The Stanford Cardinal were looking to feed off their win over the Oregon State Beavers last Saturday night by defeating their second Top 25 team of the year at Maples Pavilion, the Arizona Wildcats. The visitors from Tucson, though, had other thoughts and broke up open a tie game late in the second half, battling to a 78-69 victory at Maples Pavilion on Thursday night. Arizona moves to 19-4 on the year (8-2 in the Pac-10), while Stanford drops to 11-10 (4-6 in conference play).
"You're not going to stop Derrick Williams from scoring, [but] our guys battled him all night," said Stanford head coach Johnny Dawkins after the game. Williams tallied 21 points and eight rebounds in 33 minutes of play before fouling out. Even more impressive was that the big man played the game with tape around his right ring and pinkie fingers, an injury he sustained versus UCLA last week where his hand was bent backwards during the game. Lamont "Momo" Jones had 15 and Jesse Perry finished with 12 for the victorious Wildcats. Stanford was led by Jeremy Green's 21 points on 8-21 shooting (2-9 from deep) in 29 foul-plagued minutes. Josh Owens nearly had another double-double, netting 13 points and nine rebounds (six offensive) in 26 minutes, while Jarrett Mann was the only other player in double-digits, scoring 11 points, grabbing eight rebounds, and dishing out five assists versus two turnovers on the evening.
With the score knotted up at 60 with 4:17 left, the Wildcats slowly pulled away from the Cardinal down the stretch. Stanford split free throws on two possessions, whule Arizona got big shots from Solomon Hill, Williams (twice), and Jones, all from close range, to get the lead up to six, 68-62, with 1:45 left. After a miss by Green in the lane, Williams hit two more free throws to put Arizona up eight. Stanford got to within six twice before the Wildcats finished off the Cardinal, going 6-for-6 from the free throw line.
After the game, Arizona head coach Sean Miller said "our team played with a lot of poise and executed well on the road. The shots we took and got were good shots. We had a problem rebounding, but we put together a couple of good shots and got a key rebound or two, and kind of broke the game open in the last 4 minutes."
Stanford finished the game shooting 41% from the field, 61% (11-18) at the charity stripe, and a tough 24% (6-25) from beyond the arc. Arizona shot a scintillating 53% from the field (including 72% in the second half after their cold streak), but made just 42% of their three-pointers, doing most of their damage inside. The Wildcats finished the game at a 68% clip from the free throw line. Stanford outrebounded Arizona by a 37-32 count, including 16-9 on the offensive glass and dished out nine assists while committing just eight turnovers. Arizona closed the evening with 12 assists and 10 turnovers.
"We had some good looks…they just didn't fall for them," said Dawkins after the game. "[Arizona] made a lot of key plays down the stretch…give them credit," continued Dawkins, "They did have more girth than us…our heart was in the right place."
Arizona opened the second half cold, missing their first seven shots, allowing Stanford to grab a 41-39 lead with 15:11 left in the game after Mann found Powell inside on a nice out-of-bounds play. An Arizona free throw by Kevin Parrom cut the lead in half, but the Cardinal would get the edge up to as many as five before the Wildcats woke up and went on a 9-0 run, helped by Stanford turnovers, to grab the lead back at 49-45 with 12 minutes remaining in the game. The Wildcats got the lead back up to six, 54-48, before shots by Mann and Aaron Bright, both off offensive rebounds, cut the lead to two. With a chance to tie, Owens got called for a charge, his fourth of the evening, sending the crowd into a frenzy heading into the media timeout. Arizona was able to get the advantage back up to four, but a spectacular play by Dwight Powell where he went down the baseline, jumped behind the basket, and hit a floater from the other side of the hoop and two subsequent free throws by the freshman tied the game up again at 58.
The first half was a close affair at times with Arizona attempting to run away from the Cardinal on several occasions, going up by as much as nine after a tough hoop by Williams. However, John Gage came off the bench to ignite the team and the crowd, hitting three long balls to get Stanford within two before a Josh Huestis layup tied it up at 33 with 2:11 to go in the first half. Unfortunately, Arizona made two three-pointers, the latter coming with four seconds left in the half from Perry, giving the Wildcats a 39-33 lead at the break.
"We knew we had to have it...unfortunately, we didn't get it," said Green in the post-game conference. Now, the Cardinal have to get back up off the ground as they end their four-game home stand, finishing up with the Arizona State Sun Devils at 3:00pm on Saturday afternoon.
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