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PACIFIC 10 WOMEN'S TOURNAMENT

Wiggins shoots down USC

March 05, 2007|Jerry Crowe | Times Staff Writer

SAN JOSE — The deep and talented Stanford women's basketball team won twice against USC this season without its best player.

So with All-American Candice Wiggins back in the lineup for Sunday's game against the Trojans in the semifinals of the Pacific 10 Conference tournament, the top-seeded and seventh-ranked Cardinal figured to win again.

Which it did.

With Wiggins making a tournament-record eight of nine three-point shots and scoring 29 points, Stanford rolled to a 67-52 victory over the fifth-seeded Trojans and into tonight's championship game against second-seeded Arizona State.

"That was Wonder Woman out there, Superman," USC Coach Mark Trakh said of Wiggins, a junior guard who sat out both regular-season games against the Trojans because of a hamstring injury. "If I didn't have to watch her do that to our team, I'd really enjoy watching her play. Just a great player."

A two-time Pac-10 player of the year, Wiggins helped the Cardinal to a 25-point second-half lead before Coach Tara VanDerveer cleared her bench.

"I don't think I've ever shot like this," she said. "It was just one of those games where you feel like you're in rhythm. I shot really bad in warmups, so I knew that was going to be a good sign for the game. That always happens."

Stanford (27-4) also got 10 points, 10 rebounds and five blocks from Kristen Newlin. Brooke Smith had eight points, eight rebounds and four assists.

Shay Murphy scored 16 points and Chloe Kerr 14 for USC, which still might land an NCAA tournament bid despite the lopsided loss, though the Trojans' 17-13 record includes an 0-8 mark against teams currently ranked among the top 25.

"I definitely think they're a tournament team," said VanDerveer, whose team struggled without Wiggins to a 56-53 victory over the Trojans last week at Palo Alto. "Obviously, we saw it more last week, but they've improved a lot."

Said Trakh: "We're hopeful."

No. 9 Arizona State 60, No. 25 California 53 -- Kirsten Thompson scored all 14 of her points in the second half to help the Sun Devils (28-3) hold off the third-seeded Golden Bears (23-8) and extend their winning streak to nine games.

jerome.crowe@latimes.com

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