STANFORD, Calif.- Chasson Randle scored a game-high 22 points, leading Stanford past Utah 61-60 on Saturday afternoon to close out the regular season for both teams.
With the result, Stanford has been tabbed the No. 6 seed in the Pac-12 Tournament and will square off against No. 11 seed Washington State (10-20, 3-15 Pac-12) on Wednesday, March 12, at 8:30 p.m. The winner will play No. 3 seed Arizona State (21-10, 10-8 Pac-12) on Thursday, March 13, at 8:30 p.m.
Despite missing seven consecutive free throws down the stretch, Stanford locked in defensively and prevented Utah from getting a clean look at the basket when it counted.
Stefan Nastic added 14 points in his first game of the year off the bench, as head coach Johnny Dawkins elected to start John Gage and Robbie Lemons on Senior Day. Josh Huestis pitched in with 11 points and was two rebounds shy of his eighth double-double.
Stanford (19-11, 10-8 Pac-12) led 33-25 at halftime and extended its advantage to 54-43 with 7:51 remaining before Utah gabbed its first lead of the game at 58-57 with 2:40 on the clock.
But the Cardinal scored four of the game’s final six points, with Dwight Powell knocking down the second of two free throws for a 61-60 lead.
Utah (20-10, 9-9 Pac-12) placed four players in double figures, led by Brandon Taylor’s 14 points.
Stanford shot 48.0 percent overall but only 4-13 from three-point territory and 9-18 from the foul line. The Cardinal held a 28-23 rebounding advantage and used eight steals to force 17 turnovers.
The Cardinal raced out to a 16-4 lead in the first half, thank to points off turnovers and second-chance rebounds. The Runnin’ Utes whittled the deficit to five before a jumper from Anthony Brown and a free throw from Randle closed out the half.
Trailing 54-43, Utah embarked on a 14-4 scoring run to take the lead for the first time before Stanford secure the game.
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NOTES: Stanford has won three in a row overall against Utah … The Cardinal finished with a winning conference record for the first time since a 10-8 finish two years ago … Stanford honored Aaron Bright, Andy Brown, John Gage, Josh Huestis, Robbie Lemons and Dwight Powell in a Senior Day ceremony prior to the game. The group has led Stanford to 79 victories and a school-record 17 home wins on the way to capturing the 2012 Postseason NIT championship … Stefan Nastic entered the game shooting 3-12 over the last three games but was 6-6 from the field and 2-3 from the foul line in 20 minutes … Prior to today, Stanford joined Cincinnati, Massachusetts, Missouri, Oklahoma, Providence, Sam Houston State, Stephen F. Austin, Utah Valley and Wisconsin as the only Division I programs to use the same starting lineup all year … Stanford’s 28 rebounds matched a season-low total … Chasson Randle finished 3-5 from beyond the arc, increasing his career total to 203 triples and moving into fifth place in school history.
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Stanford Head Coach Johnny Dawkins
“Utah is a very good basketball team. I think they won six out of their last eight games, and we knew it was going to be a tough game. We knew that it was going to come down to the wire and I thought what prevailed for us, was that defensively we got the stops that we needed, which offset some of the free throws we missed. Our guys didn’t hang their heads, they hung their hats on guarding, and I think we got the win because of that.”
“Chasson has been terrific. He’s played great for us and doing everything: scoring, making guys better by how he goes out there and approaches it and I love coaching him. I’m really proud of him because of the bounce back that he’s had from last year. It says a lot about who he is and what his character is, the fact that he could respond the way he has this season. Chasson is playing at a first-team All-Pac-12 level.”
“I think it’s important, the way we won. You go into the tournament, you can’t say you’re always going to shoot a great percentage. You have to win defensively, and then when you shoot, it just becomes a bonus. The teams that have been the most successful, and I think you watch Arizona right now, they’re a great defensive team. And so you can overcome some of your struggles. We were able to do that tonight. We couldn’t do it versus Colorado, but fortunately tonight we were able to do it.”
“Robbie has been great. I think he is kind of an unsung hero for us because of his effort and energy. He brings that every night. And if you play consistently hard, you’re going to make plays, and he’s done that for us. Robbie is a terrific shooter but he hasn’t had a great year shooting the basketball from the field. But he’s done so many other things to help our team that it’s hard not to put him in the game. He always gets us something.”
