Stanford's Wiggins hits 2 pressure throws in clutch to clip Rutgers

PISCATAWAY, N.J. (AP) -- Candice Wiggins had seen the moment before.

Wiggins and her Stanford teammates were watching last season as Duke senior Lindsey Harding went to the free throw line with a
tenth of a second left. Harding missed both shots and Rutgers upset
the top-ranked Blue Devils and advanced to the NCAA tournament
regional final.

At the line with a tenth of a second left Sunday night, the preseason All-American was determined to avoid that same fate.

She did.

Wiggins made her free throws to lift Stanford (No 8 USA Today/ESPN, No. 7 AP) to a 60-58 victory over No. 3 Rutgers.

"We watched the game and saw the clips," Wiggins said. "I'm friends with Lindsey and felt for her."

With the game tied at 58, Essence Carson missed a 3-pointer with five seconds left. Stanford grabbed the rebound and the ball ended up in Wiggins' hand. Epiphanny Prince reached at her 80 feet from the basket, sending Wiggins to the foul line.

Wiggins confidently hit both shots.

"Every time I take free throws in practice, I try to simulate it's a game," she said. "I love to know if the game is on the line for free throws, I know we are going to win the game because I put that pressure on myself."

The scene was all too familiar to Rutgers coach C. Vivian Stringer, who didn't want to discuss whether the play was a foul or not.

"It is what it is," Stringer said. "It was kinda prophetic. Same as the girl from Duke. The odds of something like that happening are slim to none. Especially in our home building."

Wiggins finished with 19 points. Jayne Appel had 18 points and 13 rebounds for Stanford (2-0). Kayla Pedersen added 15 points and 16 rebounds for the Cardinal, who outrebounded Rutgers 50-32.

Prince led Rutgers (0-1) with 21 points and nine rebounds and had no excuse for the foul.

"I just didn't think about what I was doing at the time," the sophomore said. "I shouldn't have played her that aggressive so far away from the basket with so little time left in the game."

Carson added 15 points and 10 rebounds.

With the game tied and 1:03 left, Matee Ajavon scored a fast-break layup to give Rutgers a 58-56 lead. After a timeout, Melanie Murphy missed a 3-pointer for Stanford, but Appel put back the follow to tie it.

Rutgers entered the season coming off the most successful year in school history. The Scarlet Knights made a remarkable run to the NCAA championship game before falling to Tennessee.

There were reminders everywhere of last season's success. Hanging in the rafters was the national finalist banner and before the game the Scarlet Knights received their Final Four rings.

The Scarlet Knights also seemed to have moved past the controversy created days after the championship game when radio host Don Imus made a racist and sexist remark about the Rutgers women. The insult triggering a national debate about public speech and civility.

Kia Vaughn, who became the face for the Scarlet Knights when she filed and then later dropped a lawsuit against Imus, had a rough offensive first game. She didn't score until hitting a free throw with 13:51 left in the game. Despite only scoring four points, she was a force on the defensive end blocking eight shots.

"Kia didn't have her best performance," Stringer said. "I don't think she was aggressive as she had to be."

Offense was at a premium as both teams struggled in the second half.

Leading 37-36 at the half, the Scarlet Knights missed their first nine shots before Prince hit a floater in the lane with 14:24 left. Stanford wasn't much better, as only Appel was able to score. She had the Cardinal's first eight points in the second half, and her putback gave Stanford a 44-42 lead.

Carson hit a 3-pointer to restore Rutgers' lead. The teams combined for just 15 points over the next 9 minutes, missing open jumpers and turning the ball over.

With Rutgers clinging to a one-point lead, Wiggins hit a jumper from the elbow as the shotclock expired to give Stanford a 54-53 lead with 3:08 left.

Prince responded with a 3-pointer from the corner.

Wiggins hit two free throws to tie the game at 56 and set up the exciting finish.

Trailing 24-20 midway through the first half, Prince led a 10-2 run to give Rutgers a 30-26 lead with 3:59 left. Prince had five of her 13 first-half points during the spurt.

The Cardinal were missing sophomore Michelle Harrison, who injured her knee in Friday's 100-44 victory over Yale. She was on crutches and will be re-evaluated when Stanford returns home.