The Stanford Cardinal came into tonight's Pacific Life Pac-10 Tournament Semifinal versus the Washington Huskies off a "Where did that come from?" upset of the Arizona State Sun Devils the previous evening at Staples Center. The question on the minds of everyone was could the Cardinal use the momentum from their 70-61 win to propel them even further than most imagined in this single-elimination tourney? Unfortunately, the Cardinal could not take advantage of a poor shooting start by Washington and by the time Huskies were heating up on both ends of the floor, Stanford still could not find their footing, falling to their foes from Seattle by a final score of 79-64. Stanford ends the regular season at 14-18, while Washington moves to 23-9 and advances to the championship game versus the California Golden Bears, winners earlier in the night over the UCLA Bruins, 85-72.
Both teams opened up the game a little sluggish, missing six of their first seven combined shots from the floor, the only made basket coming from an offensive rebound and high-boarding layup from Jeremy Green, before Venoy Overton made good on an offensive board of his own, giving the Huskies an early 4-2 lead just over five minutes into the game. The early pace and general way the game was being played favored UW as scrambling and rebounding was the tone set by the higher seeded team from the get go. Could Stanford find a way to slow things down and play the game at a pace which was instrumental in getting their win over Arizona State the previous night?
The pace slowed down a tad after the break, but both teams still could not find a good shooting rhythm, spending the next three minutes equaling their point total from the first five as an Andrew Zimmerman baseline jumper off an inbounds play tied the game up, 6-6, before both squads headed back to the bench to try and regroup and concentrate a bit more on making baskets out on the floor. Unfortunately, helter-skelter play continued to reign as the Cardinal couldn't hold onto the ball and the Huskies couldn't seem to buy a basket. A Quincy Pondexter move inside the lane gave UW a lead, a Matthew Bryan-Amaning free throw increased the small edge, and two freebies from Justin Holiday, combined with three offensive fouls by Stanford, brought the Huskies up by five halfway through the first half, 11-6.
A putback of a Landry Fields miss by Jack Trotter finally brought an end to a painful stretch of offensive basketball for the Farm Boys, but a three-point play from Holiday quickly stopped any chance of the Cardinal putting together back-to-back baskets and getting themselves right back in the ball game. After two misses at the free throw line by Fields, Isaiah Thomas canned two of his own after a loose ball foul was called on Green, putting Washington up eight, 16-8, with just over seven minutes to go in the half. UW would grow the lead to 10, 20-10, after two Pondexter free throws before the Cardinal seemed to briefly awaken from their stupor, getting four in a row from Fields, until a wide open Scott Suggs three-pointer over the Stanford zone stopped the momentum. An Emmanuel Igbinosa three-pointer seemed to spark the Cardinal, but a Shiller three-pointer after a UW turnover rimmed out, preventing Stanford from getting any closer. A Thomas jumper from the left elbow with under 15 seconds left in the half gave Washington a 28-19 advantage going into the locker room.
Stanford came out in the second half searching for some answers, but Pondexter opened the scoring with a three-point play, before a Jarrett Mann free throw and Fields offensive putback cut the lead back to nine. Thomas nailed a three-pointer from the right wing and a miss by Stanford led to a fast break dunk by Pondexter, prompting head coach Johnny Dawkins to call a timeout to try to compose his troops as they saw their chance of making conference tournament history slipping away fast early in the second half. The break called by the Cardinal head man appeared to help as Trotter hit two free throws and Zimmerman hit a jumper in the paint, edging the lead back down to 12 before Thomas hit three free throws after being hit by Zimmerman on a three-point attempt in the left corner as the big guy was late coming over in the zone alignment. On the ensuing possession, Green finally made a three-pointer and Mann hit two charity stripe attempts shortly thereafter, bringing the Huskies lead down to just 10, 41-31. An Overton trifecta, though, stopped the Cardinal flow as the Huskies grew the lead back to 15 with just over 13 minutes to go in the contest.
Fields, though, wouldn't let Stanford go quietly, making a tough layup off a Trotter miss and two free throws to edge the lead back down to 11 just before the media break. Thomas and Green traded free throws to keep the margin at 11. Unfortunately, an opportunity to get the lead down to under nine was missed and UW began to pull away from Stanford, using just enough hot shooting with some bad misses (and a technical foul by a frustrated Mann) by Stanford to open up the lead to 20 after a thunderous, one-handed dunk on a breakaway by Bryan-Amaning that brought the house down. The lead would grow to as many as 22 before Igbinbosa tried to rally the troops, hitting back-to-back three-pointers from the left corner. However, the Huskies continued to make shots from all parts of the paint, exploiting the Cardinal's weakness inside. A Mann three-point play and two Fields free throws got Stanford to within 16 with just three minutes to go, but two fast break dunks by Darnell Gant sealed the deal for the Huskies. The final slap in the face for Stanford was when they called a timeout with 2:03 left after a Shiller layup, but didn't have one left in their pocket, leading to two technical free throws and another fast break dunk by Gant, this time off of an alley-oop as the Huskies easily beat the Cardinal's press. The Cardinal could not get the lead down to any lower than the final margin of 15, getting that to happen as Elliott Bullock made a layup seconds before the buzzer.
For the contest, Stanford shot 31% from the field, 26% (6-23) at the three-point line, and 69% (18-26) from the charity stripe. Washington made 41% of their field goals, including 25% from the three-point arc. The Huskies drained 86% of their free throws, making 25 of their 29 attempts. Washington outrebounded Stanford 43-42, though the Cardinal grabbed more offensive rebounds (16-12) on the night. The Cardinal tallied 10 assists and 11 turnovers for the evening, while UW had 15 assists and nine turnovers.
Fields led the way for Stanford with 20 points and 14 rebounds on 6-15
shooting, while Igbinosa was next in line with 11 points off the bench.
Green and Mann both had seven, but the sophomore gunner from Texas, along with
Shiller, combined to shoot 3-24 from the field, including a paltry 2-15 from
beyond the arc. Washington was led by Pondexter's 19 points on 5-12
shooting (9-9 from the free throw line). The senior from Fresno was
followed by Thomas' 17 and Holiday's 11. Bryan-Amaning finished with nine
points and a team high 11 rebounds.
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