“They called timeout, typically we’re going to go down in man. So we said, ‘You know what, whatever happens, we’re going to play man.’ We’re, of course, a multi-defensive team, but we’re going to play our defense that we’re meant to play. So we go in and lock in on our man. We wanted to make sure — we knew with 21 seconds left they were going to try to score — we just wanted to make sure that we didn’t give them a clean look. Stay between them and the basket, make them have to score over the top of you. I thought all of our guys were engaged and energized defensively on that possession, culminating with Chasson on the sideline with Taylor, and makes a great play.”
“I try to talk to our guys about the fact that sometimes, when you’re seniors, Senior Day is always interesting because of all the emotion and adrenaline flowing. There’s too much going on at times for them. I thought our guys remained focused and gave us what they had. I’ve been in that position as a senior before where you just don’t know and I thought our guys handled it as best as they could. And you know what, they’ll always remember this win.”
“I thought our team showed a lot of character tonight. Things got tough and it was an up-and-down game, but we pulled it out and I’m just happy we got the win for our seniors tonight. We still have business to take care of in the Pac-12 Tournament next week, so we’re looking forward to that.”
“I’m really not sure about the free throws. We probably weren’t focusing, but that’s something we have to work on in the upcoming days leading up to the Pac-12 Tournament. But we did defend tonight and that’s what won the game for us.”
“I knew that Taylor wanted the ball back, so I just wanted to deny him the ball, and then they brought a little cluster over there into the corner. I just tried to get a hand on the ball and got lucky on defense.”
“It was a great win, a really big win, coming off three straight losses. We really needed it and owed it to ourselves to take this one. It was as big of a game as I’ve ever played in, just the emotions going through for the seniors and the guys that I love, so it was a good win.”
“Just many factors, the fact that it’s the last time on the court with these guys at Maples, and every game is my biggest game, so that’s how I look at it as well.”
“I just saw the regular opportunities that are usually there, and I was glad that I was able to capitalize on it just by playing my game.”
“Wednesday was definitely frustrating, because we knew that we had to come out with a higher energy level. For whatever reason, some plays we weren’t making and the other team was making plays. And it was very frustrating, but we’ve been through lot this season, and just sticking together and trying to seize the opportunity at hand, really fighting through it, whoever came into the game was just trying to add something. And it ended up in a win.”
Utah Head Coach Larry Krystkowiak
“Obviously, this one came down to the wire, they happened to make the play, but I thought the first half was brutal. We got pounded on the glass on every level: physically, number of offensive rebounds. We had 13 turnovers in the first half. We weren't very strong with the ball, and we got a team that was playing really, really hard. It took us a while before we could match that. We can talk about the last minute, but there were plenty of mistakes along the way.”
“They punched us in the gut off the top. Their first 20 points were off of us, 13 of them were from turnovers and seven were off the offensive glass in the form of second-chance points. They never made a basket unless we turned it over or didn't get the defensive rebounds. We got pounded and a lot of credit needs to go to Stanford. They were aggressive in the pick and roll coverage, they beat us to the punch in a lot of 50-50 balls. That's this time of year.”
“This loss really smarts, but I think everyone in that locker room knows the second half was really good. We've got the concept of playing hard. Guts will take you so far and keep you in some games, but I think it's really important that we have some guts on offense. When we get down to Vegas there will be pressure. I don't know that we've seen pressure like that this year.”
“We're a 9-9 team. I don't like the proverbial "you're better than your record," because I think you are what you are. I'm confident that we're ready for the next chapter going into Vegas, and we'll be prepared.”
“We tried to execute a play and they put a lot of heat on Delon (Wright). I would have liked to have seen him turn the corner to the open side, and he went into some traffic. It's a play we've run a bunch, like a lot of the plays through the course of the game.”
“As far as their missed free throws, I don’t consider them really giving us an opportunity. From our perspective, it was a really gutsy performance by Stanford. They scratch and claw to stay in it, and there's no shortage on our team in terms of the guts. Now we've got to start getting more physical and execute when it comes down the stretch like that.”
“This one does sting a lot. It was just a good game that got away from us. It came down to the wire. They made the defensive play when they had to, and that was the game. Give them the credit. We're looking at the Pac-12 Tournament as a new chapter.”
“It's just frustrating. We had an opportunity but we weren't able to execute. The play broke down. For as bad as we played, we still had the opportunity to come out on top. There are no moral victories in this loss. We've got to move on.”