March 1, 2008
STANFORD, Calif. (AP) - Brook Lopez pounded his chest and screamed in celebration with each clutch play he made, getting the crowd roaring while fueling himself and his teammates in the process.
Lopez scored 19 of his 25 points after halftime, pulled down six rebounds and helped the eighth-ranked Cardinal maintain their hopes of winning the conference with a hard-fought 60-53 victory over No. 22 Washington State on Saturday.
Lopez was 11-for-16 from the field and had four blocks. He dunked on a putback with 2:52 to play to give the Cardinal the lead for good and converted two free throws at 1:39.
"I just didn't want to let the seniors go out like that," Lopez said. "We really wanted to stay in the Pac-10 race, you know, the Pac-10 championship. I was just trying to go as hard as I could, take it possession by possession, score and get a stop."
Stanford's sixth win in seven games sets up a showdown with first-place and fourth-ranked UCLA in Westwood on Thursday night with the conference championship at stake.
Derrick Low scored all 14 of his points in the first half, Aron Baynes added 10 points, five rebounds and two blocks before fouling out and Washington State blew it in the second half to lose for only the third time away from home. The Cougars, who led by as many as 14 in the first half, didn't score over the final 3:16 and went without a basket after Taylor Rochestie scored at 6:50.
Robin Lopez added 11 points, four boards and two blocks and Anthony Goods scored 10 points for the Cardinal (24-4, 13-3) in their sixth straight win at home since a 76-67 loss to UCLA on Jan. 3. They squeaked by Washington 82-79 on Thursday.
"From the 10-minute mark on we were as good as we've been all year," said Cardinal coach Trent Johnson, whose team hadn't rallied from 14 down all season. "We did everything right, and Brook and Robin led the way."
Taj Finger's 3-pointer with 4:03 to play tied the game at 51 and Stanford went ahead on Goods' free throw the next time down. The Cardinal, who went a school-record 16-1 at home this season, converted 18 of 25 free throws.
The comeback was fitting on a day Stanford honored its four departing players at midcourt before tipoff of the team's final home game - three seniors and junior Kenny Brown, who is headed to dental school. Johnson started Brook Lopez, Brown and the seniors: Fred Washington, Finger and Peter Prowitt. But he quickly went to his regulars 2:06 into the contest.
Brook Lopez banked in a jumper and was fouled with 7:58 to go and made the free throw to make it 47-45. WSU's Kyle Weaver made a bad pass for a turnover with 9:35 to play, then fouled Goods beyond the arc for three free throws. Goods made only one, getting Stanford within 44-42 with 9:08 left.
"Stanford's won a lot of close games this year late in the game because they don't beat themselves," Cougars coach Tony Bennett said. "You can't come into a place like this, play the No. 8 team in the country on their home court and expect to win if you don't play your best the entire 40 minutes. It was frustrating for us because we played such a great first half, but we couldn't hold them off."
Stanford, which also beat the Cougars in Pullman 67-65 in overtime on Feb. 2, opened the second half with a 6-1 spurt to pull within 35-28.
"We have the goal to win the conference championship, the tournament championship and the NCAA championship," Robin Lopez said.
Washington State (22-7, 10-7) had won five of six since a three-game skid that included the defeat to Stanford at Friel Court.
This was exactly the kind of low-scoring affair it was expected to be considering the teams' defensive-oriented styles.
Lopez and his brother combined to score 10 straight Stanford points midway through the second half and Brook pounded his chest after his basket with 11:56 to play pulled the Cardinal within 42-40 and forced Bennett to call time out.
A near-capacity crowd watched as the Cougars played stingy defense and matched up well with the 7-foot Lopez twins in the paint - for the first half at least.
"We had the momentum, but we knew Stanford was going to make a run," Rochestie said. "We beat ourselves with some dumb fouls and we let them get some open looks they shouldn't have had. They're going to be tough to beat in the tournament, because they keep getting better."