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"Of course I realized I didn't make a shot all night," Hornbuckle said afterward. "I looked up [at the rebound], and I said, I don't want to pull this down; with my luck, I might as well try to tip it in. Luckily, it went in."
In her final game Fowles had 20 rebounds and 24 of the two teams' combined 93 points, which marked the lowest scoring game in Women's Final Four history. That dubious distinction didn't concern Summitt. What did was Parker's mental state. "I thought Candace was struggling emotionally," she said after the game. "I don't think she has had a lot of sleep. She has spent a tremendous amount of hours on her rehab."
Parker admitted the next day that she had been frustrated with herself. "I wasn't on at all last night, and I can't play like that for my team again," she said. "Obviously Stanford is going to look at the LSU tape and do some of the stuff against me that [the Lady Tigers] did. But I appreciate [assistant coach] Dean [Lockwood] staying in my ear. He told me 'You can contribute. There's defense, there's rebounding, there's altering shots'—things like that."
Now that Tennessee had dispatched one of the two teams that had marred its otherwise perfect record, it had to face the other. On Dec. 22 Stanford had ended 10 seasons of frustration by beating Tennessee 73-69 in overtime in front of a packed house at Maples Pavilion. For Hornbuckle, the sting of the loss was made worse by the death of her grandmother that same night. "Those were two losses that ruined my Christmas," she said.
Parker says the loss inspired a lot of soul-searching within the team. "I think it was a defining moment in our season. With the next two games being versus DePaul and Notre Dame, I think those were the two best games we played all season. We raised the bar. We looked at ourselves in the mirror and asked, Is this who we want to be?"
On the other hand, the win had boosted Stanford's confidence. Disappointed by not getting the No. 1 seed after a 30-3 regular-season record, the Cardinal had torn through the NCAAs with its pass-oriented triangle offense. No team was playing better, and no individual was wowing fans more than the cheerful, dynamic Wiggins, who had dropped 41 points on top-seeded Maryland in the Spokane Regional two games after crushing UTEP with 44 points.
Stanford had scored two more upsets since arriving in Tampa. On the morning of April 5 Wiggins was awarded the prestigious State Farm Wade Trophy, given to the best women's player, which had gone to Parker last year. And on Sunday evening the Cardinal mowed over top-seeded Connecticut by controlling tempo, taking care of the ball and making good shots while limiting the Huskies' transition points and offensive boards. "They're a very difficult team to play right now," said Connecticut coach Geno Auriemma. "Very difficult."
Stanford's 82-73 win shelved the weekend's most anticipated story line: a national title game showdown between Auriemma and Summitt, who had declined to renew the teams' regular-season series last year.
In its place: Ace versus Ice.
Candace and Candice had first met as 12-year-olds at a national AAU tournament in Florida and eventually became friends through USA Basketball. "We came up with the nicknames Ace and Ice because we don't meet many people who have the name Candace," says Parker. "We always call each other that. She's on my AIM's buddy list, so we always talk."