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COLLEGE BASKETBALL / NCAA TOURNAMENT

Stanford Handles It With Kid Gloves

Midwest Regional: Freshman center Collins helps Cardinal get off the canvas early in rough-and-tumble 67-59 victory over Purdue.

March 21, 1998|CHRIS DUFRESNE | TIMES STAFF WRITER

ST. LOUIS — It was ugly, crazy, physical--as much a Jerry Quarry bout as a basketball game.

"Like two heavyweight, punch-drunk fighters out there, swaying back and forth," Stanford Coach Mike Montgomery said afterward.

Purdue, in the end, hit the deck Friday night while Stanford staggered on, beating the Boilermakers, 67-59, at the Kiel Center to advance to Sunday's Midwest Regional final against Rhode Island, which defeated Valparaiso.

The victory moves Stanford as close to a national title since its championship season of 1942.

The Cardinal did it with its starting guards shooting three for 21, the team shooting 27% in the second half and its top two inside players, Mark Madsen and Tim Young, in foul trouble most of the game.

The Cardinal did it with defense, holding Purdue to 31% shooting.

The Cardinal (29-4) did it by using 11 players, beating Purdue (28-8) to a pulp, getting a key three-point shot from reserve guard David Moseley with 1:03 left to snuff a late Boilermaker rally.

But the Cardinal mostly did it by riding the back of freshman center Jarron Collins, the former star at Harvard-Westlake High School in Studio City.

Collins, averaging only 13 minutes a game, was dispatched after Young got his third foul with 6:41 left in the first half and awoke Stanford from a deep sleep.

Purdue led, 21-16, and had just held Stanford scoreless for a span of 5:12.

By the time Collins tipped in a shot at the buzzer to end the first half, Stanford had reclaimed the lead, built it to 11, and then never lost it.

Collins had 10 points and eight rebounds in the stretch.

"We really got momentum when Jarron came in the game," Madsen said. "A lot of us were winded, but all of a sudden we had spring in our legs again."

Stanford maintained control of a sloppy, defense-dominated second half until it nearly came apart in the final minutes, almost blowing the 10-point lead it held with 3:24 left.

Purdue trimmed the lead to three at 60-57 with 1:31 left when Brian Cardinal completed a three-point play with basket and foul shot, but Moseley answered with his three-pointer to extend the lead back to six.

"It was kind of a 'No! No! No! Good shot!' kind of thing," Collins would say of Moseley's basket.

Guard Arthur Lee's four free throws in the final minute clinched the victory.

Afterward, though, the talk was all about Collins, who finished with 12 points and 11 rebounds (eight offensive) in 23 minutes.

Collins and his brother Jason, of course, were two of the area's most prized recruits last year. The two had narrowed their college choices to UCLA and Stanford, but Jim Harrick's firing in Westwood ultimately pointed the twins north to Stanford.

Jarron Collins made the Pacific 10 Conference all-freshman team, and had a 12-point game against UCLA, but he was officially unveiled Friday night (Jason Collins is out because of a knee injury).

"Jarron came in and kind of shook things up, just by moving and hustling," Montgomery said.

His teammates said he made the difference.

"He was the spark plug," said Lee, who was not, after making only three of 11 shots . "He was the reason why we had the lead at the half."

It was, all told, a night when the offenses were offensive. Purdue thought it had the size to fight Stanford, but ended up with more bruises. At game's end, center Brad Miller needed two stitches to close a gash on his chin.

"Definitely one of the most physical games I've been a part of," Boilermaker forward Cardinal said.

Stanford outrebounded Purdue, 53-40. Purdue Coach Gene Keady won't forget the 21-14 first-half lead his team let get away.

"After we were up seven, we took four horrendous shots," he said. "That was the game, although we didn't know it at the time."

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