Stanford men roar into Pac-10 hoop finals

Cardinal will meet UCLA for a third time this season after toppling WSU, 75-68, in semifinals

Brook Lopez keeps raising the level of his game, and the Stanford men's basketball team keeps raising its level of expectation.

Getting a second chance to set things straight, the second-seeded Cardinal meets top-seeded UCLA with the automatic bid into the NCAA tournament on the line.

Lopez scored 30 points and grabbed 12 rebounds for his fourth consecutive double-double and Stanford held on to beat Washington State, 75-68, on Friday in the semifinals of the Pac-10 tournament at the Staples in Los Angeles.

Stanford (26-6) and the Bruins meet Saturday at 3:15 p.m.

"At the end of the day it's a championship," Stanford point guard Mitch Johnson said. "Any time you're playing for a championship on television, fatigue will not be a factor. We've both played the same amount of games and the same amount of minutes. It's one versus two and both teams are playing well. It should be a good game."

Johnson scored seven points and recorded eight assists against the Cougars, who Stanford swept on the season.

UCLA owns two wins over the Cardinal this year, although many of the Stanford players felt a victory was grabbed from underneath them.

"There were a lot of different emotions throughout the game," Brook Lopez said.

The three key numbers in the win over Washington State were 30, as in points in the paint; 20 as in points off turnovers; and 16 as in second chance points. Those numbers were more than enough to offset the Cougars' barrage of 3-pointers.

Taj Finger and Johnson each made a pair of free throws in the final 21 seconds to hold off Washington State's late rally.

Stanford held the lead for all but the first 7 1/2 minutes, but that lead was precarious at best.

Robin Lopez added nine points, eight rebounds and blocked three shots.

Stanford led by 13 points (67-54) with 3:35 left to play after Robin Lopez made two free throws. The Cougars battled back with a pair of three-pointers, their 11th and 12th of the game and got to within 71-68 with 24.3 seconds left.

Washington State, however, was forced to foul and Finger made a pair with 21.3 seconds left followed by two more from Johnson with 8.9 remaining to seal the victory.


Like this comment
Posted by Loopster
a resident of another community
on Mar 15, 2008 at 12:38 pm


Like this comment
Posted by Bill
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 15, 2008 at 3:06 pm

Stanford has a chance if UCLA fields only five players. Refs not allowed.

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