The View from Press Row: Idaho State

As bad as things went in Lexington 48 hours earlier for the men, the Stanford women enjoyed an equal magnitude of success in their NCAA opener Saturday at Maples Pavilion. Cissy Pierce got it started, and Brooke Smith kept it going... and going. Stanford smoked Idaho State in every aspect of the 96-58 first round victory, which we enjoyed from the sideline. Relive it with us, blow by blow.

Pregame - The player introductions illustrate the size differences between these two teams.  Position by position, the Cardinal have a consistent size advantage.  That includes Idaho State center Natalie Doma, who is listed at 6'3" but does not measure eye-to-eye with Stanford counterpart Brooke Smith as they shake hands at half court.

Pregame - Starting at guard is junior Cissy Pierce rather than freshman Melanie Murphy.  That puts Wiggins at the point rather than shooting guard.  Interesting.

Pregame - Nice to see some support from Stanford Football in the house.  I'm sure there are more, but I have spotted Emmanuel Awofadeju, Mark Bradford, Landon Johnson, James Dray, Chris Marinelli, Jon Cochran and Brandon Harrison in the house.  Harrison is a given, of course.  Candice Wiggins' "other half' is a fixture at Stanford Women's Basketball games.

Pregame - Pretty disappointing attendance as we approach tip off, and there should not be too many late-arriving stragglers who are not yet in their seats.  This game had an estimated 1:30pm PDT tip, and it is 25 minutes past that time right now.  The place is maybe two-thirds full.

19:52 - Idaho State comes out in a zone defense, which makes sense given Stanford's size and issues shooting from the perimeter.  They will dare the Cardinal to make shots outside today.

19:43 - Cissy Pierce is open up top against the zone and takes Stanford's first shot.  The three-pointer is good.  That is a big boost if Stanford can hit out there today, and even more if it comes from Pierce.

19:18 - Doma with the offensive rebound and putback score to tie the game at 2-2.  Stanford has the size advantage and should dominate the boards better than that.

18:58 - Kristen Newlin takes a hard shot to the face by Andrea Lightfoot.  Several times I've heard Tara VanDerveer lament that her team has to "get a bloody nose" before they fight back.  Will this be a literal example?

18:13 - Stanford defends all the way to the end of the shot clock, but Doma takes and hits a tough shot at the buzzer.

17:57 - Pierce hits her second three-pointer, and the crowd loves it.  Did that long distance breakout by Candice Wiggins in the Pac-10 Tournament signal an awakening for this team?  If so, they could play a long time this postseason.

17:31 - Idaho State hits a jumper.  They're 3-of-4 so far in the game.  It'll take that kind of afternoon to keep up with the Cardinal.

16:26 - ISU is crowding the paint, but Pierce is making them pay outside.  She has her toes on the line but hits her third from long distance of the game.  14-6, Stanford.

15:20 - The double- or triple-team is hitting every time Stanford touches the ball inside.  Newlin takes a tough mid-range shot over a double-team that misses.  That is the first missed shot of the game for the Cardinal.

14:59 - Pierce hits her "shortest" shot of the game, a 14-foot pull-up baseline jumper.  10 points already for the junior.  She is en fuego.  Idaho State calls a timeout, down 16-8...  Stanford is 6-of-7 from the field...  The last time Pierce scored double figures?  January 25 at Arizona, when she tallied 15 points.

14:42 - Wiggins has her name called for the first time in this game... and it's for a reaching foul on the defensive end.  Surprising to see her not yet attempt any of Stanford's field goal attempts.

14:42 - The Leland Stanford Junior University Marching Band and the Dollies are performing during the first media timeout.  I was in Lexington two days ago for the men, and there was no LSJUMB.  Sure makes a difference - home or away - for the Cardinal's comfort.

14:27 - Freshman Jayne Appel is into the game for Newlin.  She shoots on her first touch, and it's a miss at the basket.  Will she pick up her percentage shooting in the paint this postseason?

13:02 - Appel badly airballs a turnaround jumper in the paint late in the shot clock.  That was rushed and likely evidence of some first-game NCAA jitters for the freshman.  She won't be able to play like this next week in Fresno (if Stanford is there) against the likes of Sylvia Fowles or Tina Charles.

