According to Script
Although UCLA has proven to be somewhat of a nemesis for the Cardinal in recent years, Sunday in the Pac-10 tournament semi-finals the Bruins went to slaughter meekly even with the Cardinal struggling through a chilly shooting night. Imagine if the Card had shot well? Stanford did everything else right, winning the rebounding battle 49-40, hitting 19-21 free throws, committing only 14 turnovers despite playing less experienced players big minutes, and coming away with 15 steals. The Cardinal defense was aggressive and prevented the Bruins from effectively running their offense or getting their transition game going. Jayne Appel had 14 points and 7 rebounds. JJ Hones added 12 points and 6 assists. Candice Wiggins missed her first 10 shots but finished with 13 points, 7 rebounds and 6 steals. Rosalyn Gold-Onwude played strong defense, pulled down 7 rebounds and contributed 3 assists. Jeanette Pohlen was aggressive going to the basket and scored 10 points. Best of all, Jillian Harmon made a spectacular, if short return to action. Harmon contributed 4 points, 1 assist, 1 block, 2 steals and 1 offensive rebound in only 5 minutes. If Harmon was rusty, don't anybody find the oilcan. The following are quotes from the post-game interviews. UCLA head coach Kathy Olivier: "Stanford is a very good basketball team. I thought they showed that today. Defensively they were very aggressive. They were more the aggressors. The first time that we beat them, we were the aggressors. We were the ones that came out and attacked them and today they attacked us. We weren't hitting our baskets and we crashed the boards hard, and once we did that they took advantage of it and got long outlet passes and ran the floor well. They're a team that likes to run and when they get on a little bit of a roll, they're hard to stop." UCLA senior forward Lindsey Pluimer: "They did a good job of running. They always crash the boards hard. I just thought their defense-they picked it up. They were more up on us, bodying us up. Usually Stanford is more of a "contain you" type of defense where [in this game] I thought they were pretty much up in our faces and did a good job defensively on us." Olivier on not taking advantage of cold shooting from Candice Wiggins: "We know how good Wiggins is. She's had a great career at Stanford. She wasn't hitting and she still makes so many other things happen. That's what good players do. She's making something happen for her teammates. She still got out on the break, got after it defensively. They kind of feed off her energy." Stanford head coach Tara VanDerveer: "We really came out with great defensive mentality. Ros (Gold-Onwude) did a great job for us, guarding either (Doreena) Campbell or (Darxia) Morris. Kayla Pedersen guarding Pluimer did an excellent job, and then other people worked really hard. Our defense was what really set the tone for the game. We had some people really struggling offensively but we got it going in the second half, got running, got the ball inside, just converted on some easy shots, getting out in transition. If I could have scripted it, it would have been really just like this because we were able to play a lot of people and I feel our team will be really fresh and ready to play tomorrow night. I might have had Candice make a couple more shots…" Senior guard Candice Wiggins on the championship game against Cal: We're really excited about this. Obviously Cal is a great team, but we're going to be facing great teams from here on out, so it's just one more of those "one-game-at-a-time" things. And it is a championship game so we know how much is on the line. We know how important this game is, and we're ready for the challenge." VanDerveer on the return of Jillian Harmon from the foot injury that kept her out for a month: "[Harmon] has been working hard. It's been four weeks. I was told initially that it would be between two and four weeks and I think if she was going to play tomorrow she needed to play a little bit. My mindset was play as needed. She did a great job for us. She gave us a great boost in the first half. Once we had the big lead I told her, ‘You're not going to go back in.' It helped my confidence and I think her confidence to see how she would play on it, but obviously she would know better." Jillian Harmon on her first game back after the long layoff: "I was just so excited to get back out there. I've been waiting four weeks to go out there and play but I think I gained a lot of knowledge being able to watch for four weeks as well. So I was just really excited." "First of all, I was sitting next to Mel Murphy and Michelle Harrison and I just felt lucky that I get to come back and play in the post-season. I got to watch the different post players, Kayla and Jayne, watch them seal and get position, and watch the great defense of Ros, Candice, and JJ, so I watched our own players." Sophomore/junior guard Rosalyn Gold-Onwude on playing Cal for the third time: "I think we're going to need to