Deja Vu Wiggins

What we saw Sunday night in San Jose from junior Candice Wiggins in the Pac-10 Tournament semifinal was special. The funny thing is that it is something we have seen before, though the parallel performance may have slipped your memory. Statistical oddities aside, the explosion from Wiggins against USC was one to remember.

It was a do or die tournament game for the Stanford Women's Basketball team.  All-American Candice Wiggins took over the game in a memorable and classic performance.  She scored 29 points in 27 minutes, made all but one of her three-point attempts and demoralized a strong opponent with her at-will scoring ability.

Was that yesterday's semifinal game in the Pac-10 Tournament?  Well, no, actually it happened on March 19, 2005, at the Save Mart Center in Fresno (Calif.).  Stanford demolished Santa Clara 94-57 in a first round game of the NCAA Tournament.  But Wiggins precisely matched these 2005 statistics in yesterday's game against USC with similarly devastating effect on the opponent.

Although Wiggins' point total, minutes played and all-but-one three-point shooting were a precise match for the two games, there were significant differences.  In the 2005 game played during Wiggins' freshman season, a much higher percentage of her points came from slashing moves to the basket (Wiggins was 2-of-3 in three-point shots but 11-of-11 from the foul line).  The 2007 Wiggins edition did more from three-point range (an amazing 8-of-9, a personal record for Wiggins).  That was precisely what the team needed in a game in which USC was packing the middle to prevent Stanford's posts from scoring.

A week earlier, USC head coach Mark Trakh had watched as a Jayne Appel-led Stanford had out-maneuvered defenders in the paint.  This time, doubling down on Appel and Stanford's other posts, USC limited post production (Appel had no baskets and only one free throw in a foul-curtailed nine minutes).  But Wiggins, with help from Kristin Newlin (2-of-3 from three point range), made USC pay from the outside.

Stanford's opponent in the championship game, Arizona State, will surely not allow Wiggins the easy three-point looks that she had Sunday.  But the junior All-American has a multi-faceted game that has made life difficult for the Sun Devils in two previous meetings this season.  Wiggins plays the big games big.  Even when her three-point shot is not there, Wiggins has demonstrated the mettle to create in other ways – through her classic slashing moves, her pull up jumpers in traffic and her occasionally inspired put-back under the basket.  Not to mention her defense.  Wiggins will be there tonight.

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