Monday, March 31, 2008

Wiggins looks to cap career with Final Four


— The Candice Wiggins bio is filled with almost every accolade available to a college basketball star - player-of-the-year this and all-everything that.

There's only one glaring omission: a trip to the Final Four.

"That would be the ultimate thing," Wiggins said Sunday.

For all her accomplishments at Stanford, where Wiggins will be recalled as the greatest to play for the Cardinal, getting Stanford to the Final Four is the one goal she has missed.

Her final chance comes tonight when the second-seeded Cardinal put their 21-game winning streak on the line against No. 1-seed Maryland in the Spokane Regional final, a matchup of two teams that feel slighted.

The Cardinal (33-3) believe they should have been the No. 1 seed out West. Maryland (33-3) sees itself as the unappreciated, undervalued No. 1 seed everyone expects to falter.

Either way, one of them heads to Tampa and a matchup with either Connecticut or Rutgers in the national semifinals.

"This is a game that everybody has been waiting for since selection Monday," Maryland guard Kristi Toliver said. "You saw the split screen, and you saw us happy ... Now it's the showdown. It's the game everyone wants to see."

It's been 11 years since a team from West of the Rockies has reached the Final Four. That Stanford team in 1997 was the last of three straight Final Four teams led by Kate Starbird that all failed to reach the national championship game.

The last West Coast team to win the national title was the Cardinal in 1992.

Stanford was in this position three times in the past four years, including twice with Wiggins as its star. Two years ago, when she was a sophomore, the Cardinal lost to LSU in the regional finals. A year earlier, it was a setback to Michigan State.


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