Losses by Maryland, UNC leave ACC feeling empty
AP Photo/Elaine Thompson
Not a happy ending for the ACC
By Mechelle Voepel
Stanford, Wiggins get help from Hones, Pedersen
By Graham Hays
What you saw is what you get from Candice Wiggins. The emotion that spilled out as the final seconds ticked off the clock in Spokane was as genuine as the talent that fueled her second 40-plus-point performance of the first four rounds.
She really is that good and she really is that likable.
But even Wiggins' virtuoso performance against Maryland might not have been enough to finally get Stanford back to the Final Four, if not for a couple of players who had never stepped foot on a court in a game this big before Monday.
AP Photo/Elaine Thompson
Stanford got unexpected help from JJ Hones, who scored a career-high 23 points.
Long before the television cameras and trips to Tampa, back in that part of the fall reserved for preseason preparation, Wiggins offered a frank assessment of the team that lost in the second round of last season's NCAA tournament. In the end, by her account, that team lacked the mental toughness to handle adversity in the postseason.
"That team last year was the most talented team I've been on at Stanford," Wiggins said in October. "We were so deep, so talented, so motivated -- we were excited and basically knew we were going to go far and we knew it was a special team. But unfortunately, it was just missing that one piece. That one piece was our downfall. So I think we're a lot more aware of that this year than we were last year."
That team also didn't have Hones, who sat out the second half of her freshman season after suffering a torn ACL in the opening minutes of a game against Cal -- a game Stanford lost, ending a six-year winning streak against its Bay Area rival. And it didn't have Pedersen, who arrived this fall as a McDonald's All-American out of Arizona.
Both players were big on the scoreboard Monday night, including 23 points for Hones and a triple-threat line of 15 points, six rebounds and seven assists from Pedersen. And more than simply offensive production, which the Cardinal have often had in abundance, Hones and Pedersen add toughness to the lineup that allows them to go toe-to-toe with physical teams like Rutgers, Tennessee and Maryland and come away with wins.
Getting to the Final Four was tough, but with the right supporting cast, Stanford proved it was tougher.
Defense does it for LSU
Crystal LoGiudice/US Presswire
New Orleans' most outstanding player, Sylvia Fowles, had 21 points and 12 rebounds for her SEC-record 85th career double-double.
Second really is the best in Spokane
By Ted Miller
SPOKANE, Wash. -- Two weeks ago, the NCAA selection committee told Stanford it was second-rate, creating a captivating piece of theater when the Cardinal women were captured on national television with expressions that ranged from hangdog to livid while, on the other side of the split television screen, Maryland wildly celebrated its No. 1 seed.Suffice it to say, the scene was different Monday at the Spokane Arena. What once was No. 2 is now No. 1 in the Spokane Regional. Senior All-American Candice Wiggins bounced back from a poor Sweet 16 performance against Pittsburgh, spinning, stroking and bombing her way to 41 points to lead the Cardinal to an impressive 98-87 victory over a Maryland team that scrapped hard against a seemingly irresistible offensive display. More
Second-chance points to determine Rutgers-UConn third meeting
By Graham Hays
Player of the nightSylvia Fowles posted 21 points and 12 rebounds for her SEC-record 85th career double-double, leading LSU past No. 1 seed North Carolina, 56-50, in New Orleans. But with all due respect to the Lady Tigers' star -- whose team advanced to its fifth consecutive Final Four -- Stanford's Candice Wiggins gets the call. The senior scored 41 points on Monday to lead the Cardinal past Maryland, 98-87, and to its first Final Four since 1997. But Wiggins -- as reported by ESPN researcher Brett Edgerton -- also became the first player to post a pair of 40-point games in the NCAA tournament (she netted 44 points -- the third-best single-game effort in NCAA tournament history -- vs. UTEP in the second round). Even better, Wiggins is the only player to have multiple 40-point performances for her career in the tournament. Only eight other players have scored at least 40 points in an NCAA tournament game, which Wiggins has now done twice in three games. And Candice -- we loved your postgame interview. Don't ever apologize for that unbridled emotion. -- ESPN.com
