4:00 PM ET, February 18, 2006
TUCSON, Ariz. -- Stanford put a serious damper on Senior Night on Saturday in Tucson, Ariz.The Cardinal (No. 11 ESPN/USA Today, No. 12 AP) rebounded from an agonizing loss at No. 15 Arizona State by downing free-falling Arizona 87-76, handing the Wildcats their eighth straight loss.Stanford (19-6, 14-3) remains in first place in the Pac-10 with only a trip to the Washington schools left in the regular season."We needed to come back and play well after that one," Stanford Coach Tara VanDerveer said of the Cardinal's loss in Tempe. "In the second half, we started to get things together."Arizona (7-20, 3-13) didn't look like a team in the midst of a huge losing streak early on as the Wildcats stayed hot from long-range, knocking down eight of 16 3-pointers in the first half.With 4:54 left in the opening period, Arizona forward Joy Hollingsworth drained one of those long-range treys to give the Wildcats a 34-33 lead."It's been an impossible situation for that team all year, but we knew that, this being their last game on this floor, they were going to come out and give us all we could handle," VanDerveer said. "And they did."But behind 18 first-half points from standout shooting guard Candice Wiggins, the Cardinal snared back the lead, taking a 43-40 advantage into the half.The hulking Stanford front line slowly started to exert control in the second half.An Arizona turnover with 14:20 left led to an easy fast-break layup for forward Jillian Harmon, giving Stanford a 55-49 lead.After a defensive stop, the Cardinal went back down low, feeding power forward Brooke Smith for a close-range basket, and a 57-49 lead.Smith then reeled off a 7-0 run of her own to put Stanford firmly in control, as the lead flared to double digits at 62-51. Smith totaled 22 for the game, 15 in the second half and all from inside the paint."I was just taking what the defense was giving me," Smith said. "In the second half, I was finding some space and getting up good shots."Arizona tried to respond to the Cardinal size with speed, slicing the lead to 79-72 with 1:48 showing in regulation behind a Natalie Jones jumper, beating Stanford down-and-around the court.Jones, in her final home game, did all she could to keep the score close, racking up a game-high 27 points, 17 in the second half."We wanted to play as hard as we could and put it all on the line, for us" Arizona coach Joan Bonvicini said.But the Cardinal refused to let it get any closer, closing out the Wildcats with shutdown defense, stretching the lead back to double-figures in the final minute.Wiggins entered the game as the ninth-leading scorer in the country, averaging 21 points per game, and finished Saturday afternoon with 24.Four players scored in double-digits for the Cardinal.Arizona finishes Pac-10 play at Arizona State next Saturday.
Arizona's three seniors -- Jones, Anna Chappell and Phakisha Peterson -- were honored after game. ... The jersey of Shawntinice "Polkey" Polk, the Arizona center who died suddenly before the year began, was retired after the game.
Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press