12:33 - Jeni Boesel hits a tough running jumper off the glass.  Nice aggressive play.

12:22 - Another way to attack the zone defense is to drive through it and dish.  Jillian Harmon just executed that to a "T", leaving the ball under the glass for Smith, who finishes with the easy lay-in.  Super play.

11:45 - Wiggins attempts her first three-pointer, and it rattles out.

11:26 - Smith turns around and hits a face-up jumper from eight feet on the baseline.  She has 10 points and is in fine form on the offensive end.

10:50 - Smith grabs an offensive rebound of a Wiggins missed three-pointer and scores under the basket.  She is 5-of-5 from the field plus 2-of-2 from the charity stripe.  Hmm - I already used "en fuego" in this story...  Stanford leads, 22-14.

9:52 - Freshman point guard Melanie Murphy came into the game, and she immediately is aggressive on the offensive end with a drive and jumper that scores.

9:35 - ISU misses their fourth three-pointer of the game.  The recipe for an NCAA Tournament upset requires big three-pointers from the underdog.  Sorry, Bengals.

9:24 - Smith drains a 15-foot baseline jumper.  She might want to save some of this for the upcoming (tougher) tests she and Stanford will face in their quest for Cleveland.

9:04 - That might get Appel on track!  She just spanked a driving lay-up attempt by Andrea Lightfoot with a ferocity that John Dunning would enjoy.

8:49 - Maybe not.  Idaho State goes right back at Appel, and Doma scores over her.  On the other end, Appel then travels moving with her back to the basket.  In comes Newlin for the freshman.

7:58 - Returning the favor earlier, Smith dishes from the high post to a cutting Harmon for an uncontested lay-in.

7:27 - Smith is unstoppable!  She hits an elbow jumper and is a perfect 6-of-6 from the field.  30-16, and Idaho State has to take another timeout...  Freshman Michelle Harrison is into the game for Harmon.  This is her first NCAA test.  Let's see how she fares.

6:36 - Wiggins finally gets onto the scoreboard with an open three-pointer in the corner.

6:18 - The score on offense gets her defense going, with Wiggins picking a Bengal's pocket and racing the other way, with the finish and her second score.  35-16.  Stanford is running away and starting to dominate on both ends of the floor.  Idaho State has hit just four field goals in the last 11 minutes since that 3-of-4 hot start.

5:41 - Wiggins goes to the bench for the first time today.  The oft-injured All-American should be handled carefully in this blowout.

5:23 - Another elbow jumper for Smith.  This is pretty sick stuff.  7-of-7, and most of it is away from the basket.

3:58 - Stanford just missed their third straight perimeter jumper since Wiggins left the game, with Pierce off from three-point range.  That was her first miss in five field goal attempts today.  But the bigger picture note I want to make is that the zone defense makes even more sense against Stanford when Wiggins is on the bench.  We'll see how Stanford executes offensively without Wiggins.

3:20 - Travel by Murphy on the perimeter.  Wiggins is pulled off the bench and immediately runs to the scorers table.

2:37 - Appel gets Stanford scoring again with a pretty up-and-under move to score at the basket.

2:18 - Natalie Doma hits Idaho State's first three-pointer of the game.  They need a flurry more to have any shot of catching the Card.  Doma is pretty darned impressive.

1:55 - Appel misses off-balance under the basket, but Harrison races in on the weakside and skies to tip the ball back in.  Big time play that shows the athleticism and leaping ability of the freshman.

1:31 - We haven't seen Stanford do much in transition yet today, but Wiggins just got out and ran the floor, with a pull-up jumper at the finish.  45-21.

0:59 - Smith goes to the bench for her first rest of the game.  I know Tara VanDerveer loves to play the fifth-year senior for monster minutes - more so than maybe any other player on the roster.  And I know that Smith is sizzling from the field.  But the Big Dance is not a sprint, and I would like to see Smith save something in her tank when Stanford is romping in a game like this.

