Winning Pac-10 basketball games away from Maples Pavilion is proving to be a difficult task for the Stanford men's basketball team. Two days after losing to Oregon State in Corvallis, the Cardinal dropped its seventh straight conference road decision, this time to the previously winless Oregon Ducks, 68-60, at McArthur court in Eugene. The loss, which was Stanford's seventh in seven Pac-10 road games, dropped the Cardinal to 15-10 overall and 4-10 in Pac-10 play, while the Ducks improved to 7-20 on the season and 1-14 in league play.
The Cardinal, who were missing Will Paul to begin the game due to an injured thigh, inserted freshman Jeremy Green into the starting lineup over Anthony Goods for the first time this year. Paul's absence also forced head coach Johnny Dawkins to reinsert Josh Owens into the starting lineup, and when Owens picked up two fouls in the game's first 1:02, Stanford was in trouble.
Despite the best efforts of walk on post players Jack Trotter and Elliot Bullock, the Ducks had a field day down low, outscoring Stanford 16-6 in the paint in the first half. The Cardinal were only able to keep the game close due to the efforts of Landry Fields and Lawrence Hill, who contributed seven and nine points respectively, as Stanford finished out the first half down 29-28.
As the second half began, Owens returned to the floor, but Oregon's dominance in the paint continued. "Really I thought we gave up too many second chance opportunities to them to be quite frank," Dawkins admitted. "You look at the box score in second chance points - it's six to 24. They were able to really capitalize on going to the boards and finishing."
Nevertheless, after a rough start to the second half, Stanford began to find its rhythm. After trailing 37-30 with 17:04 left, the Cardinal outscored Oregon 20-7 over the game's next 7:17 to turn the seven point deficit into a 50-45 lead. But as has been the case in several other close road losses, Stanford failed to make big shots and come up with stops down the stretch.
The teams traded baskets until with 2:15 remaining in the game, Oregon freshman guard Matthew Humphrey hit what was likely the biggest shot of his Ducks career, a three-pointer from the corner, to give the Ducks a 59-56 lead and send Mac Court into bedlam. "Humphrey made a great shot," Fields said. "That was one of the few daggers they put into us."
After a Hill jumper from the top of the key, ruled to be just inside the three-point arc after a lengthy video review by the officials, made it a one-point game, Kamyron Brown made his first basket of the game, a three-pointer from just left of straightaway with the shot clock winding, giving Oregon a four-point lead, 62-58, with just over a minute remaining.
On the Cardinal's next possession, Goods hit a pair of free throws to cut the
deficit to two points with 57 seconds left, but Stanford couldn't contain the
Ducks with the game on the line. As the shot clock neared zero, Josh Crittle was fouled on a drive to the basket, earning two free throws. After
making the first, he missed the second, but was bailed out when 6'6" forward
Joevan Catron was able to grab the offensive rebound. After Tajuan Porter
was fouled after a Stanford timeout, he calmly sank two free throws, giving
Oregon a 65-60 lead. On the next Cardinal possession, Green's pass was stolen by
Humphrey, who raced the length of the court for a layup and a foul with 6.5
seconds left, effectively icing the game for the Ducks. Goods' 3
point shot at the buzzer was well off the mark, leaving Oregon fans to storm the
court, celebrating the Ducks' first Pac-10 win since last March.
"I thought they (Oregon) played well," Dawkins said. "I thought they outplayed us and deserved the game. I thought they really played inspired and really got some good contributions from some of their guys. It showed up in the end – they made some plays. Give them a lot of credit – they fight."
Fields led Stanford with 19 points and eight rebounds, while Hill added 18 points. Michael Dunigan led the Ducks with 14 points and eight boards, six of them on the offensive side of the ledger.
With only four games left for Stanford to try to salvage what can only be described as a disappointing season in Pac-10 play, the Cardinal next battle UCLA at Maples Pavilion on Thursday at 7:30.
- This marked the first time sine 1994-1995 that Stanford was swept by the Ducks and Beavers on its annual Oregon road trip.
- With the loss, Stanford is assured of its first losing season in Pac-10 play since 1993.
- When asked about why he started Green in the place of Goods, Dawkins explained, "He (Green) played really well the night before, (so) he deserves an opportunity. He'd been practicing well, he'd been playing well, and he deserved an opportunity to get in the lineup to get out there and contribute."
- The official review on Hill's two-point basket from the top of the key with 1:43 remaining in the second half appeared to be signaled as a three on the floor, and was only reversed after a delay of at least five minutes. In his press conference, Duck coach Ernie Kent explained what took so much time. "Well one ref called it a two and said he was sure the foot was on the line, the other called it a three and wasn't really sure, so they had to go to the monitor and look at it. They couldn't really tell one way or another from the monitor. I looked at it and of course I could tell, and I'm sure Johnny looked at it and of course he could tell, so that's probably what took them so long."
- Both Dawkins and Fields denied that overconfidence had a role in the
defeat. "We've known they play hard for 40 minutes no matter who they
play," Dawkins said. "They've done that even though their record doesn't reflect
that. They've never quit." Fields added, "I don't think we were coming in
overconfident at all. We know what this team (Oregon) is capable of doing."
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