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Cardinal improve to 20-3 in NCAA games played on home floor

STANFORD, Calif. -- Stanford's Brooke Smith is already beginning to get sentimental about her final game in Maples Pavilion on Monday.

No wonder: She sure is in her element at home.

The Cardinal protected their home floor in impressive fashion -- and didn't even need a huge day from star Candice Wiggins.

Smith and Cissy Pierce took care of that.

Smith made her first 10 shots on the way to a season-high 29 points, Pierce hit two early 3-pointers, and second-seeded Stanford breezed into the second round of the NCAA Tournament with a 96-58 victory over Idaho State on Saturday.

Smith and Pierce immediately took the pressure off Wiggins, scoring their team's first 22 points to help the Cardinal (29-4) jump to a big first-half lead they never relinquished and set up a second-round date in the Fresno Regional with Florida State for the second straight March.

"We wanted to come out with energy and pick up where we left off," Smith said. "We were so excited to play. ... It's so much fun to run out here and hear the fans."

Wiggins still finished with 16 points, five rebounds, three assists and a steal, and Smith shot 13-for-17 and also had nine rebounds, three assists and two steals.

"I have faith in Cissy -- she made some great shots today and had a great game," Wiggins said. "In terms of Brooke, she's always been great."

The Cardinal, who beat the Seminoles 88-70 in the 2006 second round, thrived in the familiar confines of Maples Pavilion with a loud, pro-Stanford crowd on their side that makes playing on The Farm so difficult for visiting teams. Stanford improved to 20-3 in NCAA games played on campus.

Pierce finished with 14 points after making her first four shots in the Cardinal's 10th straight victory, while Smith didn't miss until trying a 3 from the top of the arc with 16:52 remaining. Stanford showed no signs of rust in its first game since winning the Pac-10 tournament March 5.

"I was thinking: That's my worst nightmare. We were trying to take the inside game away, and someone who hadn't shot the ball very well is knocking shots down," Idaho State coach Jon Newlee said of Pierce. "Our game plan was to make them shoot 3s, and we got away from that."

Natalie Doma scored 32 points on 12-for-25 shooting, making 6 of 13 shots in the opening 20 minutes while the rest of her teammates went 4-for-22 -- and the 15th-seeded Bengals (17-14) couldn't recover after falling into a big hole. Doma, a 6-foot-3 junior center, scored in double digits for her 47th straight game.

"It's never easy playing away, especially in Stanford's home gym with all their fans cheering," Doma said. "It was tough, I'm not going to lie."

Stanford, coming off its school-record seventh straight Pac-10 title, won its NCAA opener for the ninth straight year since the Cardinal were a top seed in 1998 and got shocked 71-67 at home by 16th-seeded Harvard.

Now, Stanford plays again Monday hoping to avoid what happened here four years ago: a heartbreaking second-round loss to Minnesota that kept the Cardinal from playing in the regional they hosted the next week.

Stanford used a 21-2 run midway through the first half to build a 39-16 lead and shot 54 percent in the first half for a 45-24 lead at the break. The Cardinal's accuracy early frustrated the Bengals, whose zone defense could not keep up on the perimeter or in the paint.

"They were sagging off and I got to the soft spot in their zone," Pierce said. "I felt wide open."

Wiggins, the junior two-time Pac-10 player of the year who Newlee called the "best guard in America," missed her first three shots before hitting the first of her four 3-pointers at the 6:36 mark of the first half -- then she had another basket the next time down.

Wiggins returned from a two-game absence with a hamstring injury to score 65 points and shoot 14-for-25 on 3-pointers in Stanford's three wins in the Pac-10 tournament, including a career-best and tournament-record eight 3s in a semifinal win against Southern California.

But it was Smith -- a senior transfer from Duke who returned to play for Stanford close to her family in nearby Marin County -- who starred in this one.

Jeni Boesel, the lone senior for Big Sky champion Idaho State, was held to nine points on 3-for-11 shooting (1-of-6 on 3s) in her final college game. No. 15 seeds are 0-53 all-time in the tournament and the Bengals fell to 2-19 against the Pac-10.

Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer said her team's strong defense led to a great day on the other end. The Cardinal shot 55 percent.

"What we didn't want to do was be frantic on the outside and just be shooting away," she said. "It was a great start. We wanted to jump right on them, and we did."