Stanford Battles Pittsburgh In Sweet 16 Matchup Saturday Night
March 26, 2008
No. 4/4 Stanford Cardinal (32-3, 16-2 Pac-10)
- vs. -
Pittsburgh Panthers (24-10, 10-6 Big East)
STANFORD, Calif. - It is two games down and four to go on No. 4/4 Stanford's path to the 2008 national title, as the Cardinal get set to open regional semifinal action Saturday, March 29 against the Pittsburgh Panthers. This weekend also marks the 15th time that Stanford has reached the Sweet 16, and the fourth time in the last five seasons. Saturday's contest will be televised live on ESPN2, 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
As the No. 2 seed in the Spokane Region, Stanford began its NCAA Tournament run in the friendly confines of Maples Pavilion last weekend. In front of a supportive home crowd, the Cardinal rolled to wins of 85-47 and 88-54 over 15th-seeded Cleveland State and seventh-seeded UTEP, respectively. Candice Wiggins set a new Stanford single-game NCAA Tournament record and matched the school single-game scoring record with 44 points Monday against UTEP, and just missed a triple-double as she posted 10 rebounds and eight assists as well. Jayne Appel scored 33 points in the opening-round win over Cleveland State, then added 20 points, six assists, and five rebounds in Monday's rout of the Miners.
Regional Semifinal And Final Format In Spokane
Four teams will take the court in the regional semifinal round at Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena Saturday, March 29, and the two remaining will face off on Monday, March 31 for the right to advance to the Final Four in Tampa. Top seed Maryland will face No. 4 Vanderbilt at 6 p.m. PT to open Saturday's action, followed by No. 2 Stanford against No. 6 Pittsburgh at 8:30 p.m. PT.
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 Panthers (24-10, 10-6 Big East) are in the midst of their second NCAA Tournament appearance, and are making their first trip to the Sweet 16. Pittsburgh finished tied for fifth in the Big East with a 10-6 mark, and reached the Big East Tournament semifinals, where it fell to Connecticut. Helmed by fifth-year head coach Agnus Berenato, the Panthers are led on the court by guard Shavonte Zellous (18.1 ppg, 5.4 rpg) and center Marcedes Walker (13.9 ppg, 9.6 rpg).
All-Time Against Pittsburgh
Saturday's contest marks the first meeting between Stanford and Pittsburgh since Dec. 5, 1986, when the Cardinal captured a 59-49 victory in Pittsburgh.
All-Time Against The Big East
The Cardinal owns an all-time record of 14-5 against the current, 16-team incarnation of the Big East. Stanford is 1-1 this season against the conference, having defeated then-No. 3 Rutgers, 60-58, on Nov. 11, and fallen to No. 1 Connecticut, 66-54, in the Paradise Jam on Nov. 22. Stanford has only played seven of the current 16 Big East teams, and has played UConn the most, holding a 4-3 record against the Huskies.
How Sweet It Is
With victories over Cleveland State and UTEP, Stanford RSVP'd to the Sweet 16 for the 15th time and the fourth time in the last five seasons. The Cardinal rarely ever stop at the regional semifinals, as it has only failed to advance past the Round of 16 three times out of its previous 14 trips, and has advanced to the Elite Eight the past three occasions (2004-06).
Returning To Spokane
This weekend also marks the Cardinal's second trip of the year to Spokane, as Stanford stayed in the city for a night prior to its March 2 contest at Washington State. In that game, Stanford defeated the Cougars, 74-52 in the Pac-10 regular-season finale, and Candice Wiggins became the conference's all-time leading scorer, passing Lisa Leslie's career tally of 2,414 points.
Stanford's All-Time Performance In The NCAA Tournament
Stanford owns a 49-19 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, 11 Elite Eights, and has advanced to the Sweet 16 on 15 occasions. Stanford has reached the Regional Final round three times over the last four 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 an 85-47 victory over Cleveland State, and continued with an 88-54 rout of No. 7 UTEP in the second round. Now set to face sixth-seeded Pittsburgh in the Sweet 16, Stanford, should it get by the Panthers, would advance to take on No. 1 Maryland or No. 4 Vanderbilt in the Spokane Regional Final. The Spokane Regional champion will then go to the Final Four to face the Greensboro region's 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.
