MINERS
Lacy and Wiggins to Match Up in NCAA Second Round

Natasha Lacy had 19 points, seven steals and six assists in the opening round against Western Kentucky.

Natasha Lacy had 19 points, seven steals and six assists in the opening round against Western Kentucky.

March 24, 2008

NCAA Tournament Central
Gametracker

STANFORD, Calif. (AP) - When Natasha Lacy played at TCU before transferring to her hometown team of UTEP, Stanford's Candice Wiggins showed up on campus while visiting a friend and watched Lacy scrimmage.

Now, two years later, Lacy vs. Wiggins will be one of the most intriguing matchups when their teams meet Monday night in the second round of the NCAA tournament on the second-seeded Cardinal's home floor at Maples Pavilion. A pair of talented senior guards who keep in touch on occasion, each trying to make it through at least one more game. Lacy even sent Wiggins an Internet greeting Saturday with her best wishes.

"It's her last home game and it could be my last game period," said Lacy, who had 19 points, seven steals, six assists and five rebounds in a 92-60 first-round rout of Western Kentucky. "There's a lot at stake and none or us wants our season to end. That was so long ago. I hope my game has evolved, and she probably has some moves I haven't seen. I look forward to matching up with her."

Matching up with Jayne Appel might be another matter for Lacy and Co. Stanford's 6-foot-4 center scored 29 of her career-high 33 points in the first half of the Cardinal's 85-47 first-round win over Cleveland State.

Stanford (31-3) is riding a 19-game winning streak heading into the game with the seventh-seeded Miners (28-3) for a berth to the Spokane Regional. The Cardinal want to avoid their fate from a year ago, when they were upset by Florida State on their home floor. The first game Monday features No. 3 seed California (27-6) against sixth-seeded George Washington (26-6) in the Greensboro Regional.

 

 

Wiggins, the Pac-10's career scoring leader, will take the floor at Maples for the final time - and that figures to be emotional for everybody on the Farm who has come to adore her.

"I don't think it's hit me yet and maybe it won't hit me until tomorrow when I'm actually playing. But it's so crazy to think about four years," Wiggins said. "It's been fantastic. Maples is such a special place, so I'm really grateful for the opportunity to play there one last time. I'm going to give everything I have and leave it on the court."

Wiggins knows Lacy will bring her best.

"I know she's a great player," Wiggins said before hitting the practice floor Sunday. "They have a lot of confidence."

With good reason.

UTEP was impressive in its NCAA debut Saturday, and coach Keitha Adams insists her team won't be intimidated playing in front of a largely pro-Stanford crowd. She points to the Miners' games earlier this season in hostile environments, and the fact her team has practiced and called plays over radio noise in the background to prepare for these very situations.

Lacy is the Miners' leader and the team's NCAA tournament veteran, having gone three times while at TCU. Stanford will probably need more production from Wiggins than it did in the first round, when she had 13 points, five rebounds, four assists and two steals in 27 minutes.

UTEP will try to establish its up-tempo game from the opening tip.

"This young group is ready to compete no matter where or when," said Adams, whose Miners have won 24 of their last 25 games with the only loss coming to SMU in the Conference USA tournament title game. "We know it will be a very loud, enthusiastic crowd. We will be fine."