its fair share of the accolades in the team's Elite Eight run so far this year. The Cardinal have not allowed an opponent to score more than 54 points so far in the tournament, and on the year, it held 12 opponents to under 50 points. Saturday, the defense locked down in the second half, as Rosalyn Gold-Onwude limited Pittsburgh's Shavonte Zellous in the key second half, and the team combined to block eight shots and allow only 30 rebounds all game to the Panthers.
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