0:43.8 - Wiggins commits her second foul, sending her to the bench and bringing Murphy back into the game.  That's a good thing for Stanford - whatever sits Wiggins.

0:13.7 - There was no score, but that was a picture-perfect display of passing by Stanford on the offensive end, highlighted by an Appel rocket that crossed the court to find classmate Murphy.  Appel and Smith have both looked very nice passing the ball today, which is often overlooked when examining Stanford's premier post play.

0:01.3 - A nice mini-boost of confidence to the battered Bengals, with Michelle Grohs hitting a corner three-pointer to close the half.  Still, ISU is in a big hole, down 45-24.

Halftime - Idaho State may be in even deeper trouble in the second half.  Why?  They played four of their starters 20 minutes in the first half.  Ruh roh.

Halftime - 18 points for Brooke Smith and 10 for Cissy Pierce - they alone outscored ISU in the first half.  Seven different Stanford players scored in the first half.  The defensive end was more impressive, though.  Stanford held Idaho State to just 28.6% shooting, and the Bengals were a mere 2-of-9 from three-point range.  This is a very, very good three-point shooting and overall scoring team who was made to look pretty poor.  I still maintain that Stanford's defense is their core strength this year, despite all the saliva that is released for the scoring of Wiggins, Smith and Appel.

Haltime - What does Brooke Smith do during warmups before the second half when she is 8-of-8 already from the field?  Shoot free throws.

19:43 - The defense continues to oppress Idaho State, with Smith and Newlin swarming Grohs and causing a turnover on the opening possession.  Smith comes up with the ball and is credited with the steal.

19:06 - Doma hits her second three-pointer of the game.  She's versatile.

18:47 - Smith with a 10-foot pull-up jumper is good.  We may have to crack the record book before long.

18:13 - After passing up an open three-pointer in the corner and passing away, Wiggins gets the ball back and shoots this time.  It rattles home.

18:02 - Wiggins reaches and picks up a foul on the other end, her third.  Again, probably a good thing for Stanford if it helps to pull her to the bench, but she stays in the game.

17:48 - Smith puts this jumper off the glass and turns to run the floor the other way to get set on defense.  She's a machine.

17:17 - The perfection is over.  Smith takes a three-pointer at the top of the arc and misses well short.  There should be nothing negative to say following her 10-of-10 start from the field, but it is fair to point out that the three-point range has slipped from Smith's arsenal a little this year.

16:57 - Smith misses again, this time hitting the side of the backboard from the baseline.

16:51 - The offensive rebound puts the ball back in Wiggins' hands, and she nails another three-pointer.  55-30.

16:22 - Murphy in for Wiggins.  Hopefully the junior will sit a long time.  The NCAA experience is really important for Murphy, too.

15:45 - Doma hits from deep again.  That's 3-of-5 for her now from downtown.  Idaho State trails 57-33, but the senior center is giving it her all.  She has 19 of the Bengals' points, and I still don't think she has left the game yet.

15:04 - Just in case anyone thought she might start a streak of the other variety after those two unsightly misses, Smith is back on track with a 16-foot baseline jumper.  She has 24 points.  Idaho State's players and coaches will have nightmares about Smith for months.

14:20 - Appel into the game for Newlin.  Newlin just made a nice move dribbling through a double-team and drew a foul.

14:06 - Smith misses an 18-footer, but Harmon leaps for an impressive offensive rebound.

13:53 - Stanford retained possession, and the ball eventually came back to Smith, finishing with a short little jumper that tickled nothing but twine.  26 points.

12:53 - Murphy has taken quite a few jumpers, relatively speaking, in this game against a zone defense that is daring the Cardinal on the perimeter.  Great sign for her to take (and make) the shots.

12:21 - Real estate is the time-tested way to get rich in the Bay Area, and Smith should be able to retire young the way she owns the baseline at Maples.  Another jumper from the left side of the basket (how many have come from the right today?) from about 12 feet.  28 points on 13-of-16 shooting.  Glad we have her on the front page today of!

