Cardinal Pull Out Rollercoaster Win in the Palouse

Unless you were one of the 2400 (yikes!) in attendance at Friel Court Thursday night, you missed one of the most exciting and ulcer-inducing contests of the season. Down by 14, up by five, then down again - Stanford experienced every ecstacy and agony in this overtime affair. Untelevised, few Cardinal fans could witness this drama, but KZSU's play-by-play man has the full recap of the 73-68 win over WSU for you.

With just 23 seconds to go in regulation, and the Cardinal down two, the Stanford offense was stagnant.  Julius Barnes, who finished with 16 points, answered the call for a hero and calmly drained a three from the left wing to put the Card up 61-60.  However, the Washington State Cougars, who had blown a 14-point lead on their home floor had one last chance to go for the win.  The Cougars put the ball in the hands of their hobbled star, Marcus Moore, the point guard who had come into the game with loose bone spurs in his ankle, and who aggravated the injury early in the first half battling for a loose ball and who gamely limped through the rest of the game.  With 10 seconds left, the southpaw began his drive against Barnes. However, just as he reached the left elbow, his ankle gave out on him for at least the fourth time, and as Moore fell to the floor, the ball squirted loose.  Chris Schlatter, WSU's leading scorer on the night, and the only one in double figures with 17, picked up the loose ball, pump faked once, then began to hoist the possible game winning shot.  On the way up, Barnes reached in and deflected the ball, but was called for the foul.  There was Schlatter, a 61% free throw shooter, on the line with 3.1 seconds to go in regulation and with a chance to give the Cougs their first conference win. Instead he bricked the first free throw, and drained the second, leaving the score knotted at 61-61.  On to overtime we went…

It was the Cardinal's first overtime game of the season, but they looked relaxed.  The Cougars seemed scared, almost as though they knew they let a beautiful chance for an upset slip through their paws.  Stanford controlled the tip and Nick Robinson drew a foul on the ensuing possession.  Although he missed the front end of the one-in-one free throw, a heinous basketball sin, he made up for it by battling for the rebound and getting the putback. The Cardinal would never trail in overtime, and after a Lottich bank shot off a drive plus clutch free throw shooting from Barnes and Rob Little, had themselves their biggest lead of the game at 68-62.  In fact Stanford's final nine points of the night came at the line as the Cougars were forced to foul to stop the clock.  The final tally showed Stanford on top at the end of the extra period, 73-68.

For the second straight Thursday, the Cardinal sleepwalked through the first half against a lesser opponent, falling behind 40-26 at the break.  The Cardinal simply didn't look ready to play at the beginning of the game and committed five turnovers in the first six minutes as the Cougars clawed their way to a 16-5 advantage.  Marcus Moore scored the first five points of the game, but after falling awkwardly out of bounds, hobbled off, and wouldn't be the same the rest of the game.  Moore limped around the court for the remainder, absent his usual explosiveness.  The other Cougars picked up for the fallen member of their pack, combining to shoot 7-13 from three in the first half and 46% overall, and picking up seven offensive rebounds.  The Cardinal offense appeared to have remained in Palo Alto.  Stanford shot 27% from beyond the arc, and had only five assists to 10 turnovers.  This all added up to a 40-26 Cougar advantage at intermission.

On the very first possession of the second half, Barnes picked Moore's pocket on the perimeter, and took it the other way for a lay-up.  It was the Cardinal's first transition bucket of the game, and only their second steal. It also signaled a return to the defensive intensity that the Cardinal needs to win games.  Following another turnover and a Nick Robinson drive and lay-up, and more Rob Little three throws, Stanford was down eight, but had a bounce in their step.  The run was temporarily halted by Chris Schlatter's three to push the WSU lead to 11.

Then, in a bold move by the Stanford coaching staff, the team went into a zone, daring the Cougars to continue to beat them from the outside.  The Cougar offense, which in the first half had been based on penetration and kickouts, all but died as they swung the ball around the perimeter, but couldn't get looks against Stanford's version of the 2-3.  Stanford meanwhile would go on a 19-3 run where it seemed like everything was going right: Matt Lottich and Julius Barnes connected on threes; Nick Robinson and Josh Childress were driving and getting to the rim for easy lay-ups; and Rob Little was cleaning up mistakes with offensive rebounds and follows. Stanford was up five, 52-47, and seemed to relax.

Now it was the Cougars' turn as they reeled off eight unanswered, to retake the lead, while Stanford misfired from the outside.  The Cougar lead was 60-56 before Barnes connected on a fade-away jumper from the baseline, to make it 60-58, setting up the dramatic finish.

Notes:

  • It was the Cardinal's first overtime since their dramatic 90-87 victory over Oregon last season at Maple when Tony Giovachini hit a three to tie it with four seconds left at 78-78.
  • Stanford keeps alive their win streak against Wazzu, now standing at 13 straight games.  The win also keeps alive their chance to extend their streak of road sweeps at the Washington schools, at five and looking for the sixth Saturday.  The current road streak is the longest in the Pac-10.
  • The Cardinal free throw shooting was huge down the stretch, finishing at 67% on the game.  The team went 8-11 in overtime.  Rob Little (6-8) and Josh Childress (5-6) each took much longer at the line, making sure to make every shot count.  This is a welcome change for the Pac-10's worst free throw shooting team, and a big reason why the Card won tonight.
  • The starters played a ton of minutes and scored 71 out of 73 Stanford points.  Each starter reached double figures, as Matt Lottich led the way with 17 points, and Josh Childress had his first double-double of the Pac-10 season with 13 points and 11 rebounds.  Six of his boards were offensive, making sure the team didn't miss Justin Davis too much.  The only bench player to see significant time in the second half was Matt Haryasz who had two rebounds in 10 minutes for the game.
  • Justin Davis dressed and sat on the bench, but no one seems optimistic that he'll play against UW Saturday.  Apparently, the pain in his knee is simply too limiting.
  • The Stanford cheering section was small, but did include Matt Lottich's father and Tyler Besecker's family.  Yeah, family!!

Complete game box score


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