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Appel secures Final 4 trip for Stanford

Louisville's Deseree Byrd lifts Angel McCoughtry while celebrating their win over Maryland on Monday in Raleigh, N.C.

Louisville's Deseree Byrd lifts Angel McCoughtry while celebrating their win over Maryland on Monday in Raleigh, N.C.

BERKELEY, Calif. – Iowa State’s scheme was obvious to Jayne Appel even before the opening tip.

The Cyclones put all their energy into guarding the Stanford center’s teammates, forcing Appel to try to beat them herself.

And what a beating it was – one that will forever have a prominent place in Stanford’s illustrious basketball history, long after the resulting Final Four trip by the Big Appel and her Cardinal.

Appel scored a school-record 46 points in the third highest-scoring effort in NCAA Tournament annals, overwhelming Iowa State’s single-coverage defense and securing Stanford’s second straight Final Four appearance with a 74-53 victory in the Berkeley Regional final on Monday night.

Stanford’s imposing 6-foot-4 junior with neon-pink fingernails and a dancer’s grace broke Candice Wiggins’ single-game school scoring record with her final basket for the Cardinal (33-4). Dominating from the first possession, she made 19 of her 28 shots and with 16 rebounds nearly outrebounded Iowa State by herself before being mobbed by teammates at the final buzzer.

“I came into the gym with the mind-set that I wasn’t going to leave without the net,” said Appel, the Pac-10 player of the year who erased her previous career high by 13 points. “We weren’t going to leave here without cutting down those nets. It just wasn’t an option.”

She left little doubt about Stanford’s 20th straight victory and eighth Final Four berth, although coach Tara VanDerveer never felt comfortable until the final seconds. Only Drake’s Lorri Bauman (50 points in 1982) and Texas Tech’s Sheryl Swoopes (47 in 1993) have scored more points in an NCAA Tournament game than Appel.

At the Final Four in St. Louis, the Cardinal will meet the winner of Connecticut’s Trenton Regional final meeting with Arizona State.

Louisville 77, Maryland 60: At Raleigh, N.C., Angel McCoughtry had 21 points and 13 rebounds and Louisville claimed its first Final Four berth by upsetting top-seeded Maryland in the Raleigh Regional final.

Deseree Byrd added 17 points and Candyce Bingham had 15 for the third-seeded Cardinals (33-4). They never trailed and led by double figures for virtually the entire second half.

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