STANFORD, Calif.- Anthony Brown was happy to get back on the court. Getting a chance to help win his first game back was even more fun.
Brown, who missed most of last season with a hip injury, scored 14 points on 5-10 shooting, Chasson Randle scored 12 of his 18 points in the second half, and Stanford opened the season with a 72-68 victory over Bucknell on Friday night.
"I was a little nervous at first because it felt so long," Brown said. "Once the ball was tipped, everything was fine."
"Having him back was great," Powell said of Brown. "Even when he was out, he still brought a lot of energy to the team. It was a lot of fun."
Ben Brackney scored 13 points and had eight rebounds to lead the Bison, who graduated three starters from their record-setting team of a year ago.
Three other Bison players reached double figures in scoring: Steven Kaspar with 12, Cameron Ayers with 11 and Brian Fitzpatrick with 10.
"We sure had our chances in this game," Bucknell coach Dave Paulsen said. "We competed well, but we didn't come all the way out here for moral victories."
The Cardinal never trailed in the second half, though the game was tied at 49 apiece when Dom Hoffman made a layup midway through the second half.
Brackney had a chance to tie the game for Bucknell, who won a school-record 28 games last season, with 2:47 left, making two of three foul shots and leaving it at 67-66.
Brown hit a 3-pointer from the corner 10 seconds later to put the Cardinal ahead by four.
"I was in a rhythm," Brown said. "I had made a couple of shots before then and when it came back out to me I just had to shoot my shot."
It was particularly hard for Paulsen to see the 3-pointer go down moments after the Bison fought back from a slight deficit.
"Those can be daggers," Paulsen said. "That was an especially tough one for us. Our guys had plenty of good looks but a lot of our shots just didn't go down for us."
The lead changed hands 11 times in the first half, with Stanford holding the biggest lead at 33-27 with 3:38 left in the first half on a Powell layup.
"Dwight and Chasson were big for us down the stretch," Cardinal coach Johnny Dawkins said. "They showed poise and experience. I thought for Anthony, it was a successful return. He can score, he hit that big 3 and his best value is his perimeter defense."
Ayers hit a 3-pointer late to bring the Bison within one, 35-34, at the half.
Nastic made his first three throws of the contest before missing his fourth attempt, ending a string of 16 consecutive foul shots dating to last year.
Aaron Bright opened last year missing his first 13 3-point attempts. He hit his first attempt of the season and finished 2 of 3 from long range.
Bucknell made its first visit to California in six years. The Bison last played a Pac-12 team in the 2012 NIT tournament, upsetting Arizona 65-54 in the first round.
Stanford remained undefeated in 16 games played against teams from the Patriot League.
Bucknell president John Bravman is a Stanford grad and was a member of the school's faculty, receiving a lifetime service award in 2010.
- by Rick Eymer, Associated Press
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NOTES: Friday marked the first ever meeting between Stanford and Bucknell ... In its 99-year history, the Cardinal sports an 81-18 record in season openers ... Stefan Nastic matched a career high with 11 points ... Dwight Powell recorded his 14th career double-double with 17 points and 12 rebounds. Powell added a career-high six assists ... Nastic matched his career high with two assists ... Josh Huestis moved into sole possession of fifth place for career blocks at Stanford as his four blocks gave him 125 in his career ... Powell moved into a tie with Jason Collins for ninth on Stanford's career blocks list with 89 ... After missing his first 13 three-point attempts to start last year, Aaron Bright nailed his first try of the 2013-14 campaign ... Chasson Randle was 8-9 from the charity stripe.
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Stanford Head Coach Johnny Dawkins
“Well, we’re 1-0 against a tough, feisty team in Bucknell. And like I said, I thought they did a great job. They executed extremely well and their guys made shots. They have some guys that are terrific shooters in their low post positions, and I’m just really, really impressed with the way they played. I thought our guys did a great job of responding. There were times where they had the lead or we were only up by a possession or two, and we really had to focus and make plays. I thought our guys stepped up and did that, especially in the second half. Guys like Dwight and Chasson down the stretch were big for us. They showed some poise, showed their experience, and made the plays necessary for us to close the game.”
