Dwight Powell made one of two free throws with 36 seconds remaining to play to give the Stanford men's basketball team a 61-60 victory over visiting Utah in the Pac-12 Conference regular-season finale Saturday.
Chasson Randle scored 22 points to lead the Cardinal (10-8 Pac-12, 19-11 overall), which heads into the conference tournament next week in Las Vegas as the sixth seed and will play No. 11 Washington State late Wednesday night.
"I just knew there was one game left in the season," Randle said. "It was senior night and I wanted to help this team win."
The game played out as a microcosm of Stanford's season: looking good at one point, looking bad the next and just holding on despite itself at other times.
Most observers feel the Cardinal nailed down a spot in the NCAA tournament, which would be the first time under Johnny Dawkins, but after needing a late turnover from then Utes to close out its win, Stanford may need a win in the conference tournament.
"Chasson has been terrific. He's played great for us and doing everything: scoring, making guys better by how he goes out there and approaches it," Dawkins said. "I'm really proud of him because of the bounce back that he's had from last year. Chasson is playing at a first-team All-Pac-12 level."
The Cardinal has played on the brink of disaster all year, yet somehow finds a way to play itself back into contention. It happened again against Utah.
The last 7:50 of the contest, save Powell's free throw, provided yet another example of how Stanford flirts with despair: NCAA style.
Stefan Nastic, who made all six of his field goal attempts and finished with 14 points, gave Stanford a 54-43 lead with 7:51 left in the game.
"It was a great win, a really big win, coming off three straight losses," Nastic said. "It was as big of a game as I've ever played in, just the emotions going through for the seniors and the guys that I love, so it was a good win."
Utah responded with consecutive 3-pointers and a layup to close within 54-51 with 5:40 left. Stanford, meanwhile, forgot how to shoot.
The Utes eventually took a 58-57 edge before Josh Huestis hit a 3-pointer with 2:19 left to put Stanford ahead to stay, just barely.
The Cardinal was 1 of 4 from the field, 4 of 11 from the foul line and turned the ball over twice in the final 6:54.
Utah had the ball and a chance to win in the final moments, but was called for traveling and the Cardinal escaped with a key victory.
"We knew we had to lock in defensively," Randle said. "We were ready to get after it."
Nine of the 12 seeds were determined on a frenetic final day of the Pac-12 regular season.
U.S. setter Kawika Shoji is playing his third season in Berlin this winter. We asked him to tell a little about his experience there:
Also included is an update on Stanford grad Matt Fuerbringer, the U.S. national team assistant coach.