Pregame: Okay, it's official. Barry Tompkins just took the title of world's most nasal voice from Gilbert Gottfried.
Some other pregame thoughts as I blog from the Row: is it an exaggeration to say that save for the Lopez twins, Washington State is better than us at every position? Weaver and Lowe are future NBA guards, they're definitely better than our backcourt. They also have better coaching and the home-court edge – yet we're only four-point underdogs. Talk about what the twins mean to this team. We're not starting Anthony Goods, as he has a rolled ankle, which means we're going big: Mitch, Fred, Law, Robin and Brook. Last time we won five Pac-10 games in a row was when the Cardinal went on a hot streak was in Games seven through eleven of the 2006 slate (@ASU, WSU, UW, @Ore, and @OSU) in 2006.
12:08pm: Brook starts right where he left up, hitting the game's first two from the line. The next five points illustrate the discrepancies in the backcourts. For Stanford, Washington airballs a layup between three defenders the possession after Johnson forces a turnover with an overly ambitious pass. For the Cougars, meanwhile, Kyle Weaver drives the lane for a bucket, then Fred gets screened off Derrick Low, who knocks down a three from the top of the arc. Hill and Brook get a bucket apiece down low, Finger comes in for Robin Lopez, and Cowgill strangely gets three offensive boards off Brook Lopez, and it's 9-6 WSU at the first media timeout.
12:19pm: Landry Fields is into the game early, and gets fouled on a fadeaway jumper. Next comes the rare free throw airball – he's at 47 percent this season after 65 percent last season. Think he's pressing a little bit?
12:22pm: Brook's out of the game [postgame edit: he finished with 41 minutes, so the stretch from the 16- to 12-minute timeouts in the first half was just about the only action he missed], but Fred's there to clean up another Fields miss short with a reverse layup and Stanford's hanging in. It's 13-11 Washington State at the 12-minute mark, despite a bevy of early Cardinal turnovers, and Brook on the bench for these last four minutes.
12:16pm: Wow, is everyone getting minutes. With Goods in street clothes, we've seen Landry Fields, Taj Finger and now Kenny Brown already. Some coaches prefer to shorten the bench when the turnover bug strikes, but Trent Johnson's going in the opposite direction.
12:27pm: Taylor Rochestie fades back and hits a three to put the Cougars up 18-13 with nine minutes left. About time as they've been really cold early [and would finish the first half 9-of-25, or just 36 percent]. Brook again gets fouled, and splits a pair and it's 18-14 Washington State as Taj substitutes in for Mitch. Who's going to play point?
12:30pm: Stanford defends for the whole 35 to force a missed off-balance three, and then Brook splits a double team for another layup on the right block. It's Finger on the left block for another layup to tie the game at 18-all at the eight-minute timeout. How about Washington State continuing to double Brook without the ball as Finger operates in the paint for his layup – that's the first time I've seen that this year.
12:36pm: While discussing the conference, Dan Belluomini blurts out the following line: "I think they get seven to nine [Pac-10 teams in the NCAA]." And I think the doctor needs to lower your medication. Seven conceivably, if Cal wins the Pac-10 Tournament or something, but nine, are you kidding me? Okay, there are nine teams potentially good enough to make the Tournament, but, you know, Game Theory 101, when two teams play, one of them necessarily loses. So there's no way nine teams can all win enough to build the record necessary to make it there.
Also, I'm young and an out-of-state voter, so that's two excuses not to pay attention, but Prop 94 through Prop 97 – the Indians seem conflicted here. One commercial had a tribe urging me to vote for the measures, and not four minutes later, here's another tribe telling me it's a money grab that threatens their way of life. What are all my save-the-world bleeding-heart liberal college friends to do? [Well, besides vote for Barack.] What to do?
Robin Lopez has been on the bench since four minutes in – and it's not even the two-foul rule in effect. [He'd finish with only six first-half minutes, and 19 on the game.] It is 20-19 Washington State up with four minutes left in the half. I think we all expected a tight and low-scoring game.
