10:00 PM ET, November 21, 2006
STANFORD, Calif. (AP) -- Stanford is playing well in stretches and struggling at times, too.With all of the young players in the mix, coach Tara VanDerveer expects it. Yet with two talented opponents next up for the Cardinal, consistency is going to be paramount.Candice Wiggins scored 21 points and No. 11 Stanford kicked off the toughest week of its schedule with a 75-60 victory over previously unbeaten Missouri on Tuesday night.Kristen Newlin added 14 points and 10 rebounds and Brooke Smith had 14 points and six boards for the Cardinal (2-1), who were back to their usual focused selves on their home floor in Maples Pavilion. Now they hit the road for back-to-back games against top 10 teams.First up is No. 4 Tennessee in Knoxville on Friday, followed by a road date with eighth-ranked Georgia on Sunday. Pat Summitt's Lady Vols have won the last 10 meetings in the series with Stanford, which began in 1988."I just think it's going to be a lot more aggressive than what was allowed tonight," VanDerveer said of the next two games. "We didn't really get our rhythm going the way we wanted. ... I really think we need the upperclassmen to set an example of how we play for our freshmen and show good shot selection and play with great poise."Alyssa Hollins scored 14 points, Jessra Johnson 12 and Tiffany Brooks 11 for a physical Missouri team (3-1), which saw the momentum turn in Stanford's favor when the Tigers lost their composure late in the first half.Jillian Harmon's three-point play 4:31 before halftime ignited a 15-2 run by Stanford to end the first half, making it 39-22 Cardinal at the break. Before Harmon hit her free throw, Brooks pushed Wiggins and then came back and grabbed at Wiggins' throat but nothing was called -- drawing loud boos from the crowd."After all that madness that happened in the first half we were able to pull away," Wiggins said. "I tried to just kind of play my game and the coaches were like, 'just relax."The stretch also included a technical on Hollins at 4:06 for arguing with the officials."I think we lost our composure at that time," Missouri coach Cindy Stein said. "There was a three or four minute stretch where we lost our composure. It got a little messy when both teams were trying to huddle. They might be used to those type of stressful situations. Our kids are learning. That technical was a huge call and changed the whole course of the game. We've got to react better to that."Newlin converted a three-point play after a putback with 16:03 left that was part of a 13-3 run by Stanford after halftime. Stanford attempted only six 3s and made one but hit 16 of 18 free throws.Last season, Tennessee ended Stanford's 23-game home winning streak with a 74-67 win. Newlin had a career-high 20 points and 10 rebounds."Just playing Tennessee in general is really exciting," Newlin said. "The coaches remind me how I can play against big teams like that."The Cardinal dropped seven spots in the poll after losing 55-52 at home Nov. 13 to No. 22 BYU in the second round of the WNIT. Wiggins, the two-time reigning Pac-10 player of the year, matched her career low with seven points and missed a layin in the waning seconds against BYU.So, Stanford hit the practice floor hard instead of traveling as it had expected to do for the tournament's next round."For our team it's been a long week of practice," VanDerveer said. "I did see an improvement."Missouri, which began the season with three straight double-digit victories and had four players averaging 10 or more points, shot 8-for-20 on 3-pointers and 32 percent from the field.The Cardinal attacked Mizzou's 2-3 zone and pounded the ball inside to Newlin and Smith. The Tigers switched to a man-to-man defense and Stanford briefly had a tougher time finding open shots.Freshman guard JJ Hones drew a charge in the early minutes of her first career start for Stanford. With Hones in the game and able to run the point, it allows Wiggins more chances to penetrate and look for her shot.The Cardinal, who made five of their first eight shots for an early 10-2 lead, are 4-1 against the Tigers. The teams last met on Dec. 18, 2004.
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