Wiggins Gets Record as Card Wipe Out Trojans

Candice Wiggins and Stanford blew by Southern California Thursday evening at Maples Pavilion, prevailing 77-51 to avenge a painful defeat in Los Angeles. Wiggins scored 18 points to pass Kate Starbird and become the all-time Stanford scoring leader with 2222 points and counting.

The breeze inside Maples Pavilion was just strong enough to lift a few of those "2216 and counting…" paper signs off the laps of unwary fans. The air was stirred both by the applause of the Cardinal faithful, who had come to witness Stanford basketball history on Thursday evening, and by the Cardinal themselves, who generated their own storm as they ran the USC Trojans off the court early in the first half, and never looked back. The final score was 77-51 Stanford, and it was nowhere near that close. Stanford was spinning the engine at a higher rpm than the Trojans from the start, and continued to pull away until the rev limiter kicked in around the time they amassed a 35-point lead midway through the second half and brought in the eager reserves for some valuable experience. The other score, which was not so final, was 2222 points, the accumulated total of All-American guard Candice Wiggins, who scored 15 points in the decisive first half, breaking the school career scoring record of 2215 held by Kate Starbird. Wiggins finished with 18 points, a big smile, and the game ball. The Cardinal finished USC to avenge a close defeat down in Los Angeles.

After the game, Stanford head coach Tara VanDerveer, sophomore center Jayne Appel, and senior guard Candice Wiggins addressed the assorted media hoards, as did Trojan head coach Mark Trakh and guard Brynn Cameron. There was much to say about the Cardinal running game that so energetically left USC in the dust, Wiggins' record, and Appel's fantastic play of late. Junior forward Jillian Harmon also played an excellent game, scoring 10 points and getting out in transition extremely well as the Cardinal built their big lead early. The Cardinal defense held Camille LeNoir, who hurt them badly in the last game, to 0-7 shooting and zero points. Cameron was a Trojan bright spot, with 16 points, (4-5 from three-point range).

Stanford head coach Tara VanDerveer on the game and the pace of play:

"This was a big game for us, having lost to them when we played there and obviously in a really close one. We came out very aggressively. We forced turnovers. We executed really well for about three-quarters of the game."

"I really liked [the pace at which the Cardinal played]. Our defense was able to create some offense for us. I liked how Candice was getting out in her lane. I liked how Jill (Harmon) was getting out fast. Kayla (Pedersen) had that really nice pass to Candice. Sometimes I feel that when our defense is more aggressive, sometimes that rushes our offense a little bit, and I think that happened. We were chucking up some shots that I was thinking, ‘We don't miss those kinds of shots.' Jayne wasn't, but some other people were rushing a little bit. We want to be able to play offensively at the pace we want to play defense and not have our defense rush our offense. I loved how we were running. Jill, she just got it going for me. I loved her hustle. Both Candice and Jill were getting out. JJ (Hones) was hitting them. Ros (Gold-Onwude) did well for us with her defense. To hold [USC junior guard Camille] LeNoir to nothing was…I mean she lit us up last time. Our team really focused on specific things and it paid off."

USC head coach Mark Trakh on the game:

"I felt they came out really tough in the first half. They just were in another gear. We didn't match their speed or as hard as they were playing in the first half. They got us in a big hole that was impossible to dig out. We did some good things in the last 10 minutes of the game. Stanford is just really tough and especially up here, that's for darn sure."

"[The Stanford transition game] didn't surprise us but they got out quicker. Well every time we play them, they run pretty well, but they got out real quick. We've only been turning the ball over 14 times a game, so they forced us into a lot of turnovers (29) that we usually don't commit."

"[Stanford] did a much better job defending the screen on the ball. They did a great job coming out and hedging, and forcing Camille (LeNoir) away from the basket."

Stanford center Jayne Appel had another fabulous game, scoring 18 points on 9-10 shooting and grabbing 8 rebounds. Her play has jumped to a new level in recent weeks.

VanDerveer on Appel's recent performances:

"In my mind, a huge turning point for Jayne this season was UCLA. Obviously she had great success against Rutgers, Tennessee and a lot of pre-conference games, but when we lost at UCLA, I really felt that our team was taken out of our game and Jayne was taken out of her game. I want to credit Jayne. I've already told her this and our team this, but when you don't play well, a lot of players don't ever want to watch videotape, but Jayne said right away to me, ‘Let's watch videotape,' and she watched herself. From then on, if we were to look at her field goal percentage, it's been incredible. She looked and she saw where she is on the floor and what she needs to do. If she's in the right spot on the floor, she scores. She's unstoppable. She has left hand, right hand, and she went with her outside shot. Pretty soon she's going to have a green light for threes. We have a bet. I really like how she's approached things. She has matured so much this season, playing so confidently. Just to have her in there opens things up for everybody else. She's been really a rock for us. I think it has been since that UCLA game. The challenge will be UCLA again, because they have a lot of very big bodies. They are going to try to push Jayne. It will be really fun to see her show them how much she has improved."

