The Stanford Cardinal came into Sunday afternoon's matchup with the Washington Huskies looking to get a critical sweep of Pac-10 home games this weekend. Stanford had lost to Washington up in Seattle last month, 84-83, and needed this win to keep within striking distance of the rest of the conference. However, the Cardinal couldn't capitalize on an early run, missed plenty of shots to start off the second half, and were not able to finish off a late comeback bid, falling to the Huskies, 75-68, at Maples Pavilion on Sunday afternoon. The loss leaves Stanford (14-7, 4-7 in the Pac-10) in a three-way tie for seventh place, two games behind resurgent Arizona, while Washington (17-6, 8-3 in the Pac-10) moves to within a half game of first place UCLA with seven games remaining in league play. The loss at home was the also the third one in conference, the first time that has happened since 2001-02 when the Cardinal lost home Pac-10 games to Arizona, USC, and UCLA.
The first stretch of play between the Huskies and Cardinal showed that the two teams were ready to pick up play from their previous matchup as each squad made four shots, including a three-pointer for each side, to have the game knotted up at 9-9 at the first media timeout. Landry Fields had made two short jumpers in the lane for the Cardinal, while Quincy Pondexter, former high school teammate of the Lopez brothers in Fresno, California, hit a long three from the left corner, along with another jumper, for the Huskies. Both teams continued to trade blows over the next four-minute stretch, but UW made a couple of mental errors, including trying to convert a virtual 5-on-1 break with a pull-up jumper. As the ball went long off the rim. Mitch Johnson was able to corral the rebound and find a streaking Fields for a one-hand jam, giving Stanford a 12-11 edge with 14:07 remaining in the first half.
Anthony Goods, who struggled to find an open shot early in the game, found his rhythm a bit with a step-back three-pointer from the left corner. This sparked a 12-0 run over the next 1:50, capped off by a Jeremy Green three-pointer from the top of the key to give Stanford a 10-point lead, 25-15. However, that margin was brief as the Huskies fought right back, running off eight straight over the next 1:30 before Mitch hit a short jumper to stop the bleeding and give Stanford a four-point edge, 27-23. The cut, though, got worse as the Huskies tight man-to-man defense, and a couple of Stanford mental gaffes, caused three straight turnovers. When Jon Brockman, who had been mostly quiet in the half, made a layup, the lead was all gone and the two programs were tied 29-29 with 4:28 to go. It took another two and a half minutes before either team scored again, but a Venoy Overton layup completed an extended 16-4 run for Washington as they took the lead back from the Cardinal. Green hit another three-pointer, again from the right wing over his defender, to give Stanford back the lead, 32-31. Brockman hit two free throws with 8.9 ticks remaining, while Johnson's right-wing three rimmed out at the buzzer, leaving the Huskies the lead going into the half, 35-34.
As a team, the Cardinal shot 43% from the field, including 50% from three-point land (4-8), 40% inside the arc, and made six of eight free throws. The Huskies also made 43% of their field goals, including 43% inside the arc. Washington attempted just two three-pointers, making one, but were 8-13 from the charity stripe. Rebounding was nearly even, with the Huskies gaining a 19-18 edge, including 6-5 on the offensive glass. Stanford dished out seven assists on their 12 buckets, but turned the ball over 11 times. The Huskies had just five assists on 13 baskets, yet only turned the ball over eight times. The one glaring statistic off the team stats box was that the Huskies were having their way with Stanford inside the paint, getting 20 points to Stanford's six.
Individually, Stanford was led by Fields who had 13 on 6-8 shooting (he made his first six), to go along with a team high seven rebounds. Goods was next in line with eight points, including five he made from the free-throw line as he looked to penetrate for most of the half. Off the bench, Green has six on his two long balls. Washington's leading scorer at the break was Pondexter, who was guarding Fields and vice-versa, with 13 points. Brockman took only three shots from the field, but three free throws gave him seven points for the half. Isaiah Thomas had six points, but left three on the free throw line.
The second half started, but only one team appeared to be on the floor ready to play as the Huskies continued to sizzle on the court, reeling off nine in a row in 3:16 to take their first double-digit lead of the game, 44-34. Lawrence Hill, who had a very quiet and disappointing first half, finally got a shot to fall, but the Huskies came right back to get the edge back to 10 before the first media timeout. One positive for Stanford was that both Justin Dentmon and Pondexter picked up their fourth and third fouls, respectively, potentially leaving the door open for the Cardinal to get back in the game.
