Dec. 4, 2011
STANFORD, Calif. (AP) - The season is barely a month old and Stanford already is showing it could be one of the surprises in the expanded Pac-12 Conference.
Josh Owens scored 19 points and Chasson Randle added 16 points to rally Stanford from a 12-point deficit in the second half for a 76-72 victory over NC State on Sunday. After a win over Oklahoma State and a strong performance in a loss against No. 5/5 Syracuse at Madison Square Garden, the Cardinal could even find themselves in the rankings again soon.
"For what we want to do looking at long-term goals toward the end of the season, this was one of those games where you need to punch your ticket," said Owens, who also grabbed seven rebounds. "This was an opportunity for us to get a win that we needed for the end of the season."
Stanford's duo made it count.
The pair led a 16-1 run in the final six minutes that pushed the Cardinal (8-1) ahead for the first and only time. Owens had 10 points during the critical stretch and Randle made four free throws to keep Stanford perfect at home this season.
Stanford head coach Johnny Dawkins called the win one of the best in nonconference play at Maples Pavilion in his tenure for the heart and hustle his players showed late.
"It says a lot about this group, how they responded. I thought they had the will to win and they made the plays necessary," Dawkins said. "You never know until you're in that kind of situation how your guys would respond being down by double digits. Being down by double digits in the second half and seeing the kids respond that way, it makes you feel proud."
Not so much for the visitors.
C.J. Williams had 18 points and C.J. Leslie scored 14 to help the Wolfpack (5-3) build leads of 11 and 12 in each half only to see both disappear. Leslie was limited by a leg cramp in the second half, and his team struggled in his absence.
"This was absolutely a missed opportunity," Wolfpack coach Mark Gottfried said. "This team has to learn how to finish, and we have to get tougher. It's real simple."
NC State's only other appearances away from Reynolds Coliseum this season came at a neutral site in the Legends Classic in East Rutherford, N.J., against Vanderbilt and Texas. The Wolfpack split those games.
Traveling to the West Coast, they looked right at home to start each half.
And completely out of place at the end.
During one stretch after the break, Williams blocked a shot by Anthony Brown and pushed the ball up court. Scott Wood received the ball and hit a 3-pointer to highlight a 12-4 run to start the second half, giving the Wolfpack a 47-35 lead.
Everything from there for NC State just evaporated.
Stanford closed the gap late just as it did in the opening half, getting a 3-pointer and two-handed dunk by Brown. Owens followed with four free throws between a NC State basket to put the Cardinal ahead 65-64 with 3:08 left - Stanford's first lead of the game.
He made two more free throws until Randle followed with four more to extend the Cardinal's cushion to 71-67. After going ahead by six points in the final seconds, Stanford sweated out a late push by the Wolfpack, winning a late jump ball on a possession arrow.
Brown hit a final free throw with 5.6 seconds left to seal the final score, finishing with 12 points. Aaron Bright added 15 points for Stanford, which finished 29 for 34 from the line.
"If you want to win, you've to make your free throws," Randle said.
The first half followed a similar pattern.
Leslie converted a three-point play over Owens and had another dunk to highlight a 16-6 start for NC State. The Cardinal took time to adjust to the fast pace and energized a Maples Pavilion crowd, at times, with some big-play bursts.
Randle's 3-pointer capped a 14-4 stretch by Stanford that evened the score at 20-all in the first half. The teams traded baskets again and Stanford's Josh Huestis evened the game at 30 with a three-point play over Leslie in the final minutes.
The Wolfpack closed strong on defense to force the Cardinal into several mistakes, getting baskets from Williams and Leslie to take a 35-31 halftime lead before another fast start in the second half.
NC State's last road win over a Pac-12 team came at Oregon State on Dec. 22, 1993. The last victory overall against a Pac-12 team came against Arizona State on Jan. 29, 2000.
"We got caught up in the moments too much," said Wolfpack forward Lorenzo Brown, who had 12 points and six rebounds. "I guess some of the calls started to get to some of the players and we started pouting a little. You can't do that when you're out on the road. It's going to hurt us every game. We just lost our heads toward the end."
by Antonio Gonzalez, Associated Press.
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NOTES: Stanford enters its 13-day finals break at 8-1 overall, with the lone defeat coming against No. 5/5 Syracuse (69-63) in the championship game of the Dick's Sporting Goods NIT Season Tip-Off New York. The Cardinal is back in action on Dec. 17 against San Diego ... Stanford is 35-11 against non-conference opponents under head coach Johnny Dawkins ... Ten different Stanford players have already notched double-digit scoring performances, matching last year's total ... Stanford held a 40-30 edge on the boards, led by Josh Huestis (9), Josh Owens (7) and Chasson Randle (6) ... The Cardinal's 45 second-half points represented a season-best total ... Chasson Randle has made 15 consecutive free throws dating back to the second half of Stanford's game against Oklahoma State on Nov. 23.
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Stanford head coach Johnny Dawkins
"Just to start with, I thought it was a hard-fought game, I thought both teams played hard tonight. Give NC State a lot of credit, they came in here, flew 3,000 miles and gave a terrific effort. For our guys, in both halves we got knocked back, and it says a lot about this group, how they responded. They had a lot of will to win at the end, they made the plays when necessary and I was very proud of that. You never know until you're in that situation how your guys are going to respond, and seeing them down double-digits and then respond makes you proud."
On defending NC State down the stretch...
"They're very efficient; we've watched them on tape. We wanted to try to mix it up a little in the second half. I thought that did help us. We got some consecutive stops in the zone, went back to man and at that time, I thought our kids were really able to dig in and lock it down."
On coming back from a 12-point second-half deficit...
"What we try to tell our guys when we're down by those margins is that we've got a lot of game to play. But more importantly, one place that doesn't get as much credit would be our fans. I thought our fans were terrific, I thought the place was electric, I thought the energy in our student section was amazing. I don't think we win that game if they hadn't given us the energy to do the things we did in both halves, to come back in the first half and then again, come back and take the lead in the second half. It's about as loud as I've seen this building, and I was just really proud and happy that they came out and gave that kind of effort for us."
NC State head coach Mark Gottfried
On losing back-to-back games with late second-half leads (NC State lost to Indiana 86-75 on Nov. 25)...
"This was absolutely a missed opportunity. This team has to learn how to finish, and we have to get tougher. It's real simple. We did a lot of things well, we executed our offense at times extremely well. We defended at times extremely well. But at the same time, not having Calvin (Leslie) down the stretch and not having Scott Wood certainly puts you at a disadvantage. Both those two guys were playing well."
"But there are no excuses. Whoever you have on the floor, you have to be better. You have to defend a little better and run the offense a little better and get the better shots. It's frustrating because I think this team is close. But until we learn that, we'll be sitting here doing the same thing every game."
On the officiating...
"I don't think the officiating had anything to do with the game today. What we have to do is each player look in the mirror and say, 'What do we have to do to get over the hump?' There's a lot to be encouraged by, but at the end of the day, we've got to get over the hump."
On Josh Owens and Aaron Bright coming alive for Stanford in the second half...
"I thought Calvin did a good job on Owens early. You take that athleticism out of there and it's a different game. That hurt us. But you to also have to give them credit. We felt that they had the ball around the rim and you fouled him, he's a 46 percent foul shooter. But he was 7-9. (Owens was a 42 percent free throw shooter coming into the game)."