Stanford Cruises Past Cleveland State in Opening Round, 85-47

March 22, 2008

STANFORD, Calif. (AP) - Jayne Appel dominated tournament first-timer Cleveland State, scoring 29 of her career-high 33 points in the first half to help the second-seeded Cardinal roll to an 85-47 first-round victory Saturday night.

Appel shot 14-for-19, finished two shy of tying Stanford's NCAA tournament record and pulled down 12 rebounds in 25 minutes. The Cardinal (31-3) won their 19th straight game without relying on Pac-10 career scoring-leader Candice Wiggins.

They play at home again Monday against UTEP or Western Kentucky with a chance to advance to the Spokane Regional.

Kailey Klein had 16 points, five rebounds and four assists and Robyn Hoying added 10 points and seven boards to lead upstart Cleveland State (19-14), the 15th seed playing with just nine healthy players. The Horizon League tournament champions earned an NCAA bid a year after winning only eight games.

Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer noticed Appel's focus in practice all week - from the eye contact to the assertive nods. Appel received a standing ovation when she got a breather at the 8:43 mark of the first half, and VanDerveer gave her several hard claps and some nice words. The fans went wild again when Appel sat down 1:22 before halftime.

Appel made her first four field-goal tries before missing, but grabbed her own rebound on that miss and made the putback 5:59 into the game for a 14-6 lead. That gave her nine straight points for Stanford. Her three-point play at 15:39 started a 14-0 run that featured 13 points by the first-team all-Pac-10 center and a free throw from Wiggins.

Before Wiggins' 3-pointer with 3:13 remaining in the first half, the rest of Stanford's players were 2-for-10 to Appel's 10-of-14. Appel outscored Cleveland State 33-32 over the first 27 minutes of the contest.

Pac-10 Freshman of the Year Kayla Pedersen pulled down 12 rebounds to go with nine points and four assists for Stanford, which is making its 21st straight NCAA appearance.

The Cardinal are determined to make a deep run this March and send Wiggins - the heart and soul of this program the past four seasons - out in style before she is selected in next month's WNBA draft.

Stanford looked sharp coming off its fifth straight Pac-10 tournament title and eighth consecutive conference regular-season crown, shooting 52 percent in the first half on the way to a 45-22 lead at the break. The Cardinal converted 21 of 23 free throws.

Appel made sure Stanford didn't make history by becoming the first No. 2 seed to lose to a 15th seed in the women's tournament. Stanford thought it had shown enough to earn a No. 1 seed this year after another impressive season that included a victory over then-No. 1 Tennessee in December.

Cleveland State, a small, up-tempo team that VanDerveer compared to the Phoenix Suns, started the game 3-for-24 and finished 25 percent from the floor (19-for-75) while getting outrebounded 57-31.

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