Close Call For Cardinal, But Bruins Win

No double overtime on Thursday, but UCLA deals Stanford another stinging loss.

Give the Cardinal this: they know how to make it interesting.

Down by 21 points with 8:48 left in the game, Stanford appeared doomed. With 3.3 seconds left, the Cardinal had a chance to win the game. Instead, Chasson Randle’s three-pointer from 40 feet glanced off the glass and fell off the rim at the buzzer, sealing a 69-67 win for UCLA.

Stanford (15-7, 6-4 Pac-12) has dropped back-to-back games for the first time this season. Anthony Brown led the Card with 19 points, with Chasson Randle and Rosco Allen adding 13 points each. With the win, UCLA (14-9, 6-4 Pac-12) swept the regular-season series with Stanford.

“I give our kids a lot of credit in the second half for the effort and energy to get us back in the game,” Johnny Dawkins told the media afterwards. “They gave us a chance to win at the end. But you can’t get behind by that many points in a collegiate game. We dug ourselves a hole, and we couldn’t quite climb out of it.”

It took double overtime for Stanford and UCLA to decide things on January 8 at Pauley Pavilion. For much of Thursday night’s rematch, it appeared that there would be no such drama. The Bruins outshot, outworked, and outhustled the Cardinal, then hung on for dear life at the end.

Working from a 61-40 deficit, Stanford whittled away with a series of drives and jumpers. Along the way, the Cardinal hit seven of nine shots—by far their best stretch of the game—and somehow Stanford was down 67-61 with 3:48 to go.

The Cardinal kept at it, and Rosco Allen’s three-pointer cut UCLA’s lead to 68-67 with 4.8 seconds remaining. Bryce Alford was fouled, but made just one of two free throws with 3.3 seconds to go, setting the stage for Randle’s final, ill-fated heave.

Still, Stanford had somehow made a game of it, probably after much of the viewing audience had grabbed the remote. To Anthony Brown, the difference for the Cardinal during their big run was simple. “Towards the end, we were making the extra pass,” he said. “In the first half, none of our jumpers were in rhythm. In the second half, we were finding the next guy and making the extra pass.”

The final statistics were closer than they should be, given how much better UCLA played through a larger portion of the game. The Cardinal made just four of their first 16 three-pointers, but made three of their final seven. Stanford connected on almost 47% of its shots in the second half, and actually outrebounded UCLA for the game, 41-40.

Dawkins dismissed those numbers, saying, “you can’t defend for 20 minutes. You have to defend for 40. For me, that stat sheet is a bit deceiving. They were making shots, and they were playing in a comfort zone. I thought we had them playing comfortable through large stretches of the night.”

The 5,298 fans who were scrambling to beat the traffic to make it to Maples Pavilion on time for the television-friendly 6 p.m. tipoff did not miss much. UCLA, however, missed five of its first six attempts from the floor. Stanford made just five of its first 17, including a stretch of one-for-eight (and the one make was a dunk by Marcus Allen). For the half, the Cardinal also missed five free throws, made just three of ten three-pointers, and allowed ten offensive rebounds.

The cold Cardinal and an alert UCLA defense eventually joined forces, allowing the Bruins to turn a 15-13 lead into a 31-15 advantage with 3:29 left in the half. Stanford was able to mount a flurry, with three-pointers by Rosco Allen and Brown, a steal and layup by Randle, and a hook by Stefan Nastic.

The 10-0 Cardinal run added up to a 31-25 halftime lead for UCLA. But the Bruins answered by starting the second half with a 12-2 run. The Cardinal defense collapsed, allowing Isaac Hamilton and Norman Powell to take advantage with repeated drives to the cup, and Alford to hit big threes. Once the Bruins led by 22 with 11:23 left, all conclusions seemed foregone. That is, until they weren't.

Kevon Looney and Tony Parker had pounded the Cardinal in the first meeting, but were quiet this time (13 points, 17 rebounds combined). Instead, the Bruins perimeter personnel went wild. Powell scored 20, with Hamilton and Alford each scoring 18 more.

“Obviously we’re disappointed,” Brown lamented. “But for me personally, I never feel sorry for myself. We’ve got eight games left, and we’ve got to take it one day at a time. Just as fast as you can lose two, you can win three or four.”

On Sunday evening, Stanford will try to start a streak when they meet USC (9-12, 1-8 Pac-12; RPI #178) at Maples Pavilion for a 5:30 p.m. tipoff. Entering their Thursday night contest at Berkeley, USC came to the Bay Area saddled with a six-game losing streak. In their first meeting on January 11, the Cardinal were deadly from three-point land early before holding off the Trojans late for the 78-76 win.

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