Battle of the Bay This Saturday As No. 7/7 Stanford Hosts No. 8/8 California
Jan. 23, 2008
No. 7/7 Stanford Cardinal (16-3, 6-2 Pac-10)
- vs. -
No. 8/8 California Golden Bears (17-2, 8-0 Pac-10)
STANFORD, Calif. - The No. 7/7 Stanford women's basketball team opens up a three-game homestand this Saturday with a Bay Area showdown against the No. 8/8 California Golden Bears at 2 p.m. This first meeting between the fierce Pac-10 rivals will conclude the first half of the conference season as well as play a pivotal role in the road to the Pac-10 regular-season title. The Golden Bears currently lead the Cardinal by two games in the Pac-10 race, making Saturday a prime opportunity for Stanford to gain crucial ground on California. Saturday afternoon's contest will be televised live on FSN Bay Area with Jim Watson handling the play-by-play and Mary Murphy on color. The contest will also be available on the airwaves at 90.1 KZSU, with play-by-play man Jake Kelman on the call.
Last Time Out For The Cardinal
The Cardinal chalked up its first road sweep of the Pac-10 season this past weekend, capturing a pair of big wins in the state of Arizona. Stanford kicked off the trip with an 89-64 victory over the Arizona Wildcats Thursday night, as Jayne Appel paced five Cardinal players scoring in double figures with her fifth double-double of the season, scoring 16 points and grabbing 11 rebounds. Sunday, the Cardinal overcame an 11-point halftime deficit and stole a 60-56 win against the No. -/25 Arizona State Sun Devils, with Candice Wiggins scoring 18 points to lead the way.
The Golden Bears (17-2, 8-0 Pac-10) enter Saturday's contest as not only the Pac-10 leaders, but also with the program's highest-ever ranking, at No. 8/8. Helmed by Joanne Boyle in her third year at California, the Golden Bears are led on the court by reigning Pac-10 Player of the Year Devanei Hampton (13.5 ppg, 6.7 rpg) at forward, and fellow post Ashley Walker (16.6 ppg, 9.6 rpg). In the backcourt, point guard Alexis Gray-Lawson is averaging 12.3 points and 3.16 assists per game.
All-Time Against California
Stanford holds a 47-16 advantage in the all-time series against California heading into Thursday's contest. The Cardinal has won 29 of the last 31 meetings with the Golden Bears since Jan. 21, 1994, although California managed to stop Stanford's 14-game winning streak in the series with a victory in the last meeting, which took place Feb. 4, 2007.
The Cardinal In The Polls
Stanford remained at No. 7 in the Associated Press Poll, but fell a spot to No. 7 in the USA Today/ESPN Coaches Poll this week despite two victories in Arizona.
Among The National Stats Leaders
The Cardinal found itself in the National Top 50 in quite a few categories through the games of Jan. 20, including: fewest turnovers per game (13.6 - third), assist-to-turnover ratio (1.26 - fourth), scoring margin (+18.3 - ninth), assists per game (17.1 - 11th), rebounding margin (+8.1 - 15th), scoring offense (75.8 - 15th), FG percentage (45.9% - 21st), FG percentage defense (36.1% - 29th), scoring defense (57.5 - 41st), and blocks per game (85 - 4.5 - T-49th). Individually, Jayne Appel's 57.3 FG percentage stood 21st in the nation and her 2.1 blocks per game were 47th. Candice Wiggins stands 39th with 17.6 points per game.
In The Pac-10 Rankings
Through the games of Jan. 20, Stanford leads the Pac-10 in scoring offense (75.8 ppg), scoring margin (+18.3), FG percentage (45.9%), blocked shots (85 - 4.47 per game), turnover margin (+3.89), assists per game (17.11), and assist-to-turnover ratio (1.26). The Cardinal also sits second in opponents' points per game (57.5 ppg), opponents' FG percentage (36.1%), rebounding (41.9 rpg), rebounding margin (+8.1), while the team is third in rebounding defense (33.8). Individually, Candice Wiggins is second in the conference in scoring (17.6 ppg), free-throw percentage (79.5%), and third in steals (2.26 per game). Jayne Appel leads the loop in blocks (40 - 2.05 per game), is second in field-goal percentage (57.3%), third in rebounding (8.4 rpg), and fifth in scoring (15.6 ppg). Kayla Pedersen is second in rebounding (8.5 rpg).
Battle Of The Bay
Saturday afternoon's clash between Stanford and California is fraught with potential in terms of the makeup of the Pac-10's top seeds in the conference tournament. Trailing by two games in the standings, the Cardinal can halve its deficit with a win, and at the same time gain a psychological edge on the upstart Golden Bears. Yet a loss could damage Stanford's hopes for an eighth consecutive Pac-10 regular-season title, dropping the Cardinal into a three-game hole with only one head-to-head meeting remaining against the Golden Bears over the last nine contests of Pac-10 play.
