8:00 PM ET, March 5, 2005
SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) -- For a team that had just won by 41 points, Stanford sure had quite a to-do list.Make smarter decisions. Play with more energy. Be aggressive. Susan King Borchardt scored 14 points to lead second-ranked Stanford to its 18th straight victory, 81-40 over rival California in the quarterfinals of the Pac-10 tournament Saturday. Brooke Smith added 12 points, six rebounds and four assists, and Candice Wiggins had 10 points and eight rebounds for the Cardinal, the two-time defending conference tournament champions who say they need to play a lot better. "Everyone is going to come out and give us their 'A' game," Smith said. "We just need to be aggressive. We were flat and not playing with the energy we had all year." Stanford has been dominating opponents for months, and hopes to be rewarded with a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. The Cardinal were disappointed with their sixth seed a year ago. Stanford seems poised for a deep NCAA Tournament run after falling one shot short of the Final Four against Tennessee in the round of eight last March. The Cardinal (27-2), who will play Sunday against the winner of a late game between Arizona and Southern California, put together yet another lopsided performance -- two days after Wiggins became the first freshman to win Pac-10 Player of the Year honors and Tara VanDerveer was selected Coach of the Year. "I thought it was kind of an up-and-down game, where we did some really nice things and other times we were kind of sloppy," VanDerveer said. "Maybe it's from not playing in a week. When we needed a spark, we got it." Wiggins cut her lip in the opening minute, but didn't require stitches. Jessica Lawson had 10 points and four rebounds for Cal (11-18), which lost its 11th straight to Stanford and 26th in the last 27 meetings in the Bay Area rivalry. The Cardinal won both regular-season games by a combined 76 points. "I think they can win it all," fifth-year Cal coach Caren Horstmeyer said. Stanford used a 22-4 run to take a big lead early, and VanDerveer quickly went to her key reserves. She is trying to expand the number of players she can give consistent minutes as the team heads into the postseason. The Bears, who advanced to Saturday's game with a 70-52 win over Washington State on Friday, went on a 9-0 run spanning both halves, but the Cardinal answered with a 21-4 spurt. "I thought our defense was pretty good," Horstmeyer said. "This is by far the best we've played them." VanDerveer has called this a "wow" season for her squad, and said it's one of the most special teams in her 19 years at the school. Stanford completed its first unbeaten season at home since 1996-97, the last season it reached the Final Four. The Cardinal have won 37 straight Pac-10 home games, and their average margin of victory in conference play this season was 24.9 points. But they shot only 48.3 percent Saturday. Horstmeyer's job security is in doubt. She will meet with new athletic director Sandy Barbour next week to determine the program's future. Barbour said after the game she has been impressed with Horstmeyer and her staff, but that Cal needs to "show some improvement" in the win-loss column. When asked whether she thinks she'll be back next season, Horstmeyer said: "Well, I've got another year on my contract. ... I think we've done a lot of positive things. I've always been confident in what I do." The Bears won only three of their final 17 games. The Cardinal are playing without senior T'Nae Thiel, who has a partial fracture in her left foot. She's expected back in time for the team's first NCAA Tournament game March 19 or 20.
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