Maples On Ice

By Jeff Lippman - March 25, 2008


While the 3-seeds had a lot of trouble on the day with both Cal and Baylor losing their second round games, the 2-seeds had no such trouble.

Rutgers, LSU and Texas A&M all won easily and advanced to the Sweet 16 Monday. For them, it all went according to plan. For the other 2-seed, Stanford, it went according to plan, but with a special Palo Alto send off for Candice Wiggins.

Wiggins made the last game she will ever play at Maples Pavilion a very special one. Already the Pac-10's career leader in scoring, Wiggins closed the books on her incredible career by tying another record.

Because for Wiggins, the end of her Stanford career couldn't come as simply as one last game, or even one last win. No, Wiggins needed to go out with more style than that. So she made her last game in Maples the greatest single performance Maples has ever seen.

Scoring a school-record tying 44 points - the third highest point total in women's NCAA history - Wiggins led her Cardinal to a 88-54 win over the 7-seed UTEP in front of the home crowd one year after the Cardinal were upset by FSU. Last year Stanford didn't make the Sweet 16. They might not have needed 44 points to make it this year, but Wiggins wanted to be certain.

She was 6-of-13 from 3-point land. Oh, and I haven't even mentioned the fact that she hit on a double-double with 10 rebounds, too. Yes, Wiggins put on a show. Something for the hometown crowd to remember her by.

Wiggins will be remembered for a long time in Palo Alto, and if she keeps playing like this, it'll be for bringing the National Championship back to California.

Here's some more notes from Monday's late action:

--Rutgers brought out its vaunted "55" defense early against Iowa State and it worked. The Cyclones fought hard, but in the end, the Scarlet Knights were far too tough and physical for ISU to handle. Once again the Scarlet Knights looked good on the offensive end and once again Kia Vaughn had a big night. The junior center dropped another season-high 23 points and was nearly unstoppable down low. Epiphanny Prince scored 17 for Rutgers and Matee Ajavon had 16.

--Vanderbilt got another big game out of Christina Wirth and after toying with West Virginia, the 5-seed, for part of the game, eventually came on strong and defeated the Mountaineers, 64-46, in Albuquerque. Wirth scored 21 points, including 4-of-7 from long range and Jessica Mooney added 11 big points off the bench. The Commodores advance to the Sweet 16 where they will face the winner of Maryland-Nebraska.

--Danielle Gant was dominant en route to scoring 21 points and Texas A&M's spot in the Sweet 16 was never in doubt as they ran all over Hartford, 63-39, from Baton Rouge. Morenike Atunrase had 13 big points off the bench for the Aggies, who continue their hot play after winning the Big 12 Tournament. Hartford was held to just 38 field goal attempts and 34 percent shooting by a superior Aggies defense. Texas A&M advances to meet the winner of Arizona State-Duke.

Posted by Jeff Lippman at 12:36 AM on March 25, 2008
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