Stanford Reigns Supreme At Pac-10 Tournament
The Cardinal captured its fifth Pac-10 Tournament title in the last seven years on March 10 with a 56-35 rout of California. Candice Wiggins, who was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player for the third time in her career, scored a game-high 30 points on 12-of-23 shooting (including 5-for-11 on three-pointers) in addition to grabbing four rebounds and making three steals. Freshman Kayla Pedersen scored 13 points and grabbed seven rebounds, while Jayne Appel pulled down 14 boards of her own to help Stanford win the rebounding battle by a 46-38 margin. The Cardinal defense forced 16 California turnovers while holding the Golden Bears to just 35 points, a season-low for Stanford opponents. Stanford won all three of its tournament contests by at least 21 points, defeating Oregon State, 64-41, in the quarterfinals, routing UCLA by a score of 78-45 in the semifinal round, then clamping down on California to capture the tournament crown. Appel and Pedersen were named to the All-Tournament Team as Stanford claimed half of the six honors following the championship game.
Pride Of The Pac-10
Stanford captured its eighth consecutive Pac-10 regular season title, and 17th in the last 22 years, on March 2, the final day of the season. With a 74-52 victory at Washington State, the Cardinal, at 16-2 in Pac-10 play, clinched at least a share of the title, then became outright champions a few hours later when California fell, 74-66, at Washington. During the conference season, the Cardinal opened 2-2 after suffering a weekend sweep at UCLA and USC, but reeled off 14 straight wins to close the slate. Stanford won 11 Pac-10 games by at least 20 points, boasted a scoring margin of 20.3 points, and went 9-0 on the home court.
The Cardinal In The Polls
Stanford remained at No. 4 in both the Associated Press and USA Today/ESPN Coaches Polls that came out on Monday, March 17.
Among The National Stats Leaders
The Cardinal is in the National Top 50 in quite a few categories through the games of March 16, including: scoring margin (+19.2 - fourth), assist-to-turnover ratio (1.31 - fourth), fewest turnovers per game (13.2 - sixth), assists per game (17.18 - 10th), FG percentage defense (35.5% - 13th), blocks per game (171 - 5.18 - 14th), scoring defense (55.2 - 15th), rebounding margin (+6.9 - 15th), FG percentage (45.5% - 16th), scoring offense (74.4 - 18th), and fewest fouls per game (14.6 - 31st). Individually, Jayne Appel's 58.6 FG percentage is 11th in the nation, and her 2.39 blocks per game are tied for 23rd. Candice Wiggins stands 17th with 19.3 points per game.
In The Pac-10 Rankings
Through the end of the Pac-10 Tournament, Stanford led the Pac-10 in scoring offense (74.4 ppg), scoring margin (+19.2), FG percentage (45.5%), assists per game (17.18), blocked shots (171 - 5.18 per game), turnover margin (+3.73), and assist-to-turnover ratio (1.31). The Cardinal sat second in opponents' points per game (55.2 ppg), opponents' FG percentage (35.5%), free-throw percentage (71.5%), and rebounding margin (+6.9). Individually, Candice Wiggins led the conference in scoring (19.3 ppg), and was third in free-throw percentage (82.7%). Jayne Appel led the loop in FG percentage (58.6%) and blocks (79 - 2.39 per game), was second in rebounding (8.8 rpg), and fifth in scoring (14.2 ppg). Kayla Pedersen was third in rebounding (8.1 rpg), seventh in FG percentage (49.5%), and eighth in scoring (12.8 ppg).
Stanford Dominates Pac-10 Honors
The Pac-10 announced its season awards March 6, and it was no surprise that Stanford dominated many of the honors. The Cardinal captured three of the four season awards, as Candice Wiggins became the first player to ever win three Pac-10 Player of the Year awards, Kayla Pedersen became Stanford's seventh Pac-10 Freshman of the Year (and fifth in the last nine years), and Tara VanDerveer garnered her ninth Coach of the Year honor. Additionally, Wiggins and sophomore Jayne Appel were named to the All-Pac-10 First Team, Pedersen was named to the third team, and Jillian Harmon and JJ Hones received honorable mention nods. Pedersen also earned a spot on the Pac-10 All-Freshman Team, while fellow rookie Jeanette Pohlen was named honorable mention. Appel, Rosalyn Gold-Onwude, Harmon, and Wiggins rounded things out by being named Pac-10 All-Defensive Team honorable mention.
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' 2,535 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 728. At the charity stripe, Wiggins is the Stanford all-time leader with her 535 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 82.4% success rate, just under two percentage points behind Kelley Suminski's top mark of 84.3%. Finally, on the defensive end, Wiggins' 273 career steals through March 22 leaves her second on Stanford's all-time list, just seven away from tying Sonja Henning's leading tally of 280.
