March 14, 2008
LOS ANGELES (AP)--Brook Lopez and the Stanford Cardinal were simply too big and too strong for Washington State.
Lopez had 30 points and 12 rebounds, and the 11th-ranked Cardinal beat No. 21 Washington State 75-68 Friday night in the semifinals of the Pac-10 Conference to continue their domination of the Cougars.
Lawrence Hill scored 14 points and Robin Lopez had nine points and eight rebounds for the second-seeded Cardinal (26-6), who advanced to Saturday's championship game against No. 3 UCLA. The top-seeded Bruins (30-3) beat fourth-seeded Southern California 57-54 earlier Friday night for their ninth straight victory.
The four semifinalists are assured of NCAA tournament berths. What's unclear is how many other Pac-10 teams will get a bid when invitations go out Sunday.
Mitch Johnson had eight assists for the Cardinal, who swept the Cougars during the regular season and have won 24 of the last 27 games between the teams.
Stanford has played in the tournament finals twice, beating Washington to win the championship four years ago and losing to Arizona in 1989.
Kyle Weaver had a career-high 25 points and 12 rebounds to lead the third-seeded Cougars (24-8). Derrick Low added 15 points, Daven Harmeling scored 13, and Taylor Rochestie had 11 points and five assists for Washington State.
The taller Cardinal outrebounded the Cougars 37-28. WSU stayed in the game by making 12-of-20 shots from 3-point range to 2-of-10 for Stanford.
The Cardinal appeared to take an insurmountable lead when they scored 10 straight points including four each by Hill and Robin Lopez for a 67-54 lead with 3:35 remaining.
But the Cougars came back, taking advantage of some shoddy foul shooting by Stanford, and Weaver's follow shot with 24.3 seconds left made it 71-68. But Taj Finger made two free throws with 21 seconds left and Johnson added another pair with nine seconds to play to complete the scoring.
Stanford led 39-32 when Low suddenly got hot, making three 3-pointers without a miss in an 84-second span around two baskets by the Cardinal, drawing the Cougars within two. He had only four points before that.
The Cardinal extended their lead to seven points again before the Cougars drew within three on four foul shots by Weaver. That's when Stanford took command.
Stanford led 34-30 at halftime, and the Cougars were that close because they shot 6-for-8 from 3-point range while going 4-of-16 from inside the arc. The Cardinal shot 13-for-29 including 2-for-5 on 3-pointers, and outrebounded WSU 20-12.
UCLA swept Stanford during the regular season, but trailed nearly all the way before winning a 77-67 overtime decision March 7 at Pauley Pavilion. The Bruins needed two free throws by Darren Collison with 2 1/2 seconds left in regulation to force the extra period.