11:25 - Smith is fouled for just the second time today, which will send her to the line when we return from this media timeout.  Idaho State really should make Smith and Stanford work for their points at the free throw line, which has been sometimes a place of peril this year.  Instead they have committed just five fouls with the game nearly three-fourths finished.  Maybe they aren't good/aggressive defenders.  We also have to account for the fact that these poor girls are playing mammoth minutes and must be taxed for energy.

11:25 - Smith misses the first and hits the second free throw.  3-of-4 at the stripe for her today, now at 29 points.  Just shy of 30 points, which is a magical number and also what is on her jersey.  I hope she gets there, but that free throw may be the difference.

10:48 - There was a moment of good defense against Smith.  She flew down the floor after a Stanford stop and received the three-quarters court pass, but she catches it under the basket and is blocked on the subsequent attempt.

10:02 - Appel hits her best shot of the day with a turnaround jumper after she moves across the paint.  She has four points.

9:09 - Wiggins is still in the game and hits her third three-pointer (3-of-8 today).  She started slowly but quietly has crept up to 16 points.

8:43 - Another good score by Appel, this time rewarded for running the floor in transition.  Wiggins found her cutting to the basket, and Appel scored against a pair of defenders at the basket with a quick catch and score on the run.  73-41.

8:19 - Wiggins comes out of the game.  That ought to be it for her today.

8:08 - Appel misses against a double-team but follows for her own offensive rebound.  That is 11 boards for her, which is tops in this game.

7:59 - Murphy drives into the defense and hits a tough shot off the glass in traffic.  She did not start but is doing quite a few nice things in her NCAA debut.  Murphy has eight points and several good and aggressive decisions against Idaho State's zone defense.

7:10 - All three freshmen are contributing today.  Harrison hits a running teardrop jumper in the paint for her second score of the game.  Stanford is up 77-44.

6:41 - After scoring just two points in the first half, Appel is more effective scoring in the second half.  She finishes in the paint after a feed by Harrison.  Eight points now for her, which puts in reach the double-double.  Smith also is close, with nine rebounds, but she is probably done for the day.

5:24 - Sweet touch pass by Appel to Murphy, who drives the open lane and scores off the glass.  Stanford is playing with three freshmen, a sophomore (Harmon) and a junior (Pierce) currently.  81-46.

4:21 - Pierce drives across the lane and then pulls up for a soft jumper that goes down.  She cooled off after that scorching start, so it's nice to see Pierce extend her success in this game beyond the opening minutes.  She has 14 points on 6-of-8 shooting.  That's all gravy for Stanford.  Pierce never scores that efficiently when her shots are that far from the basket.

4:08 - It's bench-clearing time for the Cardinal.  Markisha Coleman, Clare Bodensteiner, Christy Titchenal and Morgan Clyburn.  Much applause for the four who go to the bench.  Harrison is the only player to stay in the game; she would leave, too, if there was anybody left to put onto the floor.

3:49 - Lots of Cardinal fans leap to their feet as Clyburn hoists and drains her first attempt, a three-pointer from the top of the circle.  That is her first make from outside of the year!  86-51.  There is possible flirtation with the century mark if the reserves can execute in these final few minutes.

2:18 - Harrison catches a nice little lob from Coleman and turns around to lay the ball over the rim.  The defense was fronting her, and Stanford made ISU pay.

1:44 - Harrison misses, grabs the rebound, loses it but hustles after the loose ball to keep the Cardinal possession alive.

1:35 - Coleman drills the triple, and the crowd roars loudly in celebration.  The former walk-on and East Palo Alto native is a huge fan favorite.

1:02 - Clyburn rips a corner three-pointer, wide open after Coleman drives and dishes.  No mercy!  94-55.  Stanford is now 9-of-18 from deep today, though that percentage has climbed in these late minutes.

0:21.2 - Clyburn misses finally on her third three-point attempt, but Harrison has the rebound and then goes back up to score.  She has eight points.

0:00 - It's a 96-58 final.  Hard to do better or have a more positive game for Stanford in their NCAA opener.  Contributions from up and down the roster, with some fantastic scoring, suffocating defense (33.9% shooting for ISU) and dominating rebounding (53 to 20 margin).  There is very little to nit pick in this performance.  The Cardinal are off and running in the 2007 Big Dance.

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