be very aggressive, very focused for this game. Obviously Cal will be. We've beaten them twice already so I'm sure they'll be bringing their "A" game. I think it's great for Pac-10 basketball. It's going to be a Bay Area rivalry. I hope a lot of people come out. I hope this place gets packed. We want a good game and we want to definitely bring our "A" game, do our thing, and come out with a win." Wiggins, when asked if her shooting struggles were frustrating: "Not really frustrating because there are other aspects of the game besides scoring. Obviously that's what I do, so it is kind of frustrating, but I've got great teammates who pick me up and every time I miss a shot, they have confidence in me. They're right there. Ros is like, ‘Good job. It's fine. We know you got that.' It's not really that frustrating. It's just a matter of getting them to fall." "I go back to my high school coach. She used to always say you have to think like a 50% shooter, so if you miss the first few, the next few are going in. In this case, the first ten, I guess. (Chuckles all around the room.) I had a lot of catching up. I really have that mindset that you keep shooting and that my teammates have confidence in me." Wiggins on where she puts her efforts when the shots do not fall: "Defensively, just being able to help as much as I can, and giving a lot of energy on defense, especially if your shots are not falling. You're not taking away from your team, so try and look for other ways, maybe even rebounding and setting up teammates." Center Jayne Appel on matching up with Cal posts Devanei Hampton and Ashley Walker: "Both Ashley and Devanei are great players. I've played against them for 5 years, almost (counting high school). They're great players. They're going to bring their best game and they're really physical inside the post. I think our defense will focus around shutting down these two players and just getting after it and trying to be really aggressive against them." Tara VanDerveer on how the team will prepare for the Monday night game against Cal: "Our coaching staff and our players will have dinner, relax a little bit, and then we'll get back together at around 9:00. We'll go over some things that we want to really get focused on tonight. We'll do a walk-through tomorrow and do a little shooting tomorrow. We are very familiar with Cal, as they are very familiar with us, but we like to do some different things. We'll figure out a game plan that will give us the best chance of being successful and have a "B" plan and a "C" plan. At this point there aren't any secrets. We're really excited to have Jill back. That's different than the second time we played them. And I really feel that out team is playing a lot better. Our defense has really improved and there are a lot of different people with more confidence offensively." Wiggins on any advantage that Stanford might have from their previous times playing in the tournament championship game: "I think when it come down to it, it's a championship game and both teams know what is on the line. I think back a few years ago and I think for UCLA that was the first time and they had nothing to lose and went out strong. It's just one of those games that you can feel the energy when it happens. [Cal] will be fine with it." VanDerveer on the improved defense: "People just really took it upon themselves to say, ‘I'm going to do my job.' We really focus a lot on taking away opponents' favorite moves. Kayla worked really hard and was really proud that basically when she was on [UCLA forward] Pluimer, [Pluimer] only got four points. Ros did a great job on Morris, who had a great game last night against USC. Whether it was Candice guarding Campbell or Jayne guarding a variety of different post players, the best thing was that people did not get in foul trouble. They played smart. They played position defense. They played team defense. I think defense is a matter of will. And they just willed it to happen that way. I was really excited about how aggressively [they played] but also without fouling. Fouling often negates any hustle. If we play good position defense and then foul, that is not a good thing." VanDerveer on the final against Cal: "This is the last year that the Pac-10 tournament is in the Bay Area, at least for now, and what a great way to go out with Cal and Stanford. I hope both sets of fans will really show up. I hope we set a record for the number of people at a championship game. It can be a great game and we've had two great games with them already. As Ros said, we will be prepared and they will be prepared. It's just going to be a matter, probably of grinding it out. The team that makes the plays. At this point it is pretty safe to say that both teams will be playing in the NCAA tournament. All [this game] will do is help each other get better. This will really help get us ready for the NCAA tournament, and that is what a Pac-10 tournament should do."
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