Aug. 29, 2007
VARESE, Italy- Gabriel Fernandez knocked down the second of two free throw attempts with 12.3 seconds remaining, lifting Cimberio Varese to a 69-68 victory over Stanford on Wednesday night in Varese.
In an extremely close game that featured 16 lead changes and five ties, Varese attempted 11 more free throws and denied the Cardinal a chance to win on the game's final possession.
Stanford is now 3-3 on its seven-game, 11-day foreign tour, which concludes Thursday evening with a contest against Division 2 competitor Fastweb Casale in Valenza.
The Cardinal was playing in arguably its toughest environment so far on the tour, with approximately 2,500 raucous fans packing Varese's 5,200-seat arena. And despite trailing by five late in the fourth quarter while losing Landry Fields and Robin Lopez to foul trouble, Stanford was able to hang close with a chance to win the game.
"They may not have been the most talented team we faced so far, but they were the best team and that was the best environment," said head coach Trent Johnson. "I thought we played well and we had an opportunity to win the game down the stretch. It was good to see how the guys reacted in a tightly-contested game in that environment against older men."
"We got a chance to see how we handle pressure and I thought we did a solid job in that regard. For the most part, we kept our composure down the stretch when we faced adversity. Now we have one game left tomorrow and I hope we can finish this trip the way we started."
Brook Lopez posted a double-double, leading the Cardinal with 17 points on 8-16 shooting with 12 rebounds. Lawrence Hill added 16 points and seven boards while Anthony Goods chipped in with 15 points. Mitch Johnson dished out a team-best five assists.
Stanford led after the first and third quarters, holding a 55-50 lead in the latter. The Cardinal shot 42-percent from the field, 44-percent from three-point territory, 75-percent from the foul line and held a 38-35 edge on the glass.
However, the Cardinal could not offset a game-high 24 points from Varese's Marcus Melvin and a game-winning free throw from Fernandez.
Both squads traded baskets midway through the first quarter until Stanford pieced together a 10-6 scoring run over the final 5:48. Leading the charge was Brook Lopez, scoring six points in the final three minutes.
The Cardinal went back inside again to Brook Lopez to open the second quarter, increasing its lead to 22-17. After five unanswered points from Varese, Fields knocked down a triple to give Stanford a 25-22 edge with 4:40 on the clock. Brook Lopez poured in seven more points in the second quarter, including a free throw with 36 seconds remaining to knot the game at 31-31 heading into halftime.
A pair of free throws from Fields gave Stanford a 40-35 advantage with 7:54 to play in the third quarter. However, Melvin knocked down a pair of treys and added a jumper to put Varese back in front 43-42. Tied at 46-46, the Cardinal scored nine of the next 11 points to take a 55-48 lead following a bucket by Kenny Brown. Stanford led 55-50 after 30 minutes.
Varese reclaimed a 58-57 lead and tacked on four quick points to make it 62-57 with 5:12 remaining. But Stanford stormed back following back-to-back triples from Hill and Fields to take its final lead at 63-62.
Tied at 67-67, the clubs traded free throws and the score was 68-68 with 14.7 seconds remaining following a make by Goods.
Backed by the vocal crowd, Hernandez missed his first chance before knocking down the second to make it 69-68. Stanford was unable to convert on the game's final possession.
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Final totals: Brook Lopez (17 points, 12 rebounds, 1-2 FT, 27 minutes) ... Hill (16 points, 7 rebounds, 1 assist, 2-4 3FG, 2-2 FT, 25 minutes) ... Goods (15 points, 2 rebounds, 3 assists, 2-5 3FG, 3-4 FT, 32 minutes) ... Fields (8 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 2-4 3FG, 2-2 FT, 33 minutes) ... Brown (7 points, 1 rebound, 2 assists, 1-3 3FG, 13 minutes) ... Robin Lopez (5 points, 4 rebounds, 1-2 FT, 25 minutes) ... Johnson (3 rebounds, 5 assists, 24 minutes) ... Shiller (2 rebounds, 2 assists, 16 minutes) ... Paul (2 rebounds, 5 minutes).
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Statistics through six games: Johnson (5 games, 2.6 ppg, 4.0 apg) ... Fields (5 games, 13.4 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 2.6 apg, 11-14 FT) ... Goods (5 games, 14.2 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 10-18 3FG) ... Brook Lopez (5 games, 10.8 ppg, 6.4 rpg) ... Shiller (6 games, 6.5 ppg, 3.0 apg, 6-13 3FG) ... Hill (5 games, 11.8 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 14-22 FT) ... Brown (6 games, 7.5 ppg, 4-17 3FG, 8-10 FT) ... Dildy (6 games, 5.4 ppg, 2.0 rpg) ... Paul (5 games, 8.8 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 16-18 FT) ... Robin Lopez (5 games, 8.6 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 4-8 FT) ... Prowitt (5 games, 5.8 ppg, 5.4 rpg). Note: 3FG and FT were not included in game totals against Veroli.
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The early part of Wednesday was reserved for sightseeing. After breakfast at the hotel, the travel party boarded a private boat at 11 a.m. local time and was given a tour of Lake Como. Though actors George Clooney and Brad Pitt own guesthouses overlooking the lake, there were no celebrity sightings on Wednesday. Following a quick lunch, the group cruised back to the bus and returned to Varese for its pregame meal.
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Stanford will play its final game of the tour Thursday night against Fastweb Casale in Valenza. Tip-off is slated for 9 p.m. local time. Dinner follows the game, and then it's back to the hotel to pack up for an early-morning flight on Friday. The group is scheduled to arrive back in San Francisco on Friday night.