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Wiggins helps Stanford oust Connecticut, reach final

Apr 7, 2008 - 2:46 AM TAMPA, Florida (Ticker) -- Candice Wiggins had 25 points and 13 rebounds and Kayla Pedersen added 17 points as Stanford held off overall No. 1 seed Connecticut, 82-73, in the national semifinals on Sunday.

Jayne Appel chipped in 15 points and 10 rebounds for the Cardinal (35-3), who will face either Tennessee and Louisiana State on Tuesday night in their first national title game appearance since 1992. That was also the last time Stanford won the national championship.

The Wade Trophy winner, Wiggins shot 7-of-19 from the floor and added five assists to lead the Cardinal to their 23rd consecutive win.

"This is a great win for our team, our program," Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer said. "I'm just so proud of all of our team. Everyone really worked hard. Connecticut is a great team, and obviously with their success, Geno (Auriemma) is a great coach, so we knew we would have to play our absolute A game."

Stanford went on a 10-4 run midway through the first half to open up a 25-18 lead with 8:33 to play en route to taking a 40-33 advantage at the break.

Connecticut scored the first five points of the second half and later pulled within 47-46, but Stanford had an answer.

Wiggins made consecutive 3-pointers to ignite a 10-0 spurt and give Stanford a 57-46 bulge with 10:28 remaining.

"I was kind of struggling in the beginning of the second half," Wiggins said. "Just caught it and just made a few threes. I think that really helped our team's confidence, where the pressure wasn't really on us."

The Huskies (36-2) closed within 71-66 with under three minutes to play, but Pedersen made a 3-pointer and Wiggins scored on a jumper to push Stanford's lead up to 76-66 with 1:42 to play, and the Cardinal cruised to the finish.

"At this time of the year, especially in this environment, unless you win there's really not a lot that you can say that's going to make any of the players up here, any of the players in the locker room feel any better," Auriemma said. "There's no words to describe what it means to put everything - your heart and soul - into something and come up short."

Freshman Maya Moore had 20 points and eight rebounds to pace the Huskies, who shot 37 percent (26-of-69) from the field. The 82 points also were the most the Huskies have allowed in a game this season.

"It's been a great season," Moore said. "Up to this point we found a way to win every game until now. We found a way to win more games than we haven't. We made it to a Final Four and only lost two games, that's not too bad. But we're definitely not satisfied with that."