Trakh on Appel and the Cardinal inside game:

"The thing about [Appel] is she's got great hands, and she's got great footwork, and she positions her body very well. She's going to finish around the basket. She's probably one of the top big kids in the country, she and Kayla Pedersen. They've got a team that I think can do very well in the tournament because you've got a front line that can bang with big front lines and you've got a guard that's really athletic and skilled. They're obviously getting better and better, and I think they'll be pretty good come tournament time."

For the record, Appel is 53/69 for 76.8% in the 7 games since the UCLA game on Jan 4th. And what is the bet that will soon allow Appel to fire away from beyond the arc? "I have to have the highest shooting percentage in the country," said Appel. Why do bigs want so much to shoot threes, by the way? Is it the fun of doing something different than usual, or maybe annoyance that they get grabbed, hacked, pushed, and held while shooting, but the guards get an extra point if they sink one from all alone out on the perimeter without all the rough stuff? Whatever the allure, don't bet against Appel.

Candice Wiggins' routine scoring day started with a 1-2 trip to the free throw line 36 seconds into the contest. Next was a short jump shot, followed by a string of 4 more free throws. A lay-up in transition on a beautiful long pass from Kayla Pedersen was next in the books. One final 2-2 trip to the free throw line both tied Kate Starbird's record for career points and broke Val Whiting's record for free throws made in a career (481). A new Stanford record for points in a career (2222 for the moment) was established when Candice Wiggins put back a Jeanette Pohlen miss with 8:21 remaining in the first half and Stanford already well in front by 16 points. The record is very special and will be treasured by all who have enjoyed Wiggins' play these not quite 4 years, but there was a distinct feeling that neither Wiggins nor her coaches and teammates wanted to dwell on the accomplishment all that much just yet, as there is a very long way to go and their goals are yet to be achieved. They have bigger fish to fry, if you will.

Candice Wiggins on setting a new Stanford career scoring record:

"I'm feeling good. It's great to sort of get it over with, that whole record thing. I'm just excited that we were able to come back after losing to [USC] and play a great game. We learned a lot this game. We're getting better and better as the second half of the season goes on."

"[The record] wasn't really on my mind until I was walking by the side where the people were sitting and there was a poster, a little paper, that said ‘2216 and counting…' You don't ever go in expecting to score all these points. I thought, ‘I hope people don't leave for home unhappy.' I trust my teammates. I've been getting the ball at the right time and our offense is set where we find the open player, so I wasn't really concerned about scoring."

"I remember the year after the Olympics (1997), that's when I first started watching Stanford a lot. I was only 10. It would be like wow, they are so good, maybe one day I could just play on the team, just get there. I never thought I would be anywhere near those players. They're legendary to me."

Did she know she had set the record when she hit that shot? "I could tell. Everyone was excited. Yeah, I knew."

Jayne Appel on the mindset of the team heading into the game:

"I didn't know [about the record] until I saw a sign too, and that was in the second half. We were just more focused on doing what we needed to get done. Coach said before the game that every game is for a championship, because it is. We went in with that mindset."

Tara VanDerveer on Wiggins and why she is such a great scorer:

"I just want to congratulate Candice. We've had tremendous players here at Stanford. I'm really excited for Candice that she has set the Stanford scoring record, not because she's a great scorer, but because she's a great person and someone who is a joy to coach every day."

"I think [Wiggins] is more than a great scorer. I think she's a great player. She's a great scorer because…I mean, the ball goes in the basket! She thinks shot right away but she doesn't force shots. She has confidence in her shot, as all her teammates and all her coaches do. And she doesn't get shaken up. If she misses, she just believes she'll make the next one. She's used to scoring a lot."

"She likes to shoot, she likes to score, but she does it in a way that she knows she's helping our team. She looks to take the ball to the basket and she's got so much versatility. She can hit a three. She can take it to the basket. She can take a pull up. She can score off a screen. You leave her open and you're going to pay the price."

"Candice really understands the game. She is a student of the game. It's not just coming out there firing away. She really knows how to get open and people help her get open too."

Wasn't it the TV show Seinfeld that espoused the motto, "no hugs, no growth, no learning" or something to that effect? The Cardinal seem to be the antithesis of that right now, or perhaps a mutant hybrid. Call it "few hugs, all growth and learning," because self-congratulations (the hugs), even when well deserved, are taking a back seat to the growth and learning that must continue for the Card to reach their full potential as a team. Revenge game #1 was a rout. Revenge game #2 is on tap. Wiggins has put her name in the record books, and will surely add to her totals. (She is cruising towards several more records, but shhhh, nobody tell her.) No time for hugs right now, only growth, learning, and settling the score with the UCLA Bruins.

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