Kristen Newlin is another piece to the basketball puzzle that Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer continually contemplates as she finds a way to patch together the whole picture.
”When Kristen is on and fired up she’s a tough matchup,” VanDerveer said after the 15th-ranked Cardinal beat visiting Santa Clara on Wednesday night, 88-56. “This was a great game for New. We need different people stepping up. New stepped up big-time and we need her to do that.”
Newlin, who played 21 minutes against the Broncos, grabbed 10 of her game-high 16 rebounds in the first half as Stanford set the pace early and ran away from its south Bay rivals. She also added 12 points, including an impressive 3-of-5 from long range -- a career-best performance. The rebounds were one off her career high set against Texas Tech last November.
Stanford (3-3) hosts the red-hot 25th-ranked Lady Raiders (6-1) on Sunday at 2 p.m.
The Cardinal showed it learned an important lesson at Tennessee last Saturday by being the aggressor against the Broncos.
"Tennessee is the most aggressive team we've seen so far and we saw how it disrupted our offense," Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer said. "We wanted to do that to other teams. The No. 1 thing we're lacking is defensive intensity and defensive pressure. I thought we did that."
Stanford also established the pace of the game early. Newlin helped open things up by making the first shot of the game -- a 3-pointer.
“It was more about us and how we wanted to play,” VanDerveer said. “We want to be doing the right things, forcing the tempo, getting on the offensive boards and looking for good shots. I told these guys they weren’t recruited for their defense, so they should be shooting; as long as they’re looking for good shots. ‘New’ really opened things up by getting that first three; how many did she have? Three? That’s great.”
Stanford outrebounded the smaller Broncos by a 54-39 margin, including 22-10 on the offensive boards.
Newlin recorded her third double-double, and the ninth of her career. Michelle Harrison, Brooke Smith and Candice Wiggins each scored 13 points as Stanford had five players in double figures for the first time since having six players in double figures last Dec. 1 against Pacific.
"It definitely helps getting stronger," Newlin said. "It's really just wanting it. Except when I'm shooting it, I always think the ball won't go in and I want the rebound. You always want to get back out and play after a loss."
Jillian Harmon added 16 points as the Cardinal responded to consecutive losses to nationally-ranked Tennessee and Georgia with their biggest win of the season.
"It was important to get some confidence back quickly by being fluid in our play," Harmon said.
Stanford, the six-time defending Pac-10 champion, improved to 26-4 in the series with its local rival, including the last four in succession. The Cardinal beat Santa Clara in the first round of last year's NCAA tournament.
Santa Clara, which averages nine 3-pointers a game, was limited to 6-of-15 from long range, two coming in the final minute of play. The Broncos, who lead the West Coast Conference in scoring offense, were also held to their season low in points.
"That was our number one priority defensively," VanDerveer said. "Who would have thought we'd make more 3's than they would? We knew we had to play good perimeter defense."
Stanford made a season-high eight 3-pointers on 24 attempts.
The Broncos closed to within 14 points before the Cardinal went on a 16-3 run midway through the second half to take a 68-41 advantage. Stanford continued to pull away the rest of the evening.
Harrison reached double figures for the first time, scoring 10 of her points in the opening half.
Stanford recorded eight steals in the first seven minutes to grab a 22-8 lead, with 16 points coming off turnovers. Stanford had 33 points off turnovers for the contest, while Santa Clara scored nine.
The Cardinal led by as many as 19 points in the first half and took a 46-30 into the intermission.
Santa Clara senior Yasemin Kimyacioglu, a Pinewood grad and the younger sister of former Stanford star Sebnem Kimyacioglu, played seven minutes and received a warm ovation from the crowd when she came on the court.