The Stanford Cardinal came into Saturday night's game versus the USC Trojans looking to get a win for not only themselves as a whole, but for a senior class of Anthony Goods, Kenny Brown, Lawrence Hill, and Mitch Johnson which has seen many ups and downs over its years on the Farm. Despite another tough beginning to a second half, Stanford found the intestinal fortitude, along with great pressure defense and timely three-point shooting, to pull out a 75-63 victory in front of a full house at Maples Pavilion. Stanford is now 16-11 this season, 5-11 in the Pac-10. USC falls to 16-12, 7-9 in the league.
For the first 14 minutes, it was an ugly affair for both squads as each struggled to make shots. A Brown three-pointer cut a USC lead to one, 21-20, before Stanford switched their defense to a 2-3 zone. The move backfired as the Trojans went on an extended 8-0 run over the next 2:42 to go up nine with under four minutes to play. The Cardinal would battle back, getting six points from Goods to cut the lead to four, 33-29, at the half.
In the first half, Stanford shot 36% from the field, but 60% from the three-point line. The Cardinal also hit just three of five free throws. USC, on the other hand, made 57% of their shots from the field, hit two of three from beyond the arc, but was just 5-11 from the free throw line. Stanford outrebounded USC 19-14, including 10-5 on the offensive glass. However, the Cardinal only got four second chance points, while USC tallied seven on its limited opportunities. USC had 10 assists and just five turnovers, while Stanford had six assists and turned the ball over nine times.
The leading scorer for Stanford was Goods with 11 on 4-5 shooting. He was followed by Johnson's six. Fields off the bench had three assists, but no points. Owens led the squad with eight rebounds (five offensive), but just two points at the half. USC was led by Taj Gibson's 13 points and six rebounds. Demar DeRozan had 10 points, but no one else had more than three for the Trojans.
The second half started as most have as of late for Stanford with their opponent opening up a lead quickly on the Cardinal. A Gibson dunk with 16:15 to go capped a 8-2 run to open the second stanza, giving the Trojans a 41-31 lead. The turning point in the game seemed to occur at 14:34 left when Hill was intentionally fouled by Gibson on a fast break opportunity, leading to two free throws for the senior. Even though Dwight Lewis would score to make it 46-35 with exactly 14 minutes left in the contest, Stanford seemed to grab some momentum after the call on the junior big man for USC. Goods, Fields, and Brown would make their next four shots, three of them from beyond the arc, to get Stanford within four, 50-46, at the 11:37 mark. Two Gibson free throws would give the Trojans a 54-48 edge with 10:15 left, but the Cardinal began to employ a full-court press, creating chaos and opportunities for Stanford as the Trojans began to rush their shots. A jumper by Hill and a huge three-pointer by Brown finally cut the lead to one, sending Maples Pavilion into a frenzy.
Johnson would draw a foul in the lane and make both free throws, giving Stanford their first lead of the game, 55-54, with 8:57 to go. From there, the Cardinal continued their hot streak from the field as Fields made a three-pointer, Hill converted a three-point play over Gibson, and "Downtown" Brown made a three-pointer on one of the more memorable moments of the season, making the shot from the left corner right after running down and flipping a Goods miss over his head to Fields, who then found the senior wide open for the big play, sending the Maples Pavilion contingent into celebration mode as Stanford had opened up an eight-point lead, 66-58, with 4:39 remaining. Lewis quieted the crowd down after he made a layup and was fouled, but he missed the free throw and Hill would duplicate his "And 1" from earlier, giving the Cardinal a 69-60 lead with 4:06 left in the contest. The Trojans scored just three more points, the last ones in the game, as the Cardinal had completed a comeback most thought looked improbable as the second half started.
Stanford shot just 43% from the field, but made 12 of 22 three-pointers and were 17 of 20 from the free throw line, including 14-14 in the second half. USC finished the contest shooting an even 50% from the field and 33% from beyond the arc, but were just 9-21 from the free throw line. The Cardinal outrebounded the Trojans 33-29, including 14-12 on the offensive glass. Both teams dished out 14 assists. USC tripled Stanford's output in the paint, 42-14, but the Cardinal bench outscored USC's 11-2 in the win.
Individually, Stanford was led by Goods' 20 points on 7-10 shooting. Brown and Hill each added 14, while Johnson got 10 for the winning side. USC was led by Gibson's 19 on 7-10 shooting, but he only had six after the break. DeRozan had 14, Marcus Simmons had 11, Lewis had nine, and Daniel Hackett had eight for the Trojans.
After the game, Anthony Goods, Kenny Brown, and head coach Johnny Dawkins were happy with the victory. Goods and Brown both attributed the comeback to their commitment to defense. They all believe this season is not over and that if they sustain this type of effort for 40 minutes a game, they have a chance to potentially reach the postseason.
Stanford will hope to take the momentum from tonight's win and carry it over
to their last Pac-10 Conference road trip of the year. They'll first take
on Arizona State on Thursday night at 5:30pm from Wells Fargo Arena. The
Cardinal will end the season on Saturday with a game versus Arizona at the
McKale Center. That game is slated for a 4:30pm tip. Whether or not
the Cardinal can win down in the desert (and beyond), the Cardinal can certainly
be proud of their effort tonight versus the Trojans and happy they sent the
seniors off their home court with a hard earned victory.
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