12:42pm: Mitch finds Robin Lopez with a nice pass (after he and Finger had both overshot Brook on entry passes for turnovers earlier) and Robin stuffs down a right-handed dunk to give Stanford its first lead since 2-0, 21-20. But Washington State goes on a 6-0 run on the strength of four Weaver free throws, and it's 26-21 Cougars with 36 seconds left in the half. We'll stall for the last shot.
Stanford's committed nine fouls, Washington State just five on the half, as Brook just picked up his first trying too hard on a block. Washington State gets a bonus second put back on the clock that takes three minutes of real time and, what do you know, it's still 26-21 at halftime. Brook and Derrick Low lead with seven points apiece, though on poor accuracy.
Halftime: Stanford doesn't score in the last 3:19 of the period, since that Robin Lopez stuff. We trail in turnovers nine to two. We've taken just 19 shots to their 25, but we're hitting 42 percent (eight) and they're at 36 percent (nine).
Maybe it'll be enough today, but every other game this season, we've attempted more shots than our opponents because of our edge on the boards. That's the winning formula, because this squad isn't going to outshoot too many teams come March.
1:13pm: Washington State starts the second half with the Cougar special: break-your-back defensive suffocation. Stanford has been standing on 21 for a mighty long time. Only problem is this isn't Vegas and Trent Johnson is no cocktail waitress. Cowgill slams one down from Weaver for Washington State and the margin's 30-21 just a minute in. Low and Weaver especially are penetrating at will, and then causing all sorts of problems when they do so. One good bit of news is that Stanford's drawn three team fouls in the first two minutes on WSU. And as I type, there's team foul number four at the 16:25 mark – Cowgill riding Lawrence Hill out-of-bounds after an offensive rebound. It's now 30-28 after Stanford's scored seven straight.
1:20pm: We're watching Lawrence Hill come alive in this second half. He rattles down a three from the corner and it's again a one-possession game, 34-31 WSU. He has eight of the team's first 10 points this half, and all three of their field goals. Whatever happens, Hill waking up is really important for our future, if for no other reason than we need a Plan B for games Brook only plays 22 minutes because of fouls. But Washington State punches back, as Low uses his speed to create space to drain a pull-up J. 36-31 WSU five minutes into the second. They're a darn good team, but they're also a tough matchup for us – those wily guards know how to use their quickness edge to get to the rack and the free throw line. They're penetrating against us at will.
1:22pm: It's still 36-31 six minutes in when Cowgill picks up his third and, more importantly, the team's fifth. Stanford has three cracks on the ensuing possession but can't knock it down (Brook's shot from six feet in the lane doesn't arc enough – I wonder if he's tired given his minutes.)
Two points: First, WSU's getting a lot of makeup calls. An off-ball foul and then a travel on Robin were both right, but wouldn't have drawn a whistle if Wazzu hadn't drawn five in the first few minutes of the half. Two, Wazzu continues to miss a lot from beyond the arc [where they'd finish just 25 percent, 3-of-12]. They're like us in that they get to the paint, albeit with slashers instead of size, but really aren't much of a threat from the outside. It'll cost them in the Tourney, because there will be plenty of teams able to stay in front of Weaver and Low. I think this is going to be the first game all season where the other team attempts more field goals than us, bad sign. A big reason why: turnovers are now 12 to two in their favor.
1:31pm: Weaver's scored six in a row and it's 42-33 with 11:20 to go. Wazzu's led by nine several times but never more, and MItch keeps it that way driving for a layup and a goaltending call to boot. If only he got double the points. Turnovers are now 14 to 3. That's not even fair. We're not doing a good job passing out of double teams [though no one player finished with more than four cough-ups], but Taj did a nice job flashing into the lane for Brook to find, and it's now 42-37 with 10:26 left. We keep rallying back.
