Going into their game in Tempe, the Stanford Cardinal had not won a road game since defeating the Santa Clara Broncos on December 23rd, 77-69, in a non-conference tilt versus their West Coast Conference neighbor. The Arizona State Sun Devils, ranked in the Top 25, weren't expecting to be hospitable towards their Pac-10 brethren, having beaten Stanford 90-60 at Maples Pavilion to open up conference play in early January. However, the Cardinal had revenge on their minds and found a way to lead virtually wire-to-wire, defeating Arizona State on Thursday evening by a final score of 74-64. Stanford moved to 17-11 on the season, 6-11 in conference. Arizona State fell to 21-8, 10-7 in Pac-10 play.
The contest got off to a weird start and continued with that vibe throughout the entire night as both teams missed plenty of shots before the Cardinal's Lawrence Hill made the first field goal of the game, giving Stanford a Cactus League lead of 2-1 with 16:49 to go. The visitors would run off six more in a row while causing Arizona State to cough up the ball multiple times on the offensive end with hard-nosed defensive play before James Harden made his squad's first field goal of the game at the 11:55 mark, cutting Stanford's lead to 8-3. From there, the Cardinal found their stroke from deep as Goods and Green both made three-pointers, the latter's giving Stanford a 16-6 edge with 8:44 remaining in the first half. Stanford continued to stretch the lead slowly from there, getting up by as many as 13 before Arizona State finally found their footing on both ends of the floor. Two free throws by Jeff Pendergraph with 55 seconds remaining brought ASU to within 32-26 at the half.
For the half, Stanford shot a respectable 43% from the field, made 33% of their deep shots, and was 5-7 from the free throw line. Arizona State had recovered from a cold start, but still finished the half making 35% of their shots from the field, 25% of their attempts from beyond the arc, and was 10-12 from the charity stripe. Stanford outrebounded ASU 16-15, had seven assists to their two, and turned the ball over six times to the Sun Devils' eight. Individually, Stanford was led by Landry Fields and Goods who had eight points each. Harden and Pendergraph led the Sun Devils with 11 and seven, respectively.
Unlike the past few second halves, Stanford came out with fire in their eyes, scoring the first eight points of the second stanza with baskets coming from Fields, Hill, and Josh Owens, including a wonderfully executed transition alley-oop dunk from Mitch Johnson to Owens, giving Stanford a 40-26 edge with just over 16 minutes remaining. Arizona State would stay down double digits until a 7-0 run over a 1:40 span cut the Cardinal's lead down to seven, 44-37, with 11:57 remaining. The lead, however, would not shrink beyond that margin over the next few minutes as the teams battled back and forth for the next several minutes. The Cardinal, up nine with 5:36, went for the knockout and appeared to get it after a fadeaway by Goods and a right corner three-pointer from Kenny Brown put Stanford up 14, 61-47, with 3:59 left in the game. It was a tense last four minutes, however the Cardinal would knock down 12 of their final 14 free throws and now allow the Sun Devils to get any closer than eight down the stretch to seal their first conference road victory of the 2008-09 season.
Stanford shot 50% for the game, including a scintillating 58% in the second half against a tough Arizona State defense. The Cardinal finished the game just 4-14 from beyond the arc, but made 18 of 23 free throws to help finish out the victory. Arizona State ended the game shooting just 36% from the field, eight of 30 (27%) beyond the arc, and 80% at the charity stripe. ASU outrebounded Stanford 34-30, including 14-10 on the offensive glass. The Cardinal dished out 13 assists and turned the ball over just 10 times, while the Sun Devils passed out 10 assists, but committed 14 turnovers.
Individually, Fields led the Cardinal with 20 points on 8-12 shooting, while Goods had 15, Hill tallied 13, and Brown contributed 12 off the bench. Hill also led the team with six rebounds. Harden led the Sun Devils with 22 points, but was just 8-20 from the field. Pendergraph had 15 points and 11 boards, but only had four field goal attempts, compared to 14 free throws tries. Rihards Kuksiks was the only other player in double figures, netting 14 on 5-15 shooting, including 4-12 from beyond the arc.
What will head coach Johnny Dawkins and the Cardinal do for encore after this surprising win over the Sun Devils? Fans will find out soon as Stanford will look to build on its two-game winning streak by taking on the Arizona Wildcats at the McKale Center on Saturday afternoon at 4:30pm.
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