Both teams started the game offensively in sync and Stanford built an early 9-8 lead in the first four minutes. Stanford then used a 13-0 run to distance themselves from the Bears and would increase their 14-point margin to a 41-20 halftime lead. On the half, Stanford shot 56% from the field (14-25) and 45.5% (5-11) beyond the arc, led by Brooke Smith's eight points on 4-of-5 shooting and Susan Borchardt's 2-4 beyond the arc. Stanford has won each of their 29 first halves by an average of nearly 15 points, and have led by double digits at each of their last seven halftimes, in a streak dating back an entire month. California didn't help their case in the first stanza, shooting 0-of-8 beyond the arc in what would be their last game of the season.
Cal came out of the locker room with intensity, however, cutting the 21-point halftime lead to 14 with a 7-0 run in the first two minutes of the half. 14 would be as close as Cal came though, as Stanford responded with a 15-0 run of their own and cruised to the 81-40 final margin. In many ways, the second half neatly mirrored the first as Stanford won the second half 40-20, nearly identical to the 41-20 first half margin, and Cal shot 1-of-11 on three-pointers in the second half, combining with the 0-of-8 first half for a total 5.3% (1-of-19) accuracy.
On the game, five Cardinal – redshirt sophomore center Brooke Smith (12 points, six rebounds and four assists), sophomore center Kristen Newlin (11 points), freshman guard Candice Wiggins (10 points, eight rebounds and four assists), fifth-year senior guard Susan King Borchardt (14 points, 4-of-7 three-pointers) and senior Azella Perryman (10 points) reached double digits. Nine Cardinal saw double-digit minutes, with no Cardinal reaching 30 minutes of playing time, important because Pac-10 Tournament play will see the Cardinal playing three games in three days.
While Cal didn't shoot three-pointers quite as poorly in their two previous meetings with the Card, the overall flow of each of the three games was similarly lopsided. Stanford swept the three-game series by an average of 87-48, nearly a 40-point margin. Brooke Smith tore up the Bears inside, finishing the season series 25-of-29 from the field. Candice Wiggins and Susan King Borchardt also flourished against the Bears. Wiggins scored 52 points on 18-of-28 shooting and 12-of-15 free throws, and her backcourt teammate Borchardt poured in 33 on 13-of-21 shooting. Defensively, the Cardinal held the Bears to 28% shooting (49-of-175) and yielded forward Kiki Williams only 15 points and 20.6% accuracy (6-of-29) in 67 minutes across the three contests.
In a streak spanning all of 2005, Stanford now has won 18 straight, with an average margin of victory of 24.6 points. In that streak, Stanford is shooting 50.4% (525-of-1041) overall, and an even more astronomical 51.9% (473-of-912) in their last sixteen. Only eight victories now separate the Cardinal from chopping down the nets in Indianapolis – two more in San Jose, two in the opening round of the NCAA (probably in Fresno, possibly in Seattle), two in the Sweet 16/Elite Eight round (probably in Tucson, perhaps in Kansas City) and two in the Final Four in Indianapolis.
The Cardinal will look to push their winning streak to 19 game Sunday at 3pm against USC. If the Cardinal beat the Trojans in the Pac-10 tournament semifinal, they will face the victor of the Arizona State/Oregon tilt Monday at 7:30 PM. While forward T'Nae Thiel will not return for either of these matchups, the coaching staff continues to express confidence the senior forward from Texas will be healthy by March 19, the start of the NCAA Tournament.
Daniel Novinson is a freshman at Stanford University. He's broadcasting women's basketball on KZSU - listen along at kzsu.org or 90.1 FM. Daniel welcomes any feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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