Top 10 Vs. Top 10
The Cardinal-Golden Bears matchup also marks a first in the storied Bay Area rivalry: Saturday's contest is the first time that No. 7/7 Stanford and No. 8/8 California meet one another as Top-10 teams in the national polls. It is also the third straight meeting in which each school is ranked, as last season, No. 12/12 Stanford defeated No. 21/21 California, 69-44 on Jan. 6, 2007 in Berkeley, and on Feb. 4, 2007, No. 21/21 California returned the favor by handing No. 8/9 Stanford a 72-57 setback at Maples Pavilion.
Faring Well Against The Best
California's No. 8/8 ranking makes it the fifth Top-10 team that Stanford will play this year. The Cardinal, has posted a 3-1 mark against the four previous Top-10 teams it has met, defeating then-No. 1/1 Tennessee (Dec. 22), No. 3/3 Rutgers (Nov. 11), and No. 10/10 Baylor (Dec. 16), while losing only to No. 2/2 Connecticut (Nov. 22).
That Was Entertaining TV!
Sunday afternoon's come-from-behind 60-56 win at No. -/25 Arizona State highlighted Stanford's never-say-die attitude, as it marked the third game this season in which the Cardinal has bounced back from a double-digit deficit to win. Stanford trailed by as many as 14 points against the Sun Devils before winning the contest. Prior to Sunday, the Cardinal had also pulled the stunt on Tennessee (trailed by 11 at one point) on Dec. 22, as well as Temple (trailed by as many as 19) on Nov. 25.
Just Taking Over
Senior guard Candice Wiggins proved once again Sunday why she is one of the top gamers in the nation, leading her team to a big comeback win at Arizona State. With Stanford trailing by 11 at the break, Wiggins heated up, shooting 4-for-8 from the floor and scoring 13 of her game-high 18 points in the second half to spur a Cardinal comeback and keep Stanford within two games of first-place California.
Stanford has a tendency to rebound nicely from losses, even ones that come back-to-back. Four wins in a row following Jan. 6's loss at USC mark the start of a good recovery from the sweep in Los Angeles. Following its first loss of this season on Thanksgiving night to Connecticut, Stanford reeled off nine straight wins in response. Discounting last year's season-ending loss to Florida State in the NCAA Tournament, the Cardinal responded to its previous two losses of 2006-07 with lengthy winning streaks. After losses at No. 4/4 Tennessee and No. 8/8 Georgia on Nov. 24 & 26, 2006, the Cardinal reeled off 17 wins in a row. That streak was broken by a 72-57 loss to No. 21/21 California on Feb. 4, 2007, but the Cardinal re-energized from that hiccup with 10 consecutive wins.
In The Zone
Center Jayne Appel has been the Cardinal player with the hottest hand as of late, shooting a sizzling 76.9% (40-for-52) from the field over the last five games. Over that span, she has averaged 16.6 points and 8.0 rebounds a game as Stanford has posted a 4-1 mark. The white-hot performances have skyrocketed Appel's shooting percentage on the year to 57.3%, good for second in the Pac-10 and 21st in the nation. In addition to her solid play over the last five games, Appel added her fifth double-double of the season Thursday at Arizona, scoring 16 points and grabbing 11 rebounds.
The Eyes Of Texas Were Upon Her
Stanford's lone Texan, junior forward Morgan Clyburn, had a career night Thursday at Arizona, shooting a perfect 4-for-4 (also nailing both three-point attempts) from the field for a career-high 10 points. Clyburn also blocked her tenth shot of the season, impressing once again with her confident play and ability to spell fellow posts Jayne Appel and Kayla Pedersen during significant stretches of games.
Climbing To The Top Of The Record Books
Heading into the 2007-08 season, senior guard Candice Wiggins stands on the brink of establishing multiple career records in the Stanford women's basketball annals. Currently, Wiggins is already the all-time Stanford leader with a career mark of 18.6 points per game, and now stands second with 2,176 career points. With 35 points in the Dec. 16 win over Baylor, Wiggins became the fifth player in Stanford history to score 2,000 career points, and needs just 40 more points to take over the top spot from all-time scoring leader Kate Starbird (2,215 points). Moving beyond the arc, Wiggins hit her 211th and 212th career three-pointers against Connecticut on Nov. 22, becoming the new all-time leader and breaking the previous record of 210 held by Vanessa Nygaard. Currently, she has 241 threes in her career. Additionally, Wiggins on Dec. 18 at New Mexico passed Sebnem Kimyacioglu's all-time mark of 549 career three-point attempts, and currently holds the mark with 612 career attempts. At the charity stripe, Wiggins is third all-time with her 461 career free throws, and currently sits fourth on the all-time free-throw percentage list with an 81.7% success rate, just under three percentage points behind Kelley Suminski's top mark of 84.3%. Finally, on the defensive end, Wiggins' 240 career steals through Jan. 20 leaves her fifth on Stanford's all-time list, just 40 away from tying Sonja Henning's leading tally of 280.
