Stanford's cupboard was too bare to repeat the previous season's feats, when a 26-7 overall record featured a school-record 15 conference wins and the program's first NCAA tournament berth in 47 years. But despite settling for an NIT berth, the 1989-90 squad enjoyed a few fleeting moments of glory with new starters like John Patrick and Deshon Wingate teaming with Adam Keefe. None of these moments were bigger than what took place This Week in Stanford History.
Feb. 18, 1990: Stanford 70, UCLA 69
The 1951-52 college basketball season included the first true Final Four format, with the four regional winners converging on one site (Hec Edmundson Pavilion in Seattle) with a national title at stake. UCLA won the Pacific Coast Conference despite losing at home to a 19-win Stanford team.
This picture symbolized the distance between the two programs in the ensuing decades. Stanford wouldn't win again on the Westwood campus until UCLA moved into its new digs in 1965. The Cardinal's 0-24 mark at Pauley Pavilion stood as a major obstacle to basketball relevancy on The Farm.
But behind a career-high 20 points from Australian strongman Andrew Vlahov, Stanford finally snapped a losing streak of which it was all too aware.
"We haven't won here forever," Coach Mike Montgomery said afterwards. "I'm as proud of these kids as I can be."
The Sunday afternoon tilt saw the Cardinal move to 15-8 overall and even their conference record at 7-7. UCLA (16-7, 9-5) saw its faint hopes of winning the Pac-10 disappear. It was a significant victory for Stanford, which finished a season sweep of the Bruins and extended its winning streak over UCLA to three games. The Cardinal had collected a decisive win the previous March when the two sides met at The Forum in the Pac-10 tournament semifinals.
A back-and-forth game saw Keefe, engaging in another battle with Bruin stars Don MacLean and Tracy Murray, score 17 points. UCLA closed to within 60-56 with 6:20 to play. Stanford held a seemingly comfortable 67-56 lead at the 3:51 mark, after sophomore guard Marcus Lollie sank both free throws.
But the Bruins stormed back behind a full-court press. The Cardinal would be held without a field goal the rest of the way. The indomitable Vlahov, its high scorer and frontcourt muscle, fouled out with 2:17 left and the score 67-60. Lollie sank two more free throws with 43 seconds left for Stanford's last points.
It all came down to pressure-packed free throws in the final seconds. Leading 70-68 with four ticks remaining, Stanford fouled Trevor Wilson. The swingman's second half technical foul swayed momentum in the Cardinal's favor when the teams met at Maples the previous month. He was eager to atone.
But he missed the first foul shot before making the second. Stanford successfully inbounded the ball and ran out the clock, finally celebrating a long-awaited victory. Meanwhile, the Bruins dropped their third straight in Pac-10 play.
On the same day, Gary Payton's 26 points and 11 assists against Washington State moved Oregon State to 12-2 in the conference. The 1990 season remains the Beavers' most recent NCAA Tournament appearance, the longest streak of futility currently in the Pac-12.
"The second half was rocky," Montgomery said at the time. "At the end UCLA was taking it to us and we couldn't seem to do much."
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