The Stanford Cardinal continues to find ways to win, moving their record to 10-0 on the season after defeating a scrappy, well coached Hartford Hawks team on Tuesday night, 69-55.
Stanford was led by senior Mitch Johnson's 14 points and eight assists, while Anthony Goods, Lawrence Hill, and Jeremy Green all scored in double digits. Hartford (4-9) was led by forward Michael Turner and his 14 points and five rebounds. Jaret von Rosenberg had 13, while Morgan Sabia and Genesis Maciel had 11 each for the Hawks.
Stanford may have led for most of tonight's game versus Hartford, but fans never really seemed to feel completely secure in the victory until the final minutes when the Hawks backed off down by a dozen points. In fact, despite Stanford increasing their lead at several points in the second half, Hartford, playing with an infinitely greater amount of passion and drive than Texas Tech showed Stanford on Sunday, drove into the lane almost at will and made a few shots to make things scary for the Cardinal. At one point, Hartford was down seven and had a couple of attempts to cut the lead further late in the second half, but they couldn't convert and Stanford went on to record the victory.
During the first ten minutes of the game, both teams battled for supremacy with the Cardinal trying to put away the Hawks early with three-pointers, but not having much success. Meanwhile, Hartford tried running some backdoor, Princeton offense on some possessions, making some shots and then setting up a variety of defenses, including a 2-3 and a 1-3-1 zone that seemed to confuse Stanford at times and at others allow them wide open looks that just weren't going down.
Finally, the Cardinal tried to take control by running off six straight points over a four-minute span, but the Hawks quickly cut the lead to three. From there, Stanford outscored Hartford by a nine-to-five margin and headed into the locker room up by seven. At the break, Stanford was shooting 45% from the field, but had made just two of 14 attempts from beyond the arc. Meanwhile, their America East Conference foe was making 41% of their shots, but was four of 12 from the three-point line. Stanford used a 7-1 offensive rebounding advantage, along with nine steals, to help keep the Hawks at arm's length through the first 20 minutes.
As the teams came back out of the locker room for the second stanza, Stanford seemed poised to run away with the game through the first 7:30 of the second half, capping a 17-8 span with a steal and subsequent three-pointer by Green, putting Stanford up 16, 53-37. In fact, Stanford still led by those same 16 points with just under nine minutes to go, but Hartford stepped up their game, got a couple of favorable calls (at least in the eyes of the just over half-filled Maples Pavilion crowd), and ran off 11 of the next 13 points to get within seven with 5:33 to go. However, three timely misses helped keep Hartford from creeping closer and Hill made an inside layup to stem the tide. Johnson hit a three from the left-wing to make it a 65-53 game and both teams traded misses and turnovers over the next two minutes before Stanford put it away with four points from Green, leading to the final 14-point margin of victory for the Cardinal.
Stanford finished the game shooting 44% from the field, 26% from the three-point line, 55% from inside the arc, and a dismal 58% from the free-throw line. The Cardinal's defense, along with some bad missed open shots, tallied up to the Hawks shooting just 38% from the field, a season low for a Stanford opponent. Hartford also shot just 22% from the three-point line (including 1-10 in the second half), 50% from inside the arc, and 86% from the charity stripe. Stanford outrebounded Hartford 38-32, including 13 on the offensive end which led to 10 second-chance points. Hartford finished with 18 turnovers to Stanford's 12, while the Cardinal handed out 18 assists to the Hawks' 10.
Overall, it wasn't the cleanest performance for Stanford, but a win is a win
and Stanford will certainly take that going into this weekend's opening Pac-10
Conference games versus Arizona State (7:30) on Friday and Arizona (7:00) on
Sunday. Stanford will need to play a lot more like it did on Sunday versus
Texas Tech if it hopes to win both games of this crucial homestand against the
Sun Devils and Wildcats. Winning these two games would go a long way in
showing the conference and nation that this team is for real and ready to be
compared to the upper echelon teams in the country. Even a split would be
deemed more than respectable for a team which many didn't expect to fare well
within the league. Regardless, you can bet head coach Johnny Dawkins will have his troops ready to take on the Arizona schools that begin the 2009 portion of this season's schedule for the Stanford Cardinal.
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