Dec. 21, 2012
EVANSTON, Ill. (AP) - Aaron Bright knew what he had to do as soon as he saw the tying 3-pointer fall through the net.
He answered with one of his own and Stanford hung on from there, squeezing out a wild 70-68 victory over Northwestern on Friday.
Josh Huestis tied a career-high with 18 points and also grabbed 12 rebounds, but the biggest shot came from a guard who seems to be finding his touch after struggling for much of this season.
Bright was just 7-28 on 3-pointers coming in but hit four in the previous game. Then, he buried the big one against Northwestern.
"That's what you practice on as a little kid," he said. "You visualize you're in the other team's arena and you make the last shot."
The Cardinal (8-4) built an 18-point lead in the first half and took a four-point advantage to the locker room after Northwestern (8-4) pulled within one. But they prevailed down the stretch, ending a rough week on a winning note.
It included a loss at No. 25/- NC State and the news that prized prospect Jabari Parker of Chicago was headed to Duke, after tabbing Stanford as one of his five finalists.
Northwestern's Tre Demps nailed a 3-pointer and scored in the lane to tie it at 61 with 6:34 remaining. He hit another 3 with 1:50 left to tie it at 67, but Bright immediately answered with one of his own to make it 70-67.
"He (Demps) hit the shot and I was thinking about mine, I'm going to try and match it if I get open," Bright said. "I got open and Rosco (Allen) gave me the pass. I kind of visualized the shot in my head before I got open. It felt good."
The Wildcats' Jared Swopshire hit the second of two free throws to make it a two-point game with 44 seconds left. Northwestern caught a break when the Cardinal's Dwight Powell threw the ball away trying to hit Huestis inside, but Demps missed on a drive.
The Wildcats' Dave Sobolewski knocked the ball out of bounds with 2.8 seconds left. Powell then caught a long inbounds pass from Andy Brown and ran out the clock, preserving the win for Stanford.
"We've been involved in games like that, where teams have kept us on the ropes, have stormed back and we folded," Huestis said. "This game was different. We didn't panic. We kept our poise. They'd go on runs, but they never got the lead. You can attribute that to our maturity."
Reggie Hearn led Northwestern with 18 points but left the game early in the second half. He appeared to be favoring his right leg or hip after he got knocked to the floor attempting a layup, but was seen after the game with a walking boot on his left leg. He hit both free throws and scored on a put-back about a minute-and-a-half later, before heading to the sideline.
Northwestern head coach Bill Carmody wasn't sure if he'll be available Sunday against Brown.
Considering they were already missing one of their best players in Drew Crawford, the Wildcats really didn't need that. Crawford has a torn labrum in his right shoulder and will miss the rest of the season, but Northwestern again got by in its second game without him, winning another tight one after squeezing by Texas State on Monday.
Alex Olah added 16 points for the Wildcats, and Demps scored 12.
"I just feel like the ball has decided to go in," said Demps, a redshirt freshman. "I felt confident coming in. That redshirt year really humbled me and helped me. I just want to do whatever I can to help this team win."
The way things were going early on, it looked like this would be an easy night for the Cardinal.
Robbie Lemons (12 points) nailed three 3-pointers and Huestis hit one, too, to help spark an 18-2 run in the first half that gave Stanford a 28-12 lead. But rather than wilt, Northwestern came roaring back.
The score was 32-14 with about seven minutes left, but the Wildcats reeled off 17 straight points while whipping their crowd into a frenzy. A switch to a 1-3-1 trap helped rattle the Cardinal, and when Reggie Hearn hit a layup with 1:32 remaining, Stanford's lead was down to just one.
John Gage (12 points) finally ended the drought for the Cardinal when he nailed a 3-pointer in the closing seconds to make it 35-31 after a turnover by Northwestern.
- by Andrew Seligman, Associated Press
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NOTES: Stanford will enter the Christmas break on a winning note for the first time since 2008, when the Cardinal earned a 77-69 road win at Santa Clara ... Stanford improved to 5-2 all-time against Northwestern and has won four of the last five games ... Josh Huestis notched his first double-double of the year and third of his career ... Dwight Powell contributed eight points, six boards and four blocks but also finished with four fouls ... Returning to his home state for the first time in nearly two years, Chasson Randle finished with six points (3-5 FG) but matched a career high with six assists. Playing in front of approximately 250 supporters from nearby Rock Island, Randle sacrificed scoring in order to get his teammates involved ... Stanford's 11 three-pointers were a season high ... The Cardinal dished out 18 assists, leading to 25 buckets ... Prior to this week's road trip, Stanford was averaging 25.3 free throw attempts. The Cardinal was just 9-14 tonight and 4-6 against NC State on Tuesday ... Stanford is now 50-16 against non-conference opponents under head coach Johnny Dawkins ... Stanford is 11-5 since the 2005-06 campaign when veteran play-by-play announcer John Platz flies solo on the broadcast. Analyst Drew Shiller was on assignment this week.