On Bucknell’s scoring late in the shot clock…
“I’m going to give Bucknell credit for that because I’ve watched a lot of tape of them, and they play late into the shot clock all the time. That’s their style of play: they go deep into the shot clock, and you’d be amazed how many shots they end up hitting with two, three seconds on the shot clock. They work the entire possession. That’s what they teach; that’s how they play. They want to run an offense. They want to make you guard. And they did that tonight. And so I thought it would be a good test for our guys because it takes a mature team to win a game like that, because when a team is scoring late into the shot clock, it can be demoralizing.”
On the difficulty of Stanford’s early schedule…
“We wanted to have the best schedule possible, the most competitive schedule we could have. I think we’ve done that. For us, it’s about getting better through the preseason in preparation for conference play. And so for us, we’re looking at this as an opportunity to grow as a team. We took a big step today, having to face a team in a really tight game situation with under two minutes. We were in those situations a number of times last year, and we came up empty a number of times. So here’s a night where we’re in the same situation and it’s a four-point game for us. So to me that shows improvement. That shows our guys learning how to close games.”
On Anthony Brown’s return from injury…
“I thought it was a successful return. We’ve been excited. All last season I tried to just forget about him, because he was injured. So I didn’t want to even have him in my mind, like, “How would it be if we had Anthony.” But I knew Anthony was a good player. Not only does he score and hit a big 3, but his best value is that he’s a really good perimeter defender. I mean, he had a tough assignment tonight on a young man that I’ve known for quite a long time, Cameron Ayers.”
On the play of Dwight Powell…
“I thought Dwight was terrific, because we got him inside, he scored a big bucket down the stretch. He also was able to go outside, shoot the three. He was also able to go outside, drive, attack the paint. He did a little bit of everything, and so the offense still allows him to be at the post for us, and I think you’ll see that. So he’ll spend probably at least half his time in there, as well as on the perimeter.”
On Stanford’s new triangle offense…
“I think it went pretty good. I think there are a lot of things we can improve on¬¬¬. There are a lot of lessons to learn from that film, from that game. I think a lot of guys enjoyed the system. It gives guys opportunities to get the ball in good operating areas and get motion without having to call a play every time, so we enjoy it.”
On room for improvement…
“I think first and foremost, we’ve got to work on just defensive awareness and overall game-planning. It’s tough, especially in the beginning of the season, after playing against pretty much the same group, running an offense that you’re very familiar with, all offseason. So getting back in the swing of things with scouting and understanding personnel from the very start of the game, and taking guys out of their rhythm before they get started, and just being in the right place at the right time on defense, I think we need to step that up a lot. But that comes with time, and a lot more practice.”
On having fellow senior Anthony Brown back from injury…
“It’s great. Even when Anthony wasn’t with us, his energy and his love of the game and his knowledge of the game has been great, over the time he hasn’t been here. So since he’s been back, it’s been like a whole new dynamic to the team. Long, athletic, lanky guy on transition. It’s easier to push defenses when we have him out there because he spreads them out, but at the same time, he can get to the basket, elevate and finish. He just has length on defense. We can put him on shooters, we can put him on bigger guys. It’s great having him back. It’s been a lot of fun.”
On returning after his season-ending injury in 2012-13…
“It felt great, you know, just going out there and competing with my teammates. I was a little nervous at first, just because it felt like it’s been so long, but once the ball was tipped, I got into the flow of the game and we were able to pull it out.”
On room for improvement…
“There were a lot of times tonight when we got up by seven, and they came down, hit a 3, got some free throws, back to two. Got it to seven, and they kept closing the gap. I think that once it gets to seven, we need to push it up to 10. When it gets to 10, push it to 15.”
On dealing with injury last season…
“I mean, it was tough. These guys are like my brothers. We spend all our time together on and off the court. So there were a lot of days where I wished I could be on the road trips, or I wished I could be out there, but I just told myself to rehab as best as I could, and try become a better player, so when I came back, we [could] go out with a bang, especially for my class that I came in with. I think it’s really important for them to leave their mark on this university.”
Bucknell Head Coach Dave Paulsen
“We sure had our chances in this game. We competed well, but we didn't come all the way out here for moral victories. We gave up a lot of size underneath, but our guys hung in there. Powell and Randle made the plays down the stretch; they've been around awhile and know the drill.”
“We did a better job of keeping them off the glass in the second half, but we gave up a couple of kick-out threes. Brown's was an especially tough one for us. Our guys had plenty of good looks but a lot of our shots just didn't go down for us. It wasn't our night. Give Stanford all the credit. They're a veteran team, they made the plays when they needed them, and that was the difference.”