LSU knocks off No. 1 seed North Carolina
Offensive juggernaut Carolina held to season lowNEW ORLEANS -- North Carolina's 50 points in its loss to LSU on Monday was the fewest the Tar Heels have scored this season -- by far. Their previous low was 71 points against UConn on Jan. 21 -- which also happens to be the last time North Carolina lost before falling in the regional final. "We played like -- excuse my language -- like (expletive) on offense," UNC's Erlana Larkins said, using what little kids sometimes refer to as the "s-word." We can't print it here, but we trust you can guess. "We didn't move the ball like we were supposed to. At times we did a great job getting LaToya [Pringle] the ball inside, but for the most part, we did not move. We stood still." Pringle said, "I agree. It wasn't necessarily their defense. We played against great defense in the ACC, but I just feel like it was us not moving on offense. We didn't move as fluidly as we usually do. I don't know what contributed to that." LSU knew, however. It really was the defense. "I think it's the best we've played all year," LSU's Sylvia Fowles said of her squad's defense. "We were focused and ready for everything they threw at us." And Erica White said, "I think our defense in this game last year was excellent, and this team is a veteran group." She was referring to the effort last season in the Elite Eight, when LSU also held UConn to the same amount of points as it did Carolina on Monday. LSU won that game 73-50, and another thing that was similar was how dominant Fowles was. Against UConn in the Fresno Regional final, she had 23 points, 15 rebounds and six blocked shots. Monday, she had 21 points, 12 rebounds and five blocks. "I thought Sylvia was outstanding," said LSU coach Van Chancellor, whose team committed just 14 turnovers. "She was tremendous on Larkins; she held her to five points. "I told [the players] that if we didn't turn the ball over more than 15 times, that was the first key, because that fuels their offense. And I thought their offensive rebounding did not hurt us."
-- Mechelle Voepel
Candice Wiggins gets emotional over win
A little research goes a long way• Rashanda McCants and Erlana Larkins rank first and third, respectively, for UNC in scoring. But they didn't show it Monday. The two combined for just 14 points on 6-for-24 shooting (25 percent). Larkins (2 of 11) had five points, while McCants added nine. The two were especially ineffective in the second half. Larkins was held scoreless (0-for-7) and McCants scored five points on a pair of late buckets. • Stanford's 98 points against Maryland ties the most points ever allowed by a 1-seed in the NCAA tournament. In another Elite Eight game 20 years ago, second-seeded Long Beach State posted 98 against top-seeded Iowa (which was coached by Rutgers' C. Vivian Stringer). The score was the exact same as Monday's: 98-87. • Stanford's 14 3-pointers against Maryland (14 of 28) were the most ever in any game beyond the second round. It's also tied for the third-most in any tournament game behind Harvard's 16 treys against Vanderbilt in 1996 and Iowa State's 15 3-pointers vs. St. Francis (Pa.) in 2000. • North Carolina was held to fewer than 30 points in a half three times all year -- including twice Monday (21 in the first, 29 in the second). The only other time it happened was in a loss to UConn (27 points in the second half) in January. • For as much as LSU made its matchup with UNC a defensive battle, Stanford and Maryland had no problem generating offense. In the first eight minutes of Spokane's regional final, the Cardinal and Terps combined for as many points (45) as LSU and UNC did in the entire first half of the New Orleans final. • LSU joins Connecticut (2000-04) as the only programs to advance to five consecutive Final Fours. But though the Huskies won three national titles during that stretch, the Lady Tigers haven't made it out of the semifinals. • Stanford's win Monday snapped a six-game losing streak in the Elite 8 for the Pac-10, and sends a conference team to the Final Four for the first time since the Cardinal went in 1997. In fact, this is the first time since '97 that a team west of Austin, Texas, has reached the Final Four.
-- ESPN researcher Brett Edgerton
Monday's Sweet 16 scores• NEW ORLEANS
LSU 56, North Carolina 50 • SPOKANE
Stanford 98, Stanford 87
Cardinal headed to first Final Four in 11 years
On Tap For Tuesday(all times Eastern)
• OKLAHOMA CITY
No. 2 Texas A&M vs. No. 1 Tennessee
(ESPN, 7 p.m.) • GREENSBORO
No. 2 Rutgers vs. No. 1 Connecticut
(ESPN, 9 p.m.)