1:34pm: After a Brook layup, the deficit's just 42-39 with nine to go. Cowgill misses a jumper, again, and downtown Kenny Brown rattles one in from the right side to knot the game at 42-all. This is our best outside shooting game to-date (against a meaningful opponent), and interestingly, it's come with Goods on the bench. He hasn't been shooting that well this season, so addition by subtraction is part of it, but maybe the other guards are also benefitting from the additional touches. (And maybe centering the offense around Brook is having an effect on Lawrence Hill or Fred Washington's games.)
1:37pm: It's all Derrick Low right now. He leans into Finger, not really trying to make a shot, but just get to the line, and gets the whistle. Right call, and he hits a pair to reclaim the lead for WSU, 44-42. The lean into contact is what Ryan Anderson was trying to do last week, and, speaking of Washington connections, it's what Chris Hernandez was trying to do that UW game at Maples two years ago (where he hit three free throws with .2 seconds left). I'm surprised more teams don't try to drive and draw contact against our oft flat-footed guards.
And then on a one-on-two fast break, Low leans into Mitch for a right-handed layup and the foul. It's 47-42 at the under-eight mark. It's disappointing that we haven't been able to exploit their early foul trouble and draw two calls in the last ten minutes to reach the bonus, but we're right in this with eight to go.
1:40pm: I look around and it's only juniors and seniors watching the game with me. Folks, if you think Sixth Man is bad this year, 80 percent of the diehards are seniors – wait until next year. I think I'm going to do a feature for the Daily on how only the seniors care.
1:41pm: The age of the fans is ironic given the youth of this team. It's one sophomore, Brook, on the line, where he again hits a pair [and would finish with 10-of-12 free-throw shooting on a night when free throws were anything but]. The Cougars lead 9-0 in steals. Big man Aron Baynes is on the bench for the Cougars with four fouls.
1:42pm: Low's scored the last eight WSU points after another three-pointer. It looked like Kenny Brown was late closing out on him on that shot, and has been Low's defender for most of this spurt.
1:44pm: But here comes Brook with another layup, just after a possession where he found his brother with the dish while falling to the floor. He's not going to score 30 in a game where points are tougher to come by, but he's our MVP even on a "quiet" night.
1:45pm: Low's now at 10 in a row after he takes Kenny Brown baseline. Trent Johnson, I never thought I'd say this, but substitute in for defense. I guess this is where not having Goods hurts us because he's a better defender than Kenny Brown and would be matched up on Low.
1:48pm: It's 52-46 WSU with five minutes left, as Kenny Brown leaves and Fred Washington reenters. I think Washington State points are going to be tougher to come by. Brook Lopez splits from the line, where he's now 6-of-8. It's 52-47 with four minutes to go. Sure enough, Low's got nothing now that Washington's matched-up against him, and WSU has to reset the O late in the shot clock. They isolate Weaver on Law Hill – Bennett's a great offensive coach and creates plays to attack the biggest speed mismatch on the floor (Brown and now Hill, to my eyes). But Taj comes up with a big block, and then we get bailed out on the other end, as Brook draws an off-ball foul jockeying for position on a possession that's going nowhere. He's going to the line with the score 52-47 with 3:33 left. After the timeout, he nails the pair, and is 6-of-8 today. He's scored Stanford's last seven, and it's 52-49 WSU at the three-minute mark.
1:53pm: After Baynes misses from point-blank range, Mitch Johnson throws up one of those no-no-no-yes shots. Actually, at our TV, it was more like a Mitch-what-the-hell-are-you-doing-Mitch-what-the-****-are-you-doing- Mitch-you're-killing-me-….-yes-YES-YESSSS! shot. It's a 19-footer floating to his right on the run. FSN's Belluomini : "A nice decision by Mitch." I really hope there's open auditions for that job next year. 52-51 with 2:49 to go. Weaver gets to the line and splits a pair after a questionable whistle on Finger. Big for us that he splits, because now it's just 53-51 WSU with 2:23 to go.
