Cardinal overcome nine-minute scoring drought

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Candice Wiggins is adapting to college basketball quickly.

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

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

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

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

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

"She's really a phenom. I think a lot of it really is her competitive desire," Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer said. "She has great poise. She's something. 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 when Borchardt returns from a foot injury.

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

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

Kim Smith led Utah with 15 points and nine rebounds. Lana Sitterud, Utah's only 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 in that. That kind of stalled us out offensively," Utah coach Elaine Elliott said.

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

Utah scored the final five points of the first half, ending it with a layup by Sitterud just before the buzzer, and then scored the first 10 in the second to take a 36-30 lead.

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

Cissy Pierce's jumper with 4:41 remaining in the first half put Stanford up 28-19 -- the Cardinal's largest lead -- but it marked the last points for Stanford 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 the Cardinal responded with a 7-0 run started by Wiggins' 3-pointer.

"It was a really disappointing loss because we could have had it. We were right there," Smith said.