Look, on the left wing! It's a bird, it's a plane, no it's Matt Lottich!! All of a sudden, with seven minutes to go in the tonight's game, Lotty did his best Superman/Casey Jacobsen impression. Lottich scored 18 of Stanford's final 22 points, to set a new career high with 23 points as he almost single-handedly revived a dormant Stanford offense.
It all started innocently enough. Coming out of the eight minute media timeout, Matt knocked down a long jumper with his foot on the three-point line to cut the Beavers' lead to 12. Two Brian Jackson free throws later, the lead was back to 14, and it looked like Stanford was still in trouble. However Lottich, a streaky shooter, got hot just when he and his team needed it the most. He knocked down threes on consecutive possessions from the left wing, bringing Maples to its feet. Of course, just as important was that on the defensive end, the Cardinal started getting stops, and playing the type of defense the coaches demand. The Beavers would go an incredible six minutes between field goals. Philip Ricci, their main threat inside, fouled out, and none of the guards were able to break down their men and get open looks. With the Cardinal still down six, Lottich finally missed when he put up a three with a hand in his face; the Cardinal, alive again, controlled the offensive rebound, and would corral another miss - this time from Julius Barnes. This possession would only end after Lottich's fourth three-pointer of the half swished home. Stanford would take its first lead of the game with 1:22 remaining, 54-53, as Matt (who else?) converted a one-and-one free throw situation. That lead lasted only thirty seconds, though, as David Lucas tied it by shooting 1-of-2 at the line.
The Beavers having watched a 14-point lead disappear before their eyes, went into full desperation mode and crashed the offensive boards hard after their next miss. Someone went over Rob Little's back, sending the sophomore big man to the line to shoot his biggest free throws of his Stanford career. Not fazed, the big guy who finished with 12 points and 11 boards for his first career double-double, made both to put Stanford up two with just 25 seconds left. Maples was as quiet as a nearly full Stanford Stadium could be when Rob went to the line. You could clearly hear Rob bounce the ball in preparation for each shot, as the house hushed in anticipation. Each shot bounced around the rim, threatening to fall off, before ducking down through the net as the building exhaled massive sighs of relief. Julius Barnes would add one of two free throws on Stanford's next possession. He was visibly frustrated after missing the first one, but the senior delivered on the second to make it at least a three point game.
Stanford started the game half asleep. The Beavers jumped out to a 7-0 lead and took it into the first media time out. Stanford turned the ball over its first six trips down the floor, as well as missing consecutive shots from point-blank range. For the rest of the first half, Stanford trailed by about nine as the team failed to execute the offense at all, or play with much energy on D. Before the game, Coach Russell Turner had complained about the team's propensity to bring its offense to the defensive end of the floor. If things go bad, like the shots don't fall, then the defense suffers, and the team finds itself in a big hole. The half time stats were horrifying: 4 assists, 12 turnovers, 2 free throws attempted. The defense allowed the Beavers to shoot 45% and generated only one steal, while giving up seven offensive rebounds. In the second half on the other hand, the Card held the Beavers to 21 points on 23% shooting from the field, and stole four balls. The Cardinal's second half run was fueled not just by Lottich's three point bombing, but by a hustle play on the preceding possessions. Nick Robinson drove the right side of the lane, beating his man, and took on the whole Beaver front line to get to the rim. Although he missed the lay-up, he got his own rebound. Stanford swung the ball to find Josh Childress on the far side. Since the OSU defense was still sliding, J-Chill got aggressive, drove baseline, and threw it down for a two-handed dunk. Perhaps that aggressiveness got his teammates' attention.
Notes: Stanford forward Justin Davis, who injured his medial collateral ligament in the Cardinal's loss to Cal on Saturday, dressed but did not play. He is questionable for Saturday's match up with Oregon, and much depends on how much he can do in practice Friday and how he feels Saturday... Maples was not full for the first conference home game. If you live in the Bay Area, go to Saturday's game against the #10 Ducks. Haas Pavilion at Berkeley is scary; Maples should be just as imposing.