The Cougars are hedging aggressively defensively, really trying to force a turnover. The only problem is that leaves the paint wide-open. And Brook capitalizes, firing a no-look bounce pass to a cutting Taj for the stuff. 53-all with two minutes left. I'd stay at home if I were WSU. That's the second time hedging out to 35 feet has cost them. Fred is again upset with a whistle, but Aron Baynes bricks the first, before hitting the second. 54-53 WSU with 1:33 to go. A great effort whatever happens.
1:56pm: Hill drives and draws the reach-in on low. That's 14 points for him, his highest total in awhile, I think. To line for two goes Hill. He squanders a potential lead, but does hit the second, and it's 54-all with 1:27 left.
1:57pm: Washington State's fourth turnover couldn't have come at a better time. It's Low with the butterfingers, after Washington plays some great D and swats away the ball on the baseline. 16-4 turnover margin with 1:11 to go. Wow. I wish we'd run a little clock here so that WSU's next possession runs under 35. We should have two of the last three here if we plan ahead, which I've never seen Trent do in late-game situations. But hey, we're looking pretty good, OT at the worst.
1:59pm: Tie game and Brook gets it on the right block and splits a double. It's either a travel or a foul, pregnant pause and the call is a foul. That's the fifth on Baynes, left-right-left-right-see-ya! and Brook Lopez again hits both from the line. 10-of-12 today, just nails. Maybe he shot a lot of free throws that quarter off. It's 56-54 with 59 seconds to go. WSU will now get a two for one here if they run.
2:00pm: Brook turns his back on the ball and doesn't see Weaver driving past Hill. The late contact is the third on Brook. The announcers didn't think it was a foul; I couldn't see. Weaver again misses his first, who'd have thought it'd be us winning at WSU on free throw discrepancies. He does hit the second, so it's 56-55 with 46 to go. Brook's jumper is short and Law Hill goes down hard trying for the loose-ball rebound, looked like knee-to-knee contact. 29 seconds left, one-point Stanford lead. WSU has ball, if I were them, I'd run it down. The announcers say you don't want to play for the last shot. What's the correct strategic decision?
Bennett decides not to wait. Weaver penetrates again, Hill's screened and is way behind the ball, so Weaver goes right past him and dishes to Cowgill, who's wisely hacked by Taj. The 68-percent shooter heads to the line for two and the potential lead with 19 seconds left. He misses the first, again. I think that's the fourth set of free throws where WSU misses the front end. And he misses the second! Mitch Johnson holds it and gets fouled with 16 seconds to go. WSU is choking this one away. Wow.
2:04pm: Okay, Mitch Johnson to the line with a one-point lead, 56-55 with 16 seconds left. Win and we're probably in the top-10 for first time in the Trent Johnson era. Mitch leaves his first well short – it never got over front rim. And he misses the second, too. I wish we'd crash the offensive boards harder. Weaver races it up the court, draws slight contact on Hill and a whistle. They give him a lot of breaks. He's not going to give us any more gifts I don't think.
Yup, he makes the first, to tie it at 56-all with nine seconds left, but again the second is short. Who wants it less? Wow. Mitch brings it quickly across timeline, and with 5.7 seconds left calls timeout. Some of these fouls Weaver's drawing are questionable, but they're penetrating at-will and building up a full head of steam against us, and the tie goes to the runner.
2:06pm: Hill gives to Brook Lopez who forces up a contested, off-balance 14-footer from the block, and two offensive board tips are rushed. Everyone panicked, but we had three rapid fire looks at it, and it was a nice idea by Taj to tip it, and he did almost make that putback. Mitch has a smile on his face, 56-all and yup, here comes overtime.