Paying Back The Native State
Oregon native Jillian Harmon turned in a solid weekend against the Pac-10 schools of her home state this past weekend, averaging 7.5 points and 7.5 rebounds in the two contests. After pulling down six rebounds against the Beavers on Thursday, Harmon, a Lake Oswego native, shot 6-of-7 from the floor against the Ducks on Saturday, scoring 15 points and grabbing nine rebounds in Stanford's 83-49 win.
Paying Back The Native State, Part II
Arizona native Kayla Pedersen took Jillian Harmon's example to heart and produced a great weekend against the Pac-10 schools of her own home state last week. Over the two games, the Fountain Hills native averaged 17.0 points and 8.5 rebounds, including matching her season-high with 22 points at Arizona Thursday night. Also, Pedersen shot 61.9% (13-for-21) from the field against the Wildcats and Sun Devils, doing her part in Stanford's crucial sweep in the desert.
Sign Of Things To Come?
With a 6-2 mark in Pac-10 play, just two games back of 6-0 California, Stanford shouldn't have to worry about catching the Golden Bears if recent history has anything to say about it. With two games still to be played against California, the Cardinal can point confidently to its 29 wins in the last 31 meetings with the Golden Bears.
The 700 Club
Stanford head coach Tara VanDerveer became just the seventh member of the '700 Club' on Dec. 28, earning career win No. 700 with the 105-47 victory over Washington State. Of the seven members, VanDerveer is the second-fastest to have reached 700 wins, needing just 885 games to accomplish the feat. Tennessee head coach Pat Summitt was the fastest, reaching 700 wins in 847 total games. Following the win over the Cougars, VanDerveer was feted by the Maples Pavilion crowd, as a video tribute to her career was played and Stanford Athletic Director Bob Bowlsby presented her with a bouquet of flowers and a commemorative basketball.
Home Sweet Home
Tara VanDerveer's teams have compiled a 294-32 (.902) record at home during her tenure. The Cardinal is 181-12 (.938) all-time against Pac-10 foes at home. Stanford has also won 91 of its last 98 games at Maples. Stanford's last loss in Maples was on March 19, 2007 to Florida State, while the last home conference loss was on Feb. 4, 2007, when California posted a 72-57 victory over the Cardinal.
Certainly Not Gracious Hosts
Nov. 28's regular-season home opener against San Francisco began what Stanford hopes will become its first undefeated home season since going 11-0 at Maples in 2004-05. Since posting undefeated home marks in each of the three seasons from 1994-97, the Cardinal has only posted one unblemished mark at home (2004-05). Currently, Stanford is 8-0 at home in 2007-08, and has won seven of those games by over 20 points. Through last Saturday's win over Oregon, Stanford boasts an average margin of victory of 30.8 points in its home games this season.
Belated Christmas Gift
Three-time All-American guard Candice Wiggins received a late holiday gift on Jan. 10, as she was named the WBCA's Player of the Month for December. Over the final month of the calendar year, Wiggins averaged 20.5 points and 3.2 assists while leading the Cardinal to a perfect 6-0 mark, victories over No. 10/10 Baylor and No. 1/1 Tennessee, and a national No. 2 ranking.
Retiring The Numbers
So far this season, freshmen Jeanette Pohlen and Kayla Pedersen have each had the honor of seeing their respective high school retire their prep number. At Brea Olinda High, Pohlen's No. 32 jersey was retired as a testament to the career of BOHS' all-time leading scorer (2,196 points) and rebounder (1,140 rebounds), and 2007's Ms. California Basketball. In Mesa, Ariz., Pedersen's alma mater, Red Mountain High, raised her No. 14 jersey to the rafters in testament to a career which saw Pedersen be twice named Gatorade Player of the Year, lead RMHS to the 5A-DI state title in 2007, and set school career records with 2,611 points (also state 5A record), 1,444 rebounds, 434 assists, and 304 blocks.
Gotta Stay Healthy
No matter how much talent is on any given roster, a team must stay as healthy as possible to give itself the best chance for a national title. Freshman Ashley Cimino, after missing the first 15 games of the season due to a lingering back injury, made her collegiate debut Jan. 10 against Oregon State. Sophomore forward Michelle Harrison was lost for the year in the season opener at Yale with a torn ACL and sprained MCL in her left knee, and sophomore point guard Melanie Murphy was also lost for the year with a torn ACL on Nov. 24 against Old Dominion at the Paradise Jam.