5:30 PM ET, March 9, 2008
SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) -- Candice Wiggins walked away from one of her rare off shooting days thrilled to know her teammates can do so much to pick up the slack.Wiggins couldn't buy a basket in the first half, then scored four straight points to start the second and finished with 13 to lead Stanford (No. 7 ESPN/USA Today, No. 6 AP) into its seventh straight Pac-10 tournament title game with a 78-45 victory over UCLA on Sunday.The Cardinal are getting along just fine without major contributions from Wiggins so far in this tournament, though they're hoping for a lot more from the three-time Pac-10 Player of the Year later this month in the NCAA tournament."UCLA likes to key in on me, but I'm happy to know that when I'm not shooting well my teammates can step up and score," Wiggins said. "I try to look for other ways to help the team -- defensively, being able to do what I can and especially rebounding and setting up my teammates."Jayne Appel had 14 points, seven rebounds and four blocks and JJ Hones added 12 points and six assists in the Cardinal's 17th straight victory. Wiggins shot 6-for-21, including 0-of-6 on 3-pointers, but did her part on the defensive end with six steals and also grabbed seven rebounds.Top-seeded Stanford has reached the championship game every year of this event's existence, the last six years in San Jose after the inaugural tournament in Eugene, Ore. The event will move to Los Angeles for the next two years.The Cardinal will face area rival and California (No. 9 ESPN/USA Today, No. 10 AP) after the second-seeded Golden Bears held off Arizona State 65-61 in Sunday's first semifinal to reach their first conference tournament championship. The Cardinal (29-3) won both regular-season meetings on the way to their eighth straight regular-season league title."This is the last year the Pac-10 tournament is in the Bay Area, at least for now," Cardinal coach Tara VanDerveer said. "What a great way to go out for Cal and Stanford."Wiggins began the game 0-for-8 and Stanford shot 2-for-11 from 3-point range in the first half -- yet UCLA was worse, shooting 27 percent with 13 turnovers.Wiggins couldn't even catch a break when her layin attempt rolled around the rim and out with 1:14 left in the first half. She scored her first points the next time down off a pretty, one-handed bounce pass from Hones to help Stanford to a 34-16 halftime lead.Before the game, Wiggins sprinted onto the court and grabbed several basketballs and called out her teammates to get moving and join her. Later, once the blowout was nearly over, she stood on the sideline and did a little dance after freshman Hannah Donaghe swished a 3."If I could have scripted it, it would have been just like this: playing a lot of people ... except mabye Candice making a few more shots," VanDerveer said. "The team should be fresh for tomorrow night."UCLA (16-15) avenged two regular-season defeats to rival Southern California with a win Saturday to reach the semifinals, but looked like an entirely different team a day later. The Cardinal haven't lost since dropping games at UCLA and USC in the opening weekend of Pac-10 play in early January.No UCLA player had more than four points at the break. Leading scorer Lindsey Plumier was 1-for-7 from the field for two points and also committed three turnovers. She wound up with eight points and Doreena Campbell had nine."Defense, that's what picked them up," Plumier said. "They came out and played us tough the whole game."For the second time in as many days, VanDerveer was able to rest her regulars. Pac-10 Freshman of the Year Kayla Pedersen took a seat with 10:12 remaining and Stanford up 65-25, leaving Rosalyn Gold-Onwude as the only starter left on the floor.Appel went 8-for-8 on Saturday in a 64-41 win over Oregon State, then followed that by making all six of her free throws as Stanford shot 19-for-21 from the line.Stanford junior forward Jillian Harmon entered the game midway through the first half to loud cheers after she missed the previous seven with a stress reaction in her right foot. VanDerveer had been hesitant about using Harmon.Harmon immediately knocked down a jumper. She finished with four points, one rebound and one assist in five minutes."She's been working hard and it's been four weeks," VanDerveer said. "I just thought if she was going to play a little bit tomorrow maybe she should play a little bit. She did a great job for us and gave us a big boost."The Bruins' post players couldn't keep up with the more athletic Appel and Pedersen. Regina Rogers, UCLA's 6-foot-3 freshman, picked up her second foul only 2:08 into the game and was done for good with her fifth foul at 11:15 of the second half.
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