2:09pm: With no Baynes, we have slight edge. That's the first tip we've won that I can remember. Whoever gets the first lead is so crucial in overtime as the other team quickly has to play catch-up and foul. And here's Taj, Johnny on the spot. No one has benefited more from Brook and the attention he draws as he has so many clean-ups of Brook misses. After yet another, it's 58-56 us 30 seconds in. Weaver grabs an offensive board and whips off a sick, no-look behind-the-back pass to Cowgill in a two-on-one. That's five on Taj, who leaves with eight points and eight boards.
2:12pm: The Cougars are missing a lot of free throws, and split a pair here. On the other end, it's a reach in on Weaver, his fourth. The announcers say, I think for the third time today, "This is a bruising game." Robin Lopez steps to the line for two, God smiles on the first – line-drive hits the back rim, bounces four feet up in the air and somehow drops. Announcers: "Making a swish is too easy." The second line-drive rattles out. Brook has such nice form, but Robin's is so flat. 59-57 with 3:30 left. Again WSU penetrates, and no one stays in front of Rochestie, who banks in a layup to tie the game at 59. Hill's open for a three, he drains it and is 4-of-6. 62-59 Stanford with exactly three minutes left. Weaver fades away with a man in his face for a miss with 2:25 left. Why not put Brook and Hill on the same side so that when Brook is doubled he can kick out to the hot hand?
2:15pm: Robin's whistled for a questionable one against Weaver, but ehh, he was going to draw a foul sooner or later. Weaver has a career-high 21, and hits both from line to pull WSU within 62-61 with two minutes left. We need to see offensive aggression here, which we sometimes lack when we get ahead. Give Brook a touch. Yup, and then it's Robin with the tip-in. 64-61, 1:41 left in overtime. Great athleticism from Robin to hang in midair and not tip the ball until it was out of the cylinder.
2:18pm: Low gets past his man and Brook comes out to defend. Low should continue driving and get to the line for sure, but instead strangely pulls back for an off-balance three, which clangs away harmlessly. Bad decision. After a Law Hill turnover, Cowgill grabs his miss and draws the foul on Brook. Stanford still leads 64-61, but now with 47 seconds left. I wonder if Brook has to sit with four.
Cowgill hits both freebies, so it's 64-63. Double overtime would not be good, because Brook has four, though Weaver does too and Baynes is gone. Stanford has the ball with an 11-second differential up by one. Again, we just pass it around the perimeter, total BS possession. But Robin Lopez throws down a spin move and throws up a prayer of a jumper, which he hits with 12 seconds left, 66-63 Stanford. Weaver, on the other end, uses a great pump-fake to get Hill in the air and go to line for three. Hill's out with five, and it's Chris Hernandez against UW time. But Weaver misses the middle one, barely rattling out.
Great game, and the hero is Robin Lopez, coming through with the tip and prayer of a jumper. Weaver fouls, drawing his fifth and subsequent disqualification, down 66-65 with six seconds left, and Mitch misses his first again. With 5.4 seconds left, WSU is going to have a look at it. I'm just glad Weaver is gone. Let's put Fred Washington on Low.
2:25 p.m.: Mitch hits his second, so it's 67-65 with 5.4 seconds left in overtime. Why not guard fullcourt? Good, we are. Rochestie drives the lane and misses a layup by inches. He was going too fast and wasn't in control, but how do we give him a point-blank look to tie? But, hey, that's the game.
Ugly, ugly, execution down the stretch. The camera cuts to
a cute WSU student. My girlfriend: "Start crying, b----." We tried to lose this
one, but they just wanted to lose it more. But after five straight Ws and a
top-tenish ranking this week, I'm not complaining too loudly.
Are you fully subscribed to The Bootleg? If not, then you are missing out on all the top Cardinal coverage we provide daily on our website, as well as our full-length feature articles in our glossy magazine. Sign up today for the biggest and best in Stanford sports coverage with TheBootleg.com (sign-up) and The Bootleg Magazine (sign-up)!