STANFORD — The condition of UCLA's basketball team, fading fast after a beating two nights earlier, was upgraded to positive Wednesday night, even in a double-overtime defeat. That was thanks to one of the best Christmas-time turn-arounds since Ebenezer Scrooge.
The Bruins, close after the first 20 minutes, trailed by as many as 16 points in the second half and appeared headed for their second straight double-digit loss. Instead, they just got their second straight loss, period. The score after the two overtimes was 116-110, with Stanford winning before a crowd of 7,236 at Maples Pavilion.
UCLA dropped to 3-6 overall and 0-2 in the Pacific 10 Conference. Bad, but not necessarily unbearable considering the way the Bruins came back to turn the game into a thriller. And not unbearable considering history. They started 0-2 last season and came back to take the conference title with a 14-4 record. The Bruins also went from 0-2 to 14-4 in 1981-82, the season Oregon State won the championship.
"I thought the team did a great job," UCLA Coach Walt Hazzard said. "And I think we can play this way all year."
The game was tied at the end of regulation, 84-84, as UCLA's Pooh Richardson sank a 16-foot jump shot with seven seconds to play to tie it. It was 99-99 at the conclusion of the first overtime, this time when Todd Lichti came up with a clutch shot for Stanford, a three-pointer from the right side with three seconds left.
Stanford (8-2, 2-0) took control in the second extra period, jumping out to a 113-103 advantage and holding on. After being outscored, 46-43, in the second half and playing UCLA even in the first overtime, the Cardinal took the second extra period, 17-11.
Along the way, Stanford scored the second-most points in school history, trailing only the 129 against Yale in the 1985-86 season. UCLA also moved into the record book with the most points by a losing team in Pac-10 history.
Richardson, held to 4 points in the first half, took control for the Bruins and had a great finish, scoring 25 to go with 9 assists. Trevor Wilson added 22 points and Dave Immel 20.
Howard Wright had 30 points and 11 rebounds, both game highs, to lead Stanford. It also upped his career best for scoring, after a 24-point effort Monday night against USC. Lichti, with a quiet second half before heating up in the overtimes, had 24 points and Terry Taylor added 21.
"I thought they played well once they got going," Stanford Coach Mike Montgomery said. "It was more of an individual type of thing with Richardson, but they still played well. They made the big plays when they needed to down the stretch . . . It was toe-to-toe at the end."
Most of that was due to Richardson, a likely source, and senior forward Kelvin Butler, very much the opposite. Butler, after all, had 7 shot attempts in 37 minutes this season, but Wednesday night he went 5 of 11 for 12 points and had 8 rebounds off the bench.
Looking for its first 2-0 start in conference play in 20 years, Stanford had a 41-38 lead at halftime, thanks mainly to what transpired at the free-throw line in the final 2:01 of the half.
The Cardinal had a one-point lead, 33-32, when Lichti made two free throws. Then, after Butler scored for UCLA, Andrew Vlahov made one from the line with 1:16 to play and had the miss rebounded by Lichti, who scored, was fouled by Charles Rochelin and converted that for a three-point play.
That gave Stanford a 39-34 cushion, which, combined with a nice turn-around jump shot by Greg Butler with 35 seconds remaining before intermission, was enough to hold the lead despite Bruin baskets by Rochelin and, at the buzzer, Immel.
Lichti, an All-Pac 10 selection as a freshman and sophomore, who came in averaging 21.8 points a game on 61% shooting from the floor, led all scorers at halftime with 12 points. That was three better than Immel and Rochelin.
Stanford's lead went to 16 points, 59-43, with 14:07 left in the game thanks to a 18-5 run to start the second half. UCLA reponded with a 13-4 streak not long after to pull back into the game at 70-64.