By Rick Eymer
Palo Alto Online Sports
Senior Josh Owens has to be feeling pretty good these days. He's suffered through two of the most disappointing years a competitive basketball player could imagine and now he's on top of the world.
Owens and freshman Chasson Randle each scored 15 points as Stanford beat visiting Nevada, 84-56, in the quarterfinals of the National Invitation Tournament Wednesday night in Maples Pavilion.
The next stop for the Cardinal (24-11) is Madison Square Garden in New York City, where it will play in the national semifinals against Massachusetts next Tuesday. Washington and Minnesota meet in the other semifinal, with the winners playing for the title on Thursday.
"It's special to still be playing basketball right now," Owens said. "There are a lot of teams who'd like to be playing right now."
Josh Huestis added 12 points for Stanford, which played in the preseason NIT this season and becomes the fourth team to make two appearances at the Garden in the same season and the first since Ohio State in 2008.
"The most important thing is to have a successful run," Stanford coach Johnny Dawkins said. "We want to be champions and we still have that chance. We want to put up a banner in Maples Pavilion."
Owens, a freshman on the 2008 Sweet 16 team that included three future NBA players, is the final link to the Cardinal's last appearance in the NCAA.
"It's been an amazing five years, the last four under coach Dawkins," Owens said. "He's a teacher of the game who has seen it at every level."
Malik Story scored 14 points to lead the Wolf Pack (28-7), who had won six of their previous seven games. Deonte Burton added 13 points and Olek Czyz had 11.
"They came out and established tempo and we didn't respond very well," Nevada coach David Carter said. "We seemed to be a step behind them the whole time. This is still a young team and it was the first time we had a chance to play on a big stage."
The Cardinal, which was ahead 42-27 at the break and led by as many as 32, set a school record with its 17th win at home.
Dario Hunt, Nevada's leading rebounder, was called for a pair of fouls in the first eight minutes and was 0-of-3 from the floor as the Wolf Pack shot 36 percent in the first half and trailed by as many as 18 points. He finished with two points and four rebounds.
Stanford shot over 53 percent for the game, including 57 percent from long range, and outscored the Wolf Pack 21-5 in points off turnovers.
"This was our best game of the season on both ends of the court," Dawkins said. "The seniors were able to celebrate a win in their last game here."
The Cardinal opened the second half with consecutive slams and eventually took a 56-34 edge with 14:12 remaining to play.
Nevada scored the next nine points before another Aaron Bright 3-pointer stopped the Wolf Pack's only rally.