March 4, 2004
PULLMAN, Wash. (AP) -- Matt Lottich knew he was out of time, so he simply came up shooting.
Following a scramble for a loose ball, Lottich's desperation 3-pointer gave top-ranked and undefeated Stanford another buzzer-beating victory, 63-61 over tenacious Washington State on Thursday night.
"I dove in for it. I knew time was low," the low-key Lottich said. "I've done it before."
But rarely with so much on the line.
Stanford (26-0, 17-0 Pac-10) barely escaped losing to the eighth-place team in the league, and kept alive its hopes of an undefeated season.
"We obviously were very lucky at the end," coach Mike Montgomery said. "I don't know how many times Matt Lottich has made those."
Montgomery said he felt badly for Washington State (12-15, 6-11), which was looking for its first win in 24 tries against a No. 1 team. He also said his team should not feel too good about the win.
"We need to treat this like a loss a little bit," Montgomery said. "We should not walk away feeling like a million bucks.
"We probably didn't play up to the level you need to win on the road in this league," he said.
The Cardinal shot 46 percent from the floor and finished 12 points below their season average due to Washington State's aggressive defense.
Washington State coach Dick Bennett was proud of his team.
"It's obvious they have something special going for them," Bennett said of Stanford. "We executed about as well as we could on both ends."
But Bennett felt the referees failed to see Marcus Moore calling a timeout when he couldn't inbound the ball in the closing seconds, resulting in a turnover that set the stage for Lottich.
"They blew it," Bennett said of the officials.
Washington State led 61-56 with 25 seconds left before Dan Grunfeld cut it to one with a rare four-point play, hitting a long 3-pointer from the corner and making a free throw, his only points of the game.
With 17.2 seconds left, Washington State could not inbound the ball against Stanford's defense and turned it over on a five-second violation.
Stanford tried to hold the ball for the last shot, but it was knocked away from Chris Hernandez, and the wild scramble followed.
Nick Robinson, who hit the last-second shot that lifted the Cardinal past Arizona last month, finally gained control and flipped the ball back to Lottich for the game-winner. The long shot sent the Stanford players leaping for joy and prompted Washington State's fans to throw items on the floor in disgust.
"I grabbed someone and gave them a hug and said, `We did it again!"' Grunfeld said.
Lottich led Stanford with 15 points, Rob Little added 14, and Josh Childress had 12 points and 10 rebounds before fouling out. Jeff Varem and Moore led the Cougars with 14 points apiece.
Stanford, which needs to beat Washington on Saturday to complete the first 18-0 season in conference history, has won 16 straight over Washington State. The Cougars have lost 44 games in a row to ranked teams.
Washington State must beat California on Saturday to have a chance to qualify for its first Pac-10 tournament.
Washington State stayed close throughout a first-half defensive battle, and Moore's free throw tied it at 31 with 17:10 left in the second. Varem's dunk and consecutive 3-pointers by Chris Schlatter lifted Washington State to a 39-33 lead with 14:18 left.
Little scored four of Stanford's first five baskets of the half to keep the Cardinal close, and consecutive baskets by Matt Haryasz gave Stanford a 43-41 lead with 10:37 left.
Moore's 3-pointer lifted Washington State to a 54-50 lead, and Varem's two free throws made it 56-50 with 1:23 left. Childress fouled out a few seconds later.
Hernandez made two free throws to make it 56-52 with 1:08 left.
Moore countered with two free throws for the Cougars, then Haryasz hit a basket for Stanford.
Robinson scored on a goaltending call to cut Washington State's lead to two at 58-56 with 40 seconds left. Shami Gill made one free throw for Washington State, and Varem added two more to give the Cougars a 61-56 lead.
No. 2 Saint Joseph's (26-0) is the only other undefeated team in the country.
No team has gone through the Pac-10 undefeated since the conference went to an 18-game schedule in 1979. Oregon State and Arizona have posted 17-1 records.
Stanford's 26-game winning streak is the longest in the Pac-10 since Oregon State won 26 in a row in 1980-81.
No team has entered the NCAA tournament without a loss since UNLV in 1991. The last team to complete an undefeated season was Indiana in 1976.