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Stanford Edges Stephen F. Austin, 58-57, In NIT Opener
Courtesy: Stanford Athletics  
Release: 03/19/2013

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STANFORD, Calif. (AP) - Dwight Powell struggled with his shooting all night. That was about the only thing he struggled with, however.

Powell had 12 points on 3-13 shooting, but also totaled 15 rebounds and four blocked shots to help Stanford beat Stephen F. Austin 58-57 on Tuesday night in the opening round of the Postseason NIT.

His final blocked shot came with 41 seconds remaining and the defending NIT champion Cardinal clinging to a 1-point edge.

"They're a great defensive team," Powell said. "I missed some easy shots but we were all focused for this game. We're in this tournament to win as many games as possible."

Aaron Bright added 11 points for the Cardinal (19-14), which won for the third time in four games and travels to Alabama for a second-round game on Saturday.

"We had to dig in and make a stop at the end," Stanford coach Johnny Dawkins said. "We forced a tough shot."

Taylor Smith, the Southland Conference Player of the Year, had 18 points to lead four Lumberjacks (27-5) in double figures.

Antonio Bostic, who left the game late with a shoulder injury, had 15 points. Hal Bateman added 12 points and 7 assists and Desmond Haymon had 10 points.

The Cardinal opened a seven-point lead midway through the second half and maintained a slight edge the rest of the way. Powell blocked Haymon's shot with 41 seconds remaining and Gabe Harris came up with the loose ball.

Haymon also missed a shot in the closing seconds.

"We beat a good team who had a great year," Dawkins said. "They are one of the best defensive teams in the nation and we knew it would be a grind it out game."

The Lumberjacks, who have held 64 consecutive opponents to fewer than 70 points, entered allowing 51 points a game while Stanford came in with a 71.4 scoring average.

"We just wanted to get the best shot that was available," Haymon said. "Unfortunately, the shot we took just didn't go down. It was a great look. We just completely lost at the end."

Stanford's Robbie Lemons, who hit a pair or 3-pointers, left the game with a cut above his left eye.

Bostic hit a 3-pointer in the final seven seconds of the opening half to give the Lumberjacks a 32-31 advantage into the intermission.

- by Rick Eymer, Associated Press

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NOTES: The last time Stanford won a game while scoring under 60 points was Feb. 12, 2012, when the Cardinal topped USC 59-47 ... Stanford improved to 16-9 in games played during the month of March under head coach Johnny Dawkins ... Dwight Powell registered his 10th double-double of the year, finishing with 12 points and 15 rebounds while matching a career high with four blocks. Despite a 3-13 mark from the field, Powell was 6-8 from the foul line ... Aaron Bright added 11 points while dishing out three assists. Meanwhile, Bright continues to protect the basketball, having committed only three turnovers in his last 156 minutes ... Stanford was 7-16 from three-point territory, with four different players knocking down at least one triple ... The Cardinal held an 18-2 advantage in bench points, receiving solid efforts from Gabriel Harris (nine points, three rebounds, 18 minutes) and Robbie Lemons (six points, three rebounds, 16 minutes) ... Stanford won for only the third time this year when trailing at halftime ... Stanford will next face Alabama on Saturday, March 23, at 9 a.m. PT in the second round.

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Stanford Head Coach Johnny Dawkins
"We beat a good team tonight. They came into the game 27-4, had a great year, were conference champions, and we already know they're the best defensive team in the nation. We knew it was going to be a grind-out game and our guys needed to be very mature, and our guys were that. I gave our bench a lot of credit in the postgame meeting. To me, they won it for us because they gave us life, then everyone else kind of picked it up. But I have to give our guys a lot of credit. It's finals week and our preparation was difficult, but our guys really focused in and got a good win tonight."

"During the season, we would have lost that game. Bottom line: we would have lost a game like that. To win that game today says a lot about our guys. They were able to overcome. We had to dig in to get the last stop, which is very important. In games this season, that's something that would have been more difficult for us to close. To close that game, I think, will do us some good."

"This year is the same. We want to win this thing. We're still playing. There are a lot of teams that aren't playing anymore. We are one of the teams that are still competing for a championship, and I'm excited about that. Our kids our excited about that. Are we disappointed we didn't make the field of 64? Absolutely. But that doesn't mean we can't have a terrific season."

"Stephen F. Austin does a great job. They're in a stance all the time, they're very aggressive on the basketball, and you have to be able to do that. They have the foot speed to put pressure on the ball but they have the foot speed to also be able to contest wings, which is difficult. Whenever a team is contesting your wins and putting tremendous pressure on the ball, it takes you out of your offense. Everything you came in planning to do becomes a lot more difficult."

"Inside, this young man Smith, he's a load. Not only is he a good defender, but he's a really good shot-blocker and rebounder. Anything around the basket, it's deceiving: you think you can get it off because he's 6'6", but his arms are so long and he's so athletic that he changes your shot and alters things around the paint."

Stanford Junior Dwight Powell
"First and foremost, that's a great team. They had only lost four games coming into this game, so they knew how to win. They're an extremely strong defensive team, so we knew it was going be a grind the whole time. It was going to come down to who stopped who."

"I just didn't come with the appropriate focus tonight - missed some easy shots, missed the tough shots. Just wasn't in that big of an offensive groove, partially because of my own fault and partially because they're a great defensive team."

"I think our team was definitely focused tonight. We prepared hard, we studied this team - every player individually and games that they'd played. What I meant was me, personally, when my hand was above my head trying to finish, I just didn't finish all the way. That last bit of focus."

"As far as looking forward to Alabama, once again they're a good team. We haven't started scouting yet, so we'll start that tonight or tomorrow. But every year is a different year. We're in this tournament and we're going to try to win it."

"(Taylor Smith) got going in the first half. He's a very good player - the Player of the Year in his conference, I believe. He's a strong guy, knows how to use his body to get high percentage shots. So we just tried to get the ball out of his hands in the second half."

Stephen F. Austin Head Coach Danny Kaspar
"We told our point guard or the kid who shot the ball to get it in their hands and go make a play, because there's not going to be much time left. I told them that we won't have a play to run, so go make a play, try to take it to the bucket and get fouled. We wound up with a good shot, a 12-foot shot, but it just didn't fall."

"We ran into some fatigue. We substituted a little bit and we had a big drop-off. Our bench did not come through for us tonight. And really, that's the ballgame. Our top six players had to play the majority of the minutes because of that. It was a gallant effort, a very gutsy effort, on their parts."

"We're not very deep as a bench. That's one of our problems. We had some tired young men. We played a very grueling game on Saturday night. We didn't get back home until 2:30 or 3 a.m. Then we took all day yesterday traveling. Even with a shorter practice today, the jet lag and everything hurt us."

"We knew they were a good three-point shooting team, and Powell is a good player. Plus, they are well-coached. We held them to 40 percent shooting. The only thing we did tonight that we don't normally do is we let them outrebound us (33-29)."

"I'm very proud of these guys. They gave me one heck of a ride. It's a very high-character, hard-working group. They're very coachable. I haven't had a team with so many quality young men on it. There are no bad apples in this group."

Stephen F. Austin Senior Desmond Haymon
"We just wanted to get the best shot that was available. Unfortunately, the shot we took just didn't go down. It was a great look. We just completely lost at the end."

"We started off good. This game is about runs, we knew it was going to be back and forth, blow to blow, for both teams. We knew we just couldn't relax. This team played strong and we went out with a bang."

"We knew Stanford was a good three-point shooting team. We had them scouted well. We knew we just had to go out and defend and play our normal defense and we'd be in the game. That's exactly what happened."



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