Bouncing back from tough losses is the theme of this week's TWISH series. If you remember it, you know why the 1992 Arizona defeat ranks among the all-time blunders in Stanford hoops history. There's no other way to describe a night where, in a tie game and Keefe at the foul line in the closing seconds, the Cardinal found a way to lose.
Four years later and led by two members of the 1991-92 side, Stanford welcomed USC and UCLA for a weekend visit. The Cardinal stood eager not only to avenge an earlier loss at the Trojans, but to also to lay to rest a streak of 10 straight losses to the conference-leading Bruins. Done and done.
February 8, 1992: Stanford 86, Arizona State 73
Today's college head coaches can have their Armani threads. Give me Coke bottle glasses (Lou Carnesecca), sweaty armpits (Rollie Massimino) and towel draped over a shoulder (Bill Frieder). The uniquely disheveled former Michigan and Arizona State coach offered high praise for his opponent after the Cardinal claimed a convincing effort.
"I saw it in their eyes," he said. "They were focused."
Marcus Lollie dished out 10 assists and Stanford put its demoralizing loss of two nights earlier in the rearview mirror. No. 7 Arizona came away with a 72-70 victory when Khalid Reeves drove the length of the floor for a layup at the buzzer. Keefe drew a shooting foul in the closing seconds, missed his first shot, and then promptly had the ball given to Arizona when Brent Williams was called for a lane violation. Queue Reeves' heroics.
But Stanford righted itself, shooting 59.6 percent from the floor against ASU to move into fourth place in the Pac-10 standings. The Cardinal (13-5, 5-4 with the victory) wound up claiming an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament at year's end.
Any questions about focus (or lack thereof) were answered in the opening minutes. Lollie sent a lob to Keefe, who breezed past Mario Bennett before flushing home the slam dunk. Stanford saw ASU hang tough for much of the first half before using a 9-0 run before halftime to lead 45-33 at the break.
The talented Bennett, an all-conference performer by the end of his four years, would score just three of his 18 points after halftime. Still, the Cardinal held a 50-35 edge three minutes into the second half when Montgomery thought the home crowed needed a pick-me-up.
"If the players can get themselves back up, then I felt (the fans) surely could."
February 10, 1996: Stanford 67, UCLA 66
There was no need for Montgomery to lead cheers for this one. In front of a sold-out crowd and a national television audience, Stanford defeated the No. 17 Bruins and ended its streak of losses to UCLA. The Sixth Man stormed the court. Jubilation reigned after the No. 25 Cardinal overcame an early 15-2 deficit.
"This is big," fifth-year senior Andy Poppink said. "This is something I'll hold onto."
But it very nearly became the kind of result Stanford endured four years earlier against the Wildcats. With the Cardinal up 67-63 with under a minute left, Charles O'Bannon poked the ball away from Brevin Knight. Kris Johnson of UCLA wound up with the ball, scoring on a layup and converting on a three-point play after drawing a hard foul from Harbor. Forty-six seconds remained.
Knight wound the clock down after getting the inbound pass. With the shot clock about to expire, he hoisted up an off-balance three-point attempt that went short. The star point guard, always seemingly at the right place, grabbed the long rebound. Stanford soon ran out the clock.
A key sequence occurred earlier in the second half, when Jim Harrick picked up a technical foul and Stanford scored four points on free throws from Dion Cross and a hoop from Knight.
"Horrible call," Harrick said in his trademark fashion. "Sometimes they don't understand the magnitude of the game."
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