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Candice Wiggins and Candace Parker will close out careers with national title at stake

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) - Candice Wiggins and Candace Parker, two of the country's top players, will get a final chance in college to showcase their talent with the NCAA championship on the line Tuesday night.

Candice Wiggins, Stanford's all-everything guard, practically willed the Cardinal to their first Final Four appearance in 11 years. She wouldn't leave without giving them a shot at their first national title since 1992.

Candace Parker led Tennessee to its seventh national title a year ago and will try to help the Lady Vols become the first repeat champs since Connecticut won three straight from 2002-04.

'It's what we've expected all season,' Tennessee's Nicky Anosike said. 'Everything we've done led to this game.'

The All-Americans will play their final college games Tuesday night before heading off for the WNBA, which holds its draft less than 24 hours after the game. Parker, who has decided to skip her final year of eligibility at Tennessee, is expected to be the first pick.

The Lady Vols (35-2), who beat LSU on Sunday night on Alexis Hornbuckle's putback with seven-tenths of a second remaining and Cardinal (35-3), which shocked UConn 82-73 in the other national semifinal, are not strangers.

The teams met on Dec. 22 at Stanford, with the Cardinal winning 73-69 in overtime.

'I definitely want to face Stanford,' Tennessee's Vicki Baugh said. 'Christmas break, they beat us, so we want to pay them back.'

Wiggins scored 22 and Rosalyn Gold-Onwude scored nine of Stanford's 10 points in OT to end the Cardinals' 11-game skid in the series. Parker had 25 points, 10 rebounds, four assists, four blocks and two steals.

'They're a great basketball team, a team that plays very well together,' Tennessee coach Pat Summitt said. 'They have a lot of offensive weapons. They have more offensive weapons than we've shown we have.'

Stanford enters the final with the nation's longest winning streak at 23 games. The Pac-10 champs haven't lost since dropping consecutive road games to UCLA and USC in the first week of January.

The Cardinal are also riding high after avenging a November loss to UConn, a 12-point setback that prompted coach Tara VanDerveer to tinker with her offense and gave Wiggins and her teammates a sense of how much work needed to be done to accomplish their goal of getting to back to the game's biggest stage.

'They're a better team now,' Summitt said. 'I'm glad that we've played them. We know their tendencies. ... We've got our work cut out for us.'

Wiggins had 25 points, 13 rebounds and five assists to pace Stanford's upset of UConn. Kayla Pedersen added 17 points and Jayne Appel, the Cardinal's other 6-foot-4 post player, finished with 15 and 10 rebounds.

VanDerveer doesn't plan to change anything Stanford has been doing.

Wiggins is on one of the greatest individuals runs in tournament history, and her young supporting cast is giving her enough help that opponents can't afford to focus too much on trying to slow the Cardinal star.

'We'll come out, play our best and do what we've been doing all year,' VanDerveer said.

Playing with an injured shoulder she hurt in last week's regional finals, Parker scored 13 points on 6-for-27 shooting. She had 15 rebounds and refused to make excuses for her performance.

'I made the decision to step out on the court. ... It's fine,' she said. 'I'm going to continue with the same rehab process and just go from there. I'm really excited that we're in Tuesday's game.'