SPOKANE, Wash. -- As if ordered up from room service, a montage of the Maryland women's basketball team's comeback win to beat Duke in the national championship game two years ago ran on the video scoreboard at the Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena early in the second half last night, as the Terps trailed Stanford in their regional final.
Rather than serve as inspiration, the clip proved to be a cruel reminder of happier days, as the Terps were unable to recreate the magic of Boston and lost to the Cardinal, 98-87. It was the most points Maryland surrendered all season.
Behind senior All-America guard Candice Wiggins' 41 points, Stanford, which shot 32 percent from three-point range for the season, torched No. 1 seed Maryland's perimeter defense, connecting on 14 three-pointers in 28 attempts. The Cardinal, the No. 2 seed in the regional, also largely neutralized the Terps' inside tandem of Crystal Langhorne and Laura Harper.
The two seniors, who combined for 23 points in their final Maryland performances, leave with 117 wins and a national championship in their final three seasons.
"As a senior, I never wanted my career to end like this," said a tearful Langhorne, who finished as Maryland's all-time leading scorer and rebounder. "It's never going to be like this in my professional career. We just didn't want it to end like this."
All five Terps starters scored in double figures, marking the first time this season that Maryland lost when five of its players scored 10 or more. Junior Kristi Toliver had a career-high and NCAA tournament school-record 35 points for Maryland (33-4), including 11 straight in one second-half push as the Terps tried to erase a 17-point Cardinal lead.
'Right now, all I'm feeling is the loss and the fact that I don't get to play with my seniors anymore," said Toliver, who scored 24 in the second half. "That's what's going on in my head."
Maryland, which had lived at the free-throw line all season, shot just 15-for-24, including missing five of six foul shots in a critical stretch as it tried to climb back in the game.
Stanford (34-3), which has won 22 straight, advances to Sunday's Final Four in Tampa, Fla., to meet the winner of tonight's Connecticut-Rutgers regional final in Greensboro, N.C.
Trailing by 10 at the half, matching their largest halftime deficit of the season, the Terps, who shot 54 percent from the field, shaved the Cardinal's lead to five at the 14:51 mark off a three-pointer from Toliver. But Stanford answered right back with a three-pointer from Wiggins, the Most Outstanding Player of the regional and a three-time Pacific-10 Player of the Year from San Diego.
"Sometimes it's just not your day, and you have to give credit where credit's due," Terps coach Brenda Frese said. "I thought Stanford did a tremendous job for 40 minutes. [It's a] credit to them. I thought they continued to hit big shot after big shot and really played poised for 40 minutes. From our end, I thought we dug ourselves into a hole early and tried to fight and come out of that hole the entire game."
Frese, who had been battling with the officials all evening, drew a technical foul protesting a foul call on Jade Perry with 11:35 left. Wiggins hit both free throws, then scored on a drive down the lane on the ensuing possession to boost Stanford's advantage to 73-56, its biggest lead of the night.
The Terps made one last desperate push behind Toliver, the hero of the 2006 title game. Starting at the 8:05 mark, she scored 11 straight points to trim Maryland's deficit to seven with 6:16 to go. However, Wiggins answered a Toliver three-pointer with her own three with 5:57 remaining to push the lead back to 10 and essentially seal the game.
Percentages: FG .508, FT .769. 3-point goals: 14-28, .500 (Wiggins 5-11, Hones 4-10, Pedersen 3-3, Pohlen 1-1, Gold-Onwude 1-3). Team rebounds: 3. Blocked shots: 2 (Pedersen, Appel). Turnovers: 7 (Appel 2, Hones 2, Gold-Onwude, Wiggins, Harmon). Steals: 5 (Wiggins 2, Hones, Pedersen, Appel). FGFTReb
Percentages: FG .541, FT .625. 3-point goals: 6-19, .316 (Toliver 3-8, Harper 1-1, Strickland 1-5, Coleman 1-5). Team rebounds: 4. Blocked shots: 2 (Harper 2). Turnovers: 12 (Harper 4, Toliver 3, Coleman 2, Strickland, Langhorne, Perry). Steals: 5 (Harper 2, Toliver, Strickland, Coleman). Technical fouls: None. Stanford5147-98
A-6,821. Officials-Tina Napier, Cameron Inouye, Sue Blauch.