Stanford 88

(26-7, 15-3 Pac-12)

Oklahoma 74

(31-5, 16-0 Big 12)

    2:30 PM ET, March 25, 2006

    AT&T Center, San Antonio, Texas

    1 2 T
    STAN 43 4588
    OKLA 32 4274

    Top Performers

    Stanford: B. Smith 35 Pts, 6 Reb

    Oklahoma: C. Paris 26 Pts, 16 Reb

    Stanford's big early lead holds up for rout of Sooners

    SAN ANTONIO (AP) -- Courtney Paris was double-covered all the time during Oklahoma's 19-game winning streak. Triple- and quadruple-teamed, too.

    Only Stanford was good enough to make it work.

    With Kristen Newlin and a rotation of teammates swarming the bulky freshman, Brooke Smith rose to the challenge of being the best center on the court, making 14 of 16 shots and scoring a career-high 35 points to lead the Cardinal past the Sooners 88-74 Saturday in the semifinals of the San Antonio Regional.

    "I cannot think of one post player in the country I'd rather have on my team than Brooke," Stanford guard Candice Wiggins said. "I'm just really happy that the whole nation could see what we see in practice every day and what a great player she is."

    Paris is, too, a 6-foot-4, 220-pound force who came in already having set more than three dozen records this season. She left with a handful more -- most significantly the NCAA's single-season rebounding mark -- but most of her 26 points and 16 rebounds came long after No. 2 seed Oklahoma (31-5) absorbed what coach Sherri Coale called "a sucker punch that knocked us dizzy a little bit."

    The third-seeded Cardinal (26-7) made eight of their first nine shots, including three 3-pointers. They led 19-4 before the game was five minutes old.

    Newlin anchored the defense against Paris, getting help from a different teammate practically every possession. Regardless of whether it was the 5-11 Wiggins or the 6-3 Smith, they forced Paris into mistake after mistake.

    She had only eight points at halftime with as many turnovers (four) as field goals. Besides errant passes, she traveled and was called for a 5-second violation.

    "I was double-teamed a lot this season," Paris said. "It was nothing new. I won't use that as an excuse."

    Smith, meanwhile, could do no wrong.

    Showing off a variety of hooks, fadeaway jumpers and other moves, she had the game of her life to send Stanford into the regional finals for a third straight year and 11th overall The Cardinal will play top-seeded LSU on Monday night, with the winner going to the Final Four.

    "My teammates did a great job of finding me when I was open and my shots were dropping," said Smith, whose previous best of 26 came in a loss to UCLA in January.

    Smith missed only one shot in each half. She also had seven rebounds, four assists and three steals. Alas, she turned the ball over a team-high five times and was "only" 7-for-9 from the foul line.

    "She's amazing," said Paris, who is from the San Francisco Bay area. She said Friday that she grew up hoping to become as good as Smith.

    Wiggins shot only 6-for-22, but hit 12 free throws to score 26 points. She also kept her teammates going when their 19-point lead shrunk to 68-62 with 7:56 left, telling them to avoid the mistakes that let them blow a nine-point lead in the final three minutes of the Pac-10 tournament final against UCLA.

    Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer called a timeout after the Sooners got that close and -- surprise! -- told her players to get the ball to Smith. They did and she hit a turnaround jumper in the lane to start rebuilding the lead.

    Later, Paris was called for a charge on a play where she hit a basket. Instead of a three-point play that could've cut the margin to six again, Stanford got the ball and Wiggins made a 3-pointer. The lead grew to 14 with 3:28 left, and hit 14 again in the final minute.

    Wiggins ended up dribbling out the clock flashing her trademark wide smile. Smith was grinning too, then slapped high-five with Newlin near midcourt. Wiggins threw up the ball as the buzzer expired, joining her teammates in a group hug.

    The Sooners, whose season also ended with a tournament loss to Stanford two years ago, watched from in front of their bench -- except for Paris, whose back was turned, mainly to hide her tears. Once she wiped them away, she lined up for the postgame handshake. She cried again during a news conference while talking about having to go on without this year's two seniors.

    "I hope it's no secret that Oklahoma women's basketball will be back," Paris said, "and next time we'll go farther."

    Stanford's Krista Rappahahn scored 15 points, all on 3-pointers, four in the first half. Newlin had two points and eight rebounds, but covered Paris so intensely that she got a technical for ripping the ball away from her when they got tied up late in the second half.

    Britney Brown had 18 points and six assists for Oklahoma. Leah Rush scored 12. Erin Higgins, the team's top 3-point shooter, was 3-of-7 and badly missed both her attempts from behind the arc.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 88 74
    FG Made-Attempted 30-66 (.455) 29-67 (.433)
    3P Made-Attempted 9-24 (.375) 5-19 (.263)
    FT Made-Attempted 19-23 (.826) 11-16 (.688)
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 9 (0/0) 19 (0/0)
    Largest Lead 19 0

    Game Leaders

    PointsB. Smith 35C. Paris 26
    ReboundsC. Wiggins 7C. Paris 16


    » Mar 25, 2006 STAN 88, @OKLA 74Recap | Box Score