The Huskies, though, continued to play well on both ends of the floor, causing bad shots by the Cardinal and converting on mostly easy looks on the offensive end. The lead ballooned to 54-41 with 11:23 to go after a fast break which ended on a Brockman layin. Through the second media timeout, Stanford was shooting 3-14 from the field while Washington was 8-13, further hurting the Cardinal's chances at a making a comeback. Another Brockman layup appeared to be another nail in the Stanford coffin as the Cardinal had managed to score just 16 points over the prior 18 minutes, however, someone forgot to tell Green as he hit for five straight, followed by Josh Owens backing down and shooting a layup over Brockman to cut the lead in almost half, 56-48, with 9:08 to the game. The Card had two opportunities to further eat into the Huskies' lead, but could not convert, leaving Washington up eight, 60-52, with 7:11 to go as the teams hit the media timeout. The next four minutes of the game would ultimately decide what shot selection the Cardinal would have to play with down the stretch, either hoisting threes into the air with reckless abandon, or allowing them to play their offense and hopefully bring the lead down even further.
After two Thomas free throws put Washington back up 10, Stanford went on an impressive 8-2 run over the next three minutes, highlighted, punctuated, and "Tear The Roof Off This Sucka!" one-handed dunk from Josh Owens off a fast break! The electrifying maneuver got Stanford within four, 64-60, with 4:02 to go. The crowd was on their feet, looking for further blood, but another offensive rebound off a missed shot led to Pondexter making two free throws to stop the momentum. Will Paul converted one of two free throws, then a turnover by Darnell Gant pushed the door open again for the Cardinal. Fields hit a tough baseline jumper over Pondexter with 2:18 to go to get Stanford within one possession, 66-63. Washington, specifically Thomas, had other ideas as he made an incredible play driving to the hoop and getting one off the glass to put the Huskies back up by five with just over two minutes to play. On the next possession, Fields missed a tough shot long, but Hill got the rebound and passed it over to Mitch who launched a three from the left wing that was off the mark entirely. Stanford did have one more chance after the empty possession as Overton missed the front end of a one-and-one, but Brockman gathered the rebound, leading to another foul by Stanford. This time, Dentmon made both shots, getting the lead to seven. Goods would miss another three-pointer, spelling the end of the comeback for the Cardinal. Overton would make three freebies, Pendexter one of his own, before Stanford scored five meaningless points in the last 13 seconds.
For the game, Stanford shot 42% from the field, 43% inside the arc, 39% outside the three-point line, but a miserable 9-17 from the line, including 3-9 in the second half, a point which Johnny Dawkins spoke about after the game, which led to the Cardinal comeback coming up just short. The Huskies made 47% of their shots from the field, including 52% after halftime, to lead them to the win. Washington made 50% of their shots from inside the arc, just 29% from outside the three-point line (2-7), but made 21 of 28 free throws (75%) to help lead them to the win. The Huskies outrebounded Stanford 39-34, although the Cardinal did beat them on the offensive glass by a 13-11 margin. This advantage, though, led to just 11 second chance points, while UW had 13 off their second opportunities. Stanford finished with just 14 points in the paint (Washington had a bruising 36), had 16 turnovers (only five, though, in the second twenty minutes), and 13 assists. Washington dished out just 10 assists on their 26 baskets, turned the ball over 15 times, but got eight fast break points (compared to just two for Stanford) in a critical victory for the Huskies.
Individually, Fields had a double-double for the Cardinal, netting 22 points and grabbing 10 rebounds, although he only had nine points and three boards after the half. Goods had 12, Green had 11 off the bench, and Johnson had eight to round out the top scorers for Stanford. For Washington, Pondexter led the way with 20 points and six rebounds (five offensive), while freshman sensation Thomas had 17. Brockman had an efficient, although relatively quiet, night despite getting 13 points and 12 rebounds on just 5-7 shooting. Off the pine, Overton had 11 points, five assists, and five steals in 27 minutes to help guide the Huskies to the win on the road.
After the game, Goods and Fields were both fairly quiet during the press conference, although a great sense of frustration was relayed when asked about the season thus far and their effort in this game. Coach Dawkins stressed that the team needed to keep fighting, taking one game at a time despite their 4-7 record in the Pacific-10 conference. With a tough stretch to come, including three games in a row on the road (@Cal, Oregon State, and Oregon), the Cardinal will have to take at least two of those three to give itself any chance of going to the Big Dance. Even that may not be enough as they still have a road trip to Arizona and then host USC and UCLA to end the season, but the Cardinal need to find ways to get some wins down the stretch if they hope to see any time in the postseason, whether it be the NCAA Tournament, NIT, or even the CBI.
The Cardinal get a chance to take out their frustration sooner rather than
later, hosting the Cal State Bakersfield Roadrunners at Maples on Tuesday night
at 7:30pm. Will a big win against the Division I Independent school be
enough to spur on a lasting run of victories over the next several weeks?
We shall all find out soon.
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