By Rick Eymer
Palo Alto Online Sports
This time the Stanford men's basketball team won a close game. It came at a good time too as the Cardinal edged visiting Stephen F. Austin, 58-57, Tuesday in the first round of the National Invitation Tournament.
Stanford (19-14) travels to meet Alabama on Saturday at 9 a.m. (PT). The No. 1-seeded Tide topped Northeastern on Tuesday.
Senior Gabe Harris sank one of two free throws to put Stanford ahead, 58-52, with 3:56 remaining to play. The Cardinal needed to make two critical stops to hang on at the end after missing its final six shots.
The Lumberjacks (27-5) drew within 58-57 with 2:18 left. Dwight Powell, who scored 12 points and grabbed 15 rebounds, blocked a shot with 41 seconds remaining. Josh Huestis contested the final shot with a second remaining.
"Bottom line that's a game we lost earlier in the season," Stanford coach Johnny Dawkins said. "We had the exact same situation in the USC game and we lost by a basket."
The Cardinal was knocked out of the Pac-12 Conference tournament by Arizona State, 89-88, in overtime and lost at home to Colorado, 65-63, three weeks ago. Stanford has lost three other games by three points or less this season -- likely the difference between playing in the NIT and not the NCAA tournament.
"We had to dig in and make a stop at the end," Dawkins said. "We hustled back on defense and forced a tough shot."
Stanford made just enough plays to edge the nation's top defensive team. The Lumberjacks had held their previous 64 opponents to an average of 51 per game.
Stanford improved to 4-1 against teams from the Southland Conference and have won three of its four overall.
Aaron Bright added 11 points for the Cardinal.