8:00 PM ET, December 30, 2006
STANFORD, Calif. (AP) -- Candice Wiggins wanted the ball in her hands -- and in Brooke Smith's hands down low.Stanford's two most reliable players carried the Cardinal to their biggest win yet.Wiggins scored 19 of her 21 points in the second half and Stanford (No. 15 ESPN/USA Today; No. 14 AP) won its 48th straight Pac-10 home game, earning a hard-fought 77-71 victory over Arizona State (No. 11 ESPN/USA Today; No. 10 AP) on Saturday night.Smith hit a pair of free throws with 21 seconds left and Arizona State's Jill Noe missed a 3-pointer on the other end that would have tied it.Smith made another free throw at 12.3 seconds and two more with 4.2 left to finish with 19 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists in the Cardinal's 23rd straight victory against the Sun Devils at Maples Pavilion, a streak spanning more than two decades."It's huge," Wiggins said. "We have a lot to prove. We know we're a good team and know how special this situation is. We have to prove that. We can't just say we're a special team. ... It's great to go into the new year with this kind of morale on our team."Stanford (9-3, 4-0), which has long believed it has Final Four talent on this roster, avoided losing twice at home in the same season for the first time since 2000-01, getting a lift from the largest crowd of the season at 3,607. The Cardinal lost to BYU on Nov. 13.Freshman Jayne Appel scored 16 points, hitting several key baskets in crunch time, and grabbed seven rebounds in Stanford's seventh straight win overall -- which also snapped Arizona State's eight-game winning streak."We wanted to keep the streak going. We accepted the challenge," Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer said. "In the second half, our big-time players came out and showed why they are big-time players. ... Candice hit some big 3s."The Sun Devils (12-2, 2-1) got the ball back with 29 seconds to go and took it the length of the floor, with Dymond Simon scoring at 22.4 to pull her team to 72-71. Arizona State hasn't won at Maples Pavilion since March 3, 1984, and is 1-25 at Stanford overall.Kirsten Thompson scored 17 points and Noe, who came in with the best 3-point percentage in the Pac-10 at 54.8, added 12 points and six rebounds. Both Noe and Aubree Johnson missed key free throws in the final 1:33.Stanford opened the second half with a 17-3 run to take a 45-37 lead, getting back-to-back 3-pointers, a jumper and another 3 from Wiggins -- who made five 3s -- and four points by Smith during the spurt. The Cardinal hit seven of their first eight field goals in the half, while Arizona State missed five of its first six."There were many different momentum shifts the entire game and that was one of them," Arizona State's Emily Westerberg said. "You can win the game in the first five minutes of the second half. We did a poor job defensively."The physical game featured plenty of pushing beneath the basket by both teams, 13 lead changes and 14 ties.VanDerveer received a technical foul after coming onto the floor with 5:06 before halftime following a hard foul by Westerberg that sent Smith to the floor after the ASU senior missed a shot.It was VanDerveer's first technical since Jan. 25, 2001, in a 76-68 home win against Washington."I don't remember deserving that one, either," she said. "I apologized to our team at halftime. I don't think that's fair to our team when you're talking about a one- or two-point game."The Sun Devils, who needed a big second half to win at No. 18 California, were outrebounded 41-36 and allowed Stanford to shoot 56 percent in the second half.These two schools along with Washington, which hosts UCLA on Sunday, were the only remaining unbeaten teams in the conference."I'm extremely disappointed we couldn't get a stop. We need to be much tougher," Arizona State coach Charli Turner Thorne said. "This is our second close game of the year. I don't think we fell apart by any stretch."Wiggins, the two-time defending Pac-10 Player of the Year playing in her second game back after missing two contests with a hamstring injury, went 0-for-4 in the first half under constant pressure from Briann January and had two fouls.The Cardinal began the game 8-for-21 with four turnovers to Arizona State's 11-of-23, but Stanford was in the bonus for free throws over the final 7:02 of the first half.Stanford went nearly seven minutes without a field goal late in the half between baskets by Appel but made all eight of its free throws to stay within seven at 35-28 at the break. The officials were booed loudly as they left at intermission.Arizona State also made all eight of its free throws in the opening 20 minutes.
Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press
Team Stat Comparison
|FG Made-Attempted||25-67 (.373)||28-62 (.452)|
|3P Made-Attempted||1-14 (.071)||5-10 (.500)|
|FT Made-Attempted||20-23 (.870)||16-21 (.762)|
|Fouls (Tech/Flagrant)||22 (0/0)||17 (0/0)|