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Stanford's Rally Has Perfect End

Cardinal stays unbeaten with a desperation three-pointer by Lottich, good for a 63-61 victory over stunned Washington State.

March 05, 2004|From Associated Press

PULLMAN, Wash. — Matt Lottich knew he was out of time, so he simply came up shooting.

After a scramble for a loose ball, Lottich's desperation three-point basket gave top-ranked and undefeated Stanford another buzzer-beating victory, 63-61, over tenacious Washington State on Thursday night.

"I dove in for it. I knew time was low," the low-key Lottich said. "I've done it before."

But rarely with so much on the line.

Stanford (26-0, 17-0 Pacific 10) barely escaped losing to the eighth-place team in the league, and kept alive its hopes of an undefeated season.

"We obviously were very lucky at the end," Coach Mike Montgomery said. "I don't know how many times Matt Lottich has made those."

Montgomery said he felt badly for Washington State (12-15, 6-11), which was looking for its first win in 24 tries against a No. 1 team. He also said his team should not feel too good about the win.

"We need to treat this like a loss a little bit," Montgomery said. "We should not walk away feeling like a million bucks.

"We probably didn't play up to the level you need to win on the road in this league," he said.

The Cardinal shot 46% from the floor and finished 12 points below its season average because of Washington State's aggressive defense.

It was the second time this season Stanford escaped with a one-point victory, following a 63-62 victory at Arizona State in January.

Washington State Coach Dick Bennett was proud of his team.

"It's obvious they have something special going for them," Bennett said of Stanford. "We executed about as well as we could on both ends."

But Bennett believed the referees failed to see Marcus Moore call for a timeout when he couldn't inbound the ball in the closing seconds, resulting in a turnover that set the stage for Lottich.

"They blew it," Bennett said of the officials.

Washington State led, 61-56, with 25 seconds left before Dan Grunfeld cut it to one with a rare four-point play, making a three-pointer and a free throw for his only points of the game.

With 17.2 seconds left, Washington State could not inbound the ball and turned it over on a five-second violation.

Stanford tried to hold the ball for the last shot, but it was knocked away from Chris Hernandez, and the wild scramble followed.

Nick Robinson, who made the last-second shot that lifted the Cardