The Stanford Cardinal came into tonight's College Basketball Invitational First Round game versus the Boise State Broncos looking to close out a season which started off promising, but landed short of expectations as the Cardinal struggled in Pac-10 Conference play. Trying to make one last run as a group, Stanford's seniors started off their postseason run in front of a boisterous announced crowd of 1243, including Bootleg dignitaries such as Mike Eubanks, Jim Rutter, and Cameron Tana, defeating Boise State by a final score of 96-76. Stanford moves its season record to 19-13, while the Broncos finish the year with an identical 19-13 mark.
Stanford started off the game well, making eight of their first 12 shots, along with forcing the Broncos into four early turnovers, to take a 20-9 lead with 13:56 to go. That fact was not lost on Boise State head coach Greg Graham, who felt that the Cardinal "came out on fire [and] put us on our heels right away," something they preached against coming into the game. The early catalyst for the Cardinal was Lawrence Hill, who had seven on 3-5 shooting. A three-pointer from the right wing by Drew Shiller gave Stanford their biggest lead at 12, 23-11, before Boise State moved into a zone defense, stifling the red hot Cardinal offense. The defense maneuver, along with some timely shots by the Broncos, cut Stanford's edge down to five after a 11-4 run, before Landry Fields and Kenny Brown scored on transition baskets to bump the advantage back to nine, 31-22, with 8:22 remaining in the first half.
After some helter-skelter play by both squads, including several open jump shot misses on each end, the Cardinal concluded a 9-0 run over 3:40 with a steal/layup/free throw by Hill, pushing the lead to 14, 36-22, with just over five minutes left in the half. Even after BSU big man Kurt Cunningham stopped the bleeding with one of his first half 16 points, the Cardinal continued to push the ball up and down the court, ending the first 20 minutes of play outscoring the Broncos 15-7, getting the lead up to 20, 51-31, at the break. The 51 points were the most Boise State has allowed in the first half all season.
At the half, Stanford was shooting 53% from the field, 45% from beyond the three-point line, and had made all eight of their free throws. Boise State finished the half making 42% of their shots overall, 27% on three-point attempts, and was 2-2 from the free throw line. The Cardinal outrebounded the Broncos 20-15, including 7-5 on the offensive end. Stanford really shined in points off turnovers, getting 16 to BSU's three. Both teams had nine assists, but the Cardinal turned the ball over just six times to Boise State's 11.
Individually, Stanford was led by Hill's 14 points on 6-9 shooting. Fields scored nine, Jeremy Green had eight off the bench, and Anthony Goods scored seven. Boise State was led by Cunningham's 16 off the bench in just 12 minutes of play. Next in line for BSU was Anthony Thomas with six. No other Bronco tallied more than four.
The second half of the game saw the Cardinal come out and try to put Boise State away. Fields had a breakaway one-hand jam, followed by a baseline dunk that brought the crowd to its feet. Mitch Johnson then started another break by making a spin move past a defender trying to steal the pass to him, then getting open for a left wing three-pointer which was pure nylon. The triple gave Stanford their biggest lead of the game, 61-35, with 17:06 left in the contest and forced Broncos head coach Greg Graham to call a timeout. Boise State came out of their huddle playing zone, again slowing down Stanford's offensive game. Two quick baskets by Aaron Garner and La'Shard Anderson, followed by another left corner three from Garner trimmed the lead down to 20, 65-45, but a long three-pointer by Green stopped the mini-run by the Broncos.
Boise State would continue to try to cut into the lead, getting it down to 18 twice before the 10-minute mark, but timely buckets by Hill, Green, and Fields kept the Broncos at bay. The Cardinal went on a 12-3 run over a 3:09 span, punctuated by a transition dunk by Goods (who drew a T for hanging and swinging off the rim a bit), giving Stanford an 88-61 advantage with 5:29 remaining in the game. The Broncos would make one more desperation run at the Cardinal, outgunning Stanford 15-8 to end the game, but the lead was too big for the Broncos to overcome in the end.
For the contest, Stanford shot 54% from the floor, 38% beyond the arc, and a solid 12-14 at the free throw line. Boise State finished the game at an even 50% from the field, 23% from deep, and made just five of eight free throws. Boise State narrowly outrebounded Stanford, 34-33, 11-10 on the offensive glass, but committed 22 turnovers to the Cardinal's 12 on the evening. Each team dished the ball nicely for baskets with Stanford tallying 20 assists to 18 for the visitors. Boise State outpointed Stanford in the paint, 44-36, but the Cardinal got 27 points off Bronco turnovers, outscoring BSU by 16 in that department.
The Cardinal attack (the 96 points were the most scored by a Stanford in any postseason contest) was led by Green's 19 off the bench on 7-11 shooting. Hill finished the game with 18 points on 8-12 shooting to go along with his team high six rebounds, while Fields netted 16 on 6-8 shots for Stanford. Goods, Johnson, Owens, and Shiller tallied 34 points in the winning effort. Boise State was led by Cunningham as the big man got 26 points and six rebounds on 11-16 shooting in just 25 minutes off the pine. Ike Okoye scored 14 points and grabbed a team leading eight boards, while Garner was the only other player in double figures for the Broncos, getting 13 in a losing cause.
After the game, head coach Johnny Dawkins addressed the crowd, thanking them for their support all season, before talking to the media. Dawkins thought that the game was "well-played by our guys" and that the team was prepared for the Broncos and "not surprised at how our team responded" to the challenge in front of them. Hill and Green also talked about getting another chance to play in front of their home crowd, especially considering how well they played last time at home, a comeback win on Senior Night versus the eventual Pac-10 Tournament Champions, the USC Trojans. In regards to playing in the CBI, Dawkins made sure that the team was ready, telling the Cardinal that there are "four of those champions at the end of this month" and that "our goal is to be one of those teams." Dawkins summed it up best telling the media they he was "still hungry to play [and that] they are still hungry to play."
Fortunately, Stanford will be able to play again, as they will take on the
Wichita State Shockers in Kansas on Monday night at a time to be
determined. (The CBI Quarterfinal matchup could be one of two selected to
be televised by HDNet, but that is unknown as of press time.) Not much is
known about Wichita State by the Cardinal players and staff, however Hill was
confident that the coaches were already working "their tails off" in preparation
for that game which falls during the beginning of Stanford's spring break.
Wichita State is coming off an 84-73 win at home over Buffalo, shooting 60% from
the floor. To beat the Shockers, the Cardinal will have to play a similar
game on the road in front of what should be a hostile crowd if they wish to
advance into the semifinals of this tournament. If tonight is any
indication of the attitude and play that Stanford brings into this postseason,
the Cardinal has as good as shot as any to be one of those four tournament
champions when the season is done.
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