This Date in Cardinal Hoops: 3-17-95

The Bootleg's Mark DeVaughn looks back at when the "Big Dance" fun all really began for Stanford in the postseason, 1995, when the Cardinal won their first NCAA Tournament game since their run to the championship in 1942....There were Stanford heroes all around that fateful morning and it all happened fourteen years ago today... on This Day in Cardinal Hoops!

First Greensboro, then Cincinnati, now Albany. The trend appeared to continue, another eastern outpost hosting another Stanford first-round departure from the NCAA tournament. Just as the first St. Patrick's Day beers were being hoisted back home, the Cardinal confronted the painfully familiar on this date in 1995.

"Now we have to go home and take finals," shooting guard David Harbour said to himself from the bench, with North Carolina-Charlotte holding a late lead following the 9:30 a.m. (Pacific time) tipoff in New York's state capital.

But things changed, and a new streak began. For the first time since 1942, the program – seeded 10th in the East Region – won a game in the NCAA tournament. Coupled with his 13 points, two dynamic late moves by Brevin Knight were the difference in the 70-68 victory over the No. 7-seed 49ers.

The performance achieved closure for previous failures. Stanford practiced two days earlier at nearby Siena College, which shocked the third-seeded and No. 13-ranked Cardinal out of the 1989 Big Dance. Try as he did to downplay the prospect, head coach Mike Montgomery wanted no part of the "can't-win-a-tournament-game" label. Instead, it was the first of 11 straight tournament bids and 10 consecutive first-round victories for Stanford.

"Don't let him fool you," guard Dion Cross said of Monty's losses in previous years. "He thought about it."

The Cardinal (20-8) offered an interesting mix of youth and veterans. Tim Young started at center, a year after playing high school ball as a 7-foot prodigy at Santa Cruz. Harbour, and fellow fourth-year junior Andy Poppink was on the 1992 squad that reached the tournament as No. 12 seed, losing a close one to a Robert Horry and Latrell Sprewell-led Alabama squad.

The regular season continued the upward swing brought by the NIT berth of '94. There was an epic overtime loss at home to Arizona, but plenty of highlights.

Stanford went a respectable 5-6 against ranked opponents. Five Pac-10 teams, top-ranked and eventual national champion UCLA among them, reached the NCAA's. The Cardinal swept Cal. Uniformed officers led Oski out of Maples Pavilion in handcuffs when he and the Tree brawled during the Cardinal's win over the Bears February. Fittingly, the blues stayed home as the NCAA tournament took place.

Cross led all Stanford scorers with 17 points, making 5 of 11 from three-point range. Neither team pulled away, even after UNC-Charlotte held the Pac-10's third-place team scoreless for over seven minutes of the first half. The Cardinal was behind by five points when forward Darren Allaway fouled out with 4:46 seconds remaining. Young followed suit by soon drawing his fifth.

Enter Knight, whose parents made a rare appearance in the stands after making the trip from home in nearby New Jersey. Stanford trailed by a point as the game neared its one minute mark and Knight leading the break. The dynamic sophomore point guard coyly dished to Andy Poppink, who missed the layup, but made both foul shots to give Stanford the one-point lead (67-66) with 1:03 to play.

The 49ers waited only 13 seconds before trying to answer. Roderick Howard went for his fourth three-pointer in seven attempts, but the long rebound went to Knight. In the hands of plenty others, this could have been a very ill-advised fast break.

"When we were down by a point when Tim fouled out, we felt we had to keep doing what we were doing," Knight said. "We didn't want to panic and say, 'Tim's out. They've got a height advantage.'"

Instead, the three-on-one -- led by the capable hands of a player who produced six assists in the first of his four tournament wins on The Farm -- produced a clinching hoop. Cross flanked Knight to the right side, while Bart Lammersen trailed.

"I honestly thought it was a two-on-one,'' said Lammersen. "I was just running to clean up if there was a miss.''

Knight faked to Cross before passing in no-look fashion to Lammersen, a senior who then scored by far the biggest basket of his Stanford career.

"I caught a glimpse of Bart" Knight explained. "So I said, OK, I'll play it like a two-on-one. The defender was pretty far back. I faked it to Dion and the defender bit on the fake."

Harbour soon made one of two foul shots; Charlotte could only return fire with a meaningless basket at the buzzer. A weekend that saw an odd confluence of events in the sports world -- like replacements in place of striking ballplayers in Spring Training and Michael Jordan coming out of retirement -- also saw a huge burden lifted off Stanford's ninth-year head basketball coach.

"You know the longer you don't win, the more it becomes an issue,'' Montgomery said. "Now we've won and that's that. It makes it that much easier to answer questions.''

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