8:30 PM ET, February 16, 2006
TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) -- Briann January is only a freshman but she sure didn't play like one.January made four free throws and intercepted a pass in the final 32 seconds Thursday night as Arizona State (No. 17 ESPN/USA Today, No. 15 AP) beat Stanford (No. 12 ESPN/USA Today, No. 11 AP) 62-59 to cut the Cardinal's Pac-10 lead to one-half game."She's hit game-winning free throws for us all year," Sun Devils coach Charli Turner Thorne said of January. "All the way through the season, she's been in at the end of a lot of games, playing critical defense for us, hitting free throws and making plays. She's an amazing talent."January said after missing the front end of a one-and-one in the first half, she knew what she had to do."After halftime, that's all I shot when I went out on to the court before the second half started," January said. "I shot free throws because the time might come when I needed to shot some."January's foul shots gave Arizona State its seventh straight win, 20th in a row and set a school record for consecutive conference victories.It also put the Sun Devils (21-5, 12-4 Pac-10) within reach of Stanford (18-6, 12-3) with two games remaining in the regular season."It was a huge game for us," Thorne said. "Obviously, we have to win out to have any chance for regular season championship. It would be a really exciting situation if we don't at least tie it would be very exciting for us to get the No. 2 seed."Stanford's Candice Wiggins and Rosalyn Gold-Onwude both missed 3-point shots in the final 13 seconds as the Cardinal's five-game winning streak ended."In the game, you are looking for the best shot possible," Wiggins said. "If I am the best option than I'll shoot it if Brooke (Smith) is the best option. I think we are really looking to go inside during the last time, but their defense sort of made us quick and rushed so we weren't able to get inside like we wanted to."Smith added 10 points and six rebounds but got her fourth foul with 9:16 left and sat out several minutes.January led Arizona State with 13 points and six assists, while Aubree Johnson added 10 points and seven rebounds.Wiggins, the Pac-10's leading scorer, finished with 28 points -- 17 coming in the second half.Stanford missed nine of 19 free throws on the night and went cold, missing 18 of its last 25 shots from the field."You're not going to win close games if you can't go to the line and knock down free throws," Cardinal coach Tara VanDerveer said. "To me, that was one of the big differences in the game. I think for our team, we had the wrong people shooting the ball. Our shot selection really hurt us."Neither team led by more than six and after the 14:42 mark of the second half, the teams were separated by no more than three until January hit an off-balance 15-footer with 2:06 left to give Arizona State a 56-52 lead.Wiggins hit four straight free throws to get the Cardinal even at 56 with 1:17 left.Arizona State's Amy Denson missed a long shot but Kristen Kovesdy grabbed the rebound and was fouled with 49 seconds remaining. She made two free throws to put the Sun Devils ahead to stay and January sealed the win with her four foul shots.
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