10:00 PM ET, December 28, 2006
STANFORD, Calif. (AP) -- Candice Wiggins is back in the lineup for Stanford (No. 15 ESPN/USA Today; No. 14 AP) and her return comes just in time. With Arizona State (No. 11 ESPN/USA Today; No. 10 AP) coming to town on Saturday, the Cardinal need every available body.Stanford's two-time All-American and Pac-10 Player of the Year, who sat out Stanford's first two conference games of the season due to a hamstring injury, overcame an early shooting slump to finish with 12 points in the Cardinal's 86-58 win over Arizona in the Pac-10 on Thursday night. "It's not about how I'm shooting, it's about our team," said Wiggins, who wore a protective sleeve on her left thigh but otherwise showed no obvious signs of the injury that had ended her streak of 77 consecutive games played. "I feel we're starting to gel. It's a fun feeling." Jayne Appel came off the bench to score a game-high 15 points and Kristen Newlin posted her fourth double-double of the season with 12 points and 11 rebounds for Stanford (8-3, 3-0 Pac-10). Brooke Smith added 12 points and five rebounds for the Cardinal, which won their sixth straight and extended their conference home winning streak to 47 games. Eleven players scored for Stanford as coach Tara VanDerveer emptied her bench late in the second half. "I think this was our best overall total team effort with everyone going in and doing a good job," VanDerveer said. Stanford seemed to feed most off Wiggins, who missed her first seven shots of the game and looked hesitant at times. Though the Cardinal had no problem handling Arizona's zone defense, it wasn't until Wiggins found her touch that things got rolling. The 5-foot-11 junior, who missed her first four 3-point attempts, opened the second half with two 3-pointers in the first minute. She later added another 3 with 14:46 remaining to give the Cardinal a 54-35 lead that was never challenged. "I have a newfound love and respect for basketball after missing it," Wiggins said. "You don't realize what you have until it's gone." Wiggins only played 16 minutes and spent much of the night riding a stationary bicycle. She finished the game just 4 of 12 from the floor, but her presence alone was enough for Stanford. "Candice brings so much to our team, energy, enthusiasm and hustle," VanDerveer said. "I didn't want to play her too much. It was just good for her to get back out there and get in the flow a little bit." The Cardinal have won six straight overall, outscoring their opponents by an average of 24.3 in that stretch. Stanford led 40-26 at halftime and coasted in the second half, leading by as much as 29 points on the way to its seventh consecutive win over the Wildcats. Ashley Whisonant scored 13 points for Arizona (6-8, 0-2). The Wildcats have dropped three straight and five of their last six. "Obviously this wasn't our night," Arizona coach Joan Bonvicini said. "We were put on our heels from the get-go. We had moments but not enough of them." Newlin did most of her damage in the first half, scoring nine points and grabbing eight rebounds while helping Stanford build a 40-26 lead. With Arizona mired in a first-half shooting slump for the second straight game, Stanford easily gained control of the game despite Wiggins' slow start. Not that the Cardinal needed much against the Wildcats. Arizona, which shot just 25.9 percent in the first half of an 89-62 loss to No. 10 Arizona State on Dec. 22, opened the game against Stanford 6-for-22 from the floor and shot 35.5 percent overall in the first half. Arizona made a brief run at the Cardinal, closing within 33-24 on Malia O'Neal layup with 2:11 left, before Stanford closed out the half with a 7-2 run capped by Cissy Pierce's 14-foot jumper at the buzzer made it 40-26.