NCAA tournament hopes burn out in Cardinal loss to Utah


There were so many lost opportunities over the second half of the season that boxed the Stanford men's basketball team into a corner from which it could not escape.

The sixth-seeded Cardinal would have needed to do more than beat No. 3 seed Utah just to get itself back onto the NCAA bubble. The Utes erased all doubt with their 80-56 victory over Stanford in the quarterfinal of the Pac-12 Conference tournament in Las Vegas on Thursday night.

Stanford (19-13) won four of its last 12 games, a resume that does not inspire members of the NCAA selection committee, which puts a premium on a team's late-season performance. Of those eight losses, five were by six points or fewer.

There may yet be a postseason tournament for the Cardinal, though not qualifying for the NCAA tournament after such a successful run last year has to have a bitter taste.

Chasson Randle scored 22 points, Stephan Nastic had 11 before fouling out and Anthony Brown grabbed a team-high six rebounds for Stanford.

Brown was held to just 2 points today on 1 of 6 shooting. That's a season low, and only the fourth time all season he has scored in single digits.

The Cardinal shot 25 percent in the second half and managed just 17 points. Utah turned up the heat and dominated play over the final 20 minutes.

Utah needed the first five minutes of the second half with an 11-2 run to take a 45-41 lead. Stanford cooperated by missing four of its first five shots, part of a 1 for 8 stretch dating to the end of the first half.

"I'm extremely disappointed," Stanford coach Johnny Dawkins said. "I always think we have a chance to win. We have guys and our guys compete. I thought we ran into a team that had a very, very hot second half and it's hard to overcome that. I believe in our guys and I thought we had a chance and I thought in the first half we exhibited that."

Randle hit a 3-pointer with 14:58 remaining to play in the contest to help Stanford close to within 45-44 but that seemed the extent of the Cardinal's fight as the Utes simply took over the game afterward, leading by as many as 18 with under eight minutes to play.

It never got any better.

"I don't want to give up on this season in any manner but we have a lot to look forward to this summer to do what we need to do so we are ready for next season," Stanford's Rosco Allen said.

Stanford scored nine straight points to take an early 13-6 lead with 13:31 to play in the first half.

Utah countered with a 14-2 over the next three minutes to pull ahead 20-15. During that stretch, the Cardinal made the only shot it attempted. Four turnovers led to zero Stanford scoring opportunities and several scoring chances for the Utes.

Stanford hung around though. Utah was still ahead by five with eight minutes to go in the half. Nastic hit a layup to spark a 10-0 Cardinal run and Stanford eventually opened an eight-point edge following a pair of Dorian Pickens free throws.

The Cardinal missed a couple of chances in the final seconds and went into intermission with a 39-34 advantage.

— Palo Alto Online Sports

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5 people like this
Posted by Readyforchange
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Mar 13, 2015 at 11:55 am

It's time for a change. Dawkins had plenty of talent on this roster and mismanaged the team all the way into the NIT. If it were not for a lucky 2 game win streak last year which put them in the Sweet Sixteen, he woulda been gone. It's time to put someone else at the helm that can lead this team back to Pac12 dominance.

2 people like this
Posted by Stanford Fan
a resident of Gunn High School
on Mar 13, 2015 at 3:52 pm

This was a tough season - injuries played a big role throughout. I think Coach Dawkins and staff deserve to stay. Will be a strong team next season with healthy squad. Can't wait to see the Allen twins both on the court with Rosco Allen, Reid Travis and Michael Humphrey at 100% strength.

Like this comment
Posted by Readyforchange
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Mar 13, 2015 at 5:17 pm

Stanford Fan,
Thanks for looking on the bright side, but on what grounds do you feel Dawkins and his staff deserve to stay? In his 7th season with Stanford, they have only made the NCAA tourney ONE TIME. In 7 seasons, he's only been able to get a max of 10 conference wins in a season. He's recruited well but then for some reason the talent doesn't yield a great team. To me, that's a deficiency in coaching, and not on caliber with the rest of Stanford Athletics. He seems like a nice guy, he seems like he cares about the players - great. But results have been medium at best. Again, it's time to move on. How much longer can Muir accept NIT invites instead of going for a National championship?

2 people like this
Posted by Jim
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 13, 2015 at 7:28 pm

Stanford men's basketball playing for a national championship? Probably will never happen in our lifetime. Getting to the Sweet 16 was a big deal. We forget what kind of talent Mike Montgomery had and he got the Final Four, what? once? Stanford had the tallest team in America at one time, sent players to the NBA …. early……. and yet just getting to the Final Four is SO difficult. There was a time when the men's team played in the shadow of the women's. I think expectations get out of hand some times. Arizona and Utah are pretty good. Coaching can get you only so far. It's really up to the players. Stanford has had some great talent, but……the Cardinal will never be a Kentucky….which may be a good thing. The turnover at Kentucky is a joke. Dawkins is a decent coach. Stanford doesn't need to be like Major League Baseball… doesn't win, fire the coach. And then hire a coach who just got fired from another team. Let's not play that game.

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