No. 7 Stanford Tops Utah, 63-57

Nov. 20, 2004

AP Sports Writer

SALT LAKE CITY - Candice Wiggins is adapting to college basketballquickly.

The Stanford freshman scored 24 points to lead the seventh-ranked Cardinalpast Utah 63-57 Friday night in the season opener for both teams.

The Cardinal beat the Utes for the seventh straight time despite goingscoreless for the final 4:41 of the first half and first 4:38 of the second - aspan of 9:19 that allowed Utah to take a short-lived lead.

Wiggins helped keep the Cardinal from panicking and held off Utah down thestretch.

'I'm pretty new at this college game so I'm not really sure what kind ofpressure we were under,' Wiggins said. 'I'm kind of bright eyed and bushytailed right now.'

Wiggins, the daughter of late former major league baseball player AlanWiggins, hardly looked like a freshman. She led the Cardinal with 11 points athalftime and shot 6-for-7 from the line in the second half as Stanford ralliedto win its fourth straight season opener.

'She's really a phenom. I think a lot of it really is her competitivedesire,' Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer said. 'She has great poise. She'ssomething. We're excited about that.'

VanDerveer is also excited to see what Wiggins and Susan King Borchardt,wife of Utah Jazz center Curtis Borchardt, can do in the backcourt whenBorchardt returns from a foot injury.

The Utes, who have nine underclassmen, couldn't match Stanford's experienceor size.

Azella Perryman finished with eight points and six rebounds for theCardinal, who came within one win of the Final Four last spring.

Kim Smith led Utah with 15 points and nine rebounds. Lana Sitterud, Utah'sonly senior, scored 13 and Deanne Hanchett had 10 points and seven rebounds.Shona Thorburn added 10 points, six rebounds and eight assists.

'We didn't attack their press so we used too much time and got caught inthat. That kind of stalled us out offensively,' Utah coach Elaine Elliottsaid.

Utah felt snubbed last spring after being left out of the NCAA tournamentdespite a 24-7 record. The Utes turned down an invitation to the WNIT and weremaking a run at a big upset Friday night.

Utah scored the final five points of the first half, ending it with a layupby Sitterud just before the buzzer, then scored the first 10 in the second totake a 36-30 lead.

'We didn't come out in the second half with as much intensity as weneeded,' VanDerveer said. 'I think our press got things going for us. Webecame more aggressive.'

Cissy Pierce's jumper with 4:41 remaining in the first half put Stanford up28-19 - the Cardinal's largest lead - but it marked the last points forStanford until Wiggins' two free throws with 15:22 remaining in the game.

Utah briefly regained the lead at 45-44 on Smith's 3-pointer, but theCardinal responded with a 7-0 run started by Wiggins' 3-pointer.

'It was a really disappointing loss because we could have had it. We wereright there,' Smith said.