A bad start, at the beginning of each half, was too much for the Stanford men's basketball team to overcome, though the Cardinal did its best to do just that.
UCLA held off a surprisingly strong comeback by Stanford to earn a 69-67 victory Thursday in a Pac-12 contest that put the Cardinal in a perilous postseason predicament.
Anthony Brown scored 19 points, adding nine rebounds and a team-high three assists, to lead Stanford. He scored seven points, had four rebounds and recorded two assists in the final seven minutes, when the Cardinal was desperately trying to mount a rally.
"It's not the first time or first season that we have lost two or three in a row," Brown said. "We started last year losing two in a row so you just have to take it day-by-day. Just as fast as you can lose two you can win three or four."
Stanford (6-4 in the Pac-12, 15-7) was enjoying it stay in third place, a game behind the conference leaders a week ago. Two straight losses find the Cardinal cramped alongside the Bruins, Oregon and Oregon State in third.
UCLA, by a combined total of seven points and 10 extra minutes, swept the season series from Stanford and will file away the tie-breaker advantage for possible future use.
"I gave our kids a lot of credit in the second half for the effort and energy to get us back in the game with a chance to win at the end," Stanford coach Johnny Dawkins said. "You can't get behind by that many points against a good team. We dug ourselves a hole and we couldn't quite climb out of it."
The Cardinal, which lost at Washington State last week by one point, has frittered chances to put some distance between itself and the rest of the pack. Instead, Stanford is on the fringe of falling into the lower half of the conference.
Stanford, losers in three of its last five games, hosts USC at 5:30 p.m. on Sunday in a conference game with much at stake. A Cardinal victory helps settle things and makes the trip to Utah and Colorado even more meaningful.
For a total of 13 minutes, 47 seconds on Thursday night, Stanford played like one of the top teams in the country. Put the final 3:29 of the first half and the final 10:18 of the game together and the Cardinal rolls over UCLA with a 41-11 advantage.
It was those other, pesky, 16 minutes, 13 seconds that put the Bruins over the top.
"I think we had too many lapses defensively that allowed them to get on some good runs and build a lead," Dawkins said. "They were playing in a comfort zone and you can't let teams play comfortable. We let them play comfortable for large portions of the night."
UCLA went ahead, 31-15, with 3:29 remaining in the first half. Stanford scored the last 10 points to draw within 31-25 at halftime.
The Bruins built a 58-36 advantage with 10:18 remaining to play before Stanford went back to work, carving out a 31-10 run to draw within 68-67 on a Rosco Allen 3-pointer with five seconds left.
With a chance to win in the final moments, senior guard Chasson Randle took a few steps past midcourt and tried a 3-point attempt that bounced off the backboard and then hit off the front rim.
Randle and Allen each scored 13 points for the Cardinal, while Stefan Nastic had 10 points and 11 rebounds.