NCAA First Round Quotes & Notes

The offense was not quite firing on all cylinders for Stanford Saturday night in their NCAA opener, yet their stifling defense held Southeast Missouri State in check for long stretches and nearly a Tournament record. The 72-45 win included some encouraging flashes in Denver, most notably from a hometown girl who had one of her best games of the year. Here are quotes and notes from both teams.

Stanford head coach Tara VanDerveer

Opening statement:

"It was great for us to win our first game in the NCAA Tournament because if you don't, they're none after that.  With our team not playing a game for a while, I don't think we were particularly sharp.  Credit to Southeast Missouri - they came out very aggressive and played very hard.  We got some good help off the bench.  We had a lot of different people contribute, and I'm really excited about that."

On guard Cissy Pierce's motivation playing at home in Denver:

"I talked to Cissy before the game and was very specific in what I needed her to do.  We needed her to work hard defensively, take care of the ball and have good shot selection.  Sometimes for Cissy less is more, and with her coming home to Denver, her initial reaction was being really excited.  She felt some pressure coming home, playing in front of friends and family.  But I told her that she's been doing well in practice, and all she had to do was apply it in the game.  And I think she did an excellent job of that tonight."

On her disappointment with Stanford's offensive execution:

"That did have me ballistic.  There were some times that I wondered what we were doing, and who this team was in the Stanford uniform.  But I think the bench took some pressure off Candice [Wiggins] and Brooke [Smith].  Southeast Missouri State did a great job scouting us, and tomorrow we will go back to the drawing board to make the necessary adjustments."

Sophomore guard Candice Wiggins

On scoring runs that occurred in both first and second half:

"I think it was natural at the start that it would take a while to shake off the nerves...  We played in the flow of the game.  It was a part of being competitive."

On Littelton (Colo.) native Cissy Pierce, who scored 10 points - seven above her season average:

"She was really excited about coming home this week.  Hopefully she will keep it going."

Redshirt junior center Brooke Smith

On Southeast Missouri State center Tatiana Conceicao, who was 1-of-14 shooting:

"We had a couple of different people on her.  I thought we forced her to take tougher shots that she would have liked.  We did not want her to get any easy baskets."

On playing in the Pepsi Center:

"We played in the HP Pavilion last week, so I thought that prepared us for the difference in playing in an arena as opposed to a gym."

Southeast Missouri State head coach  B.J. Smith

Opening statement:

"Stanford played really well defensively and took us out of our game.  Good luck to them."

On their offensive performance:

"They kept us away from the basket.  They did a great job defensively.  The two weeks off really hurt us.  We didn't execute well."

On Stanford's size:

"Their size bothered us a bit offensively.  I thought we played well enough defensively to win the game, but we just didn't make our shots."

On guarding Candice Wiggins:

"She hurt on the dribble drive.  She doesn't have any weaknesses."

On the Redhawks' season:

"This was a great year for us.  Hopefully it's the beginning.  Hopefully we learned from this experience, and we'll build on this for the future."

Senior center Tatiana Conceicao

On scoring problems:

"I had a tough time scoring today.  They were really tall.  They blocked my shot.  They really had the advantage tonight.  We came back better in the second half.  We couldn't hold them off. "

On senior reflections:

"We had a great season.  It doesn't feel like a disappointment at all.  We are not ashamed.  We are proud of what we did this year."

Senior forward Natalie Purcell

On Stanford's defense:

"They really came to play.  They crashed the boards.  We thought that they would play more man-to-man, but they also played some zone.  But it was nothing out of ordinary.  There was nothing that we weren't expecting."

  • #3 seeds are 48-0 against #14 seeds since the NCAA Tournament bracket expanded to 64 teams in 1994.
  • Stanford is one of a record six Pac-10 teams to make the NCAA Tournament this year, with the conference holding at a perfect 3-0 on the first day of action.  Arizona State handled Stephen F. Austin 80-61, while Washington edged Minnesota 73-69.
  • The Cardinal will Monday play #6 seed Florida State, who defeated #11 seed Louisiana Tech 80-71.  The Seminoles are one of seven ACC teams in the Tournament, which outpaces the Pac-10 in an absolute number but trails as a percentage.  The ACC is currently a 12-member league.
  • Florida State is 1-4 all-time against the Pac-10, and this year they lost at home to Washington.  The Seminoles' lone win over the Pac-10 came against Stanford back in 1984 in a neutral-site game played in Miami (Fla.).
  • Stanford is seeded #3 in the NCAA Tournament for just the second time.  Their previous experience came three years ago, when the Cardinal had the good fortune of playing their first and second round games at Maples Pavilion.  They were, however. upset in the second round by #6-seeded Minnesota as one of three #3 seeds to lose that day.
  • Stanford's 27-point margin of victory Saturday was the largest of the first day of the NCAA Tournament.  That is surprising, considering that two #1 seeds played #16 seeds on the day.  North Carolina beat UC Riverside by 26 points, and LSU beat Florida Atlantic by 24 points.
  • Southeast Missouri State came into the game averaging 71.8 points per game and were one of the best scoring teams in the nation.  They were held by Stanford to 45 points, their season low.  The Redhawks were able to shoot just 21.1% from the field, well below their previous low of 31.5% (vs. Tennessee-Martin on February 18).  That defensive field goal percentage for Stanford ties for fifth best in the history of first and second round games in the NCAA Tournament.  The best mark came when Connecticut held Long Island University to 15.4% in 2001.  Speaking of the Blackbirds, they also hold the infamous mantle of the lowest field goal percentage against Stanford this year - LIU hit for 17.5% back on November 19.
  • Stanford held Southeast Missouri State without a field goal for a span of 13 minutes in the second half, on top of a stretch of six-plus minutes of no field goals to close the first half.  The Cardinal nearly matched an NCAA Tournament record in field goals allowed (10), until the Redhawks hit their 11th basket inside the final two minutes.  Southeast Missouri State added another field goal in the final minute to reach a total of 12 for the game.  They scored just six field goals in each half.
  • Stanford is now 15-0 when holding opponents to 60 or fewer points this year.
  • Stanford came into the NCAA Tournament as one of the best three-point shooting teams in the nation.  They ranked #3 in the country at 40.0% shooting and #13 with 7.2 made per game.  The Cardinal were a meager 2-of-11 Saturday night for 18.2%.  Their top three-point shooter, senior guard Krista Rappahahn, played only 12 minutes with some foul trouble in the runaway win and failed to attempt any attempt from the field.  This was the first of 31 games this year where Rappahahn did not attempt a three-point field goal.
  • Candice Wiggins scored an efficient 21 points in 21 minutes tonight.  That marked her 33rd consecutive game scoring in double-figures.  She last failed to reach double digits in scoring in the second round of last year's NCAA Tournament, when she notched a quiet eight points in the win over Utah.  Wiggins is currently averaging 21.2 points per game, ninth best in the nation.  She has scored over 20 points in seven of her last nine games.
  • Cissy Pierce had quite a homecoming Saturday night, playing 26 minutes and scoring 10 points.  Her playing time was the most since Stanford's second game of the year, when she logged 27 minutes at Minnesota back on November 20.  Her 10 points tripled her season average (3.5 ppg) and was her first time in double figures since the December 17 game against Rice.  Pierce also dished four of Stanford's seven assists on the evening, a rare bright spot in a game where the Cardinal did a poor job taking care of the ball and executing its offense.
  • Brooke Smith followed up her toughness pledge with a strong game inside, scoring 14 points and pulling down nine rebounds.  She also blocked three shots.  Interior defense, led by Smith and Kristen Newlin, gave the Redhawks headaches all night.

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