Out Of The Round Of 32 Thanks To Win No. 32
Stanford's 88-54 NCAA Tournament second-round victory over UTEP marked win number 32 in the school's fourth 30-win season in the last 11 years, and seventh overall. In 1996-97, the Cardinal posted a program-best 34-2 mark, and ended the season at the Final Four. The two other 30-win years since occured in 2001-02 and 2004-05, in which the Cardinal posted a 32-3 record each season and reached the regional rounds.
She Saved The Best For Last
In last Monday's second-round game against UTEP, Candice Wiggins saved her best, and probably the best single-game performance in Stanford history, for her last game in Maples Pavilion, scoring 44 points, grabbing 10 rebounds, passing out eight assists, and making three steals in the Cardinal's 88-54 win. Her 44 points not only set Stanford's new benchmark for a single-game NCAA Tournament performance, but it also tied the school's single-game scoring mark originally held by Kate Starbird since 1996. The tally was also the third-best single-game scoring effort in NCAA Tournament history, and Wiggins finished just two assists shy of her first career triple-double.
Dominating The Paint
Sophomore center Jayne Appel continued her spectacular play in this year's NCAA Tournament last Monday against UTEP, scoring 20 points, dishing six assists, and grabbing five rebounds. Yet the most attention-grabbing stat in Appel's line was her 9-for-9 effort from the floor, which has brought her performance from the field over the tournament's first two games to an incredible 82.1% (23-for-28). Through the first two rounds, Appel is averaging 26.5 points and 8.5 rebounds per game.
Leaving No Doubt
One look at the scores of Stanford's first two NCAA Tournament games lets any fan know that this team means business in its quest for a third national title. The Cardinal has used fast starts to bludgeon its opponents early and often, crushing any thoughts of upset with a ruthless efficiency. Through the first two rounds, Stanford boasts an average margin of victory of 36.0 points, and has won two games by at least 30 points in one NCAA Tournament for the third time in program history. The first two occasions came in the 1996 and 1997 tournaments.
Pass It Around
The Cardinal came up just one assist short of its season-high Monday night, ending up with 25 assists in the victory over UTEP. Candice Wiggins led the way with eight assists on the night, while Jayne Appel continued proving herself to be one of the top passing centers in the nation with six assists. JJ Hones and Kayla Pedersen each passed out three assists, adding to the Cardinal's Pac-10 leading 17.49 assists per game.
Leavin' `Em In A Cloud Of Dust
Much of Stanford's success this season has been predicated on getting out to quick leads and just conitnuing to pile on its foes. Monday night against UTEP, the Cardinal once again employed that tactic successfully, taking a 19-13 lead in the first half then stepping on the gas pedal to zoom to a 40-29 halftime advantage. The Miners could not recover, and the Cardinal improved to 27-0 on the year in games that it has led going into halftime.
2,500 And Counting...
Candice Wiggins' career-high 44 points Monday night not only tied Stanford's single-game best and set the new benchmark for most points in a Stanford NCAA Tournament game, but it also bumped her career scoring tally over the 2,500-point mark. Entering the game with 2,491 points in her illustrious career, Wiggins scored her 2,500th career point just 6:25 into the contest, and went well on her way to the next milestone, scoring 35 more points to finish the game at 2,535 career points.
Twenty Is Still Not Plenty
Stanford's 88-54 win Monday night ran its current winning streak to 20 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. 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, as well as the John R. Wooden Award.
Appel And Wiggins Take On All Comers
So far through two rounds of the NCAA Tournament, Stanford has gotten so much production from the duo of Candice Wiggins and Jayne Appel that the two leading scorers have outscored both of the Cardinal's tournament opponents combined! The duo has combined to score 110 points (57 for Wiggins, 53 for Appel) while Cleveland State and UTEP have combined to post 101 points. Wiggins and Appel are leading the Cardinal with 28.5 and 26.5 points per game in this year's NCAA Tournament, respectively.
Pedersen Having Quite The Debut
Freshman forward Kayla Pedersen has not been shy at all about making her presence felt in her first career NCAA Tournament, already averaging a double-double of 10.0 points and 11.5 rebounds over the first two rounds. The Fountain Hills, Ariz. native made her debut with nine points and 12 rebounds in Saturday's win over Cleveland State, then continued the hot play with her first NCAA Tournament double-double against UTEP, scoring 11 points and grabbing 11 rebounds.
Perfect At Home
March 24's 88-54 victory over UTEP in the second round of the NCAA Tournament completed Stanford's first undefeated home season since going 11-0 at Maples in 2004-05. That mark had been Stanford's last unblemished record at Maples since posting undefeated home marks in each of the three seasons from 1994-97. Stanford posted a 15-0 at home in 2007-08, and won 13 of those games by at least 20 points. Monday's win gave Stanford an average margin of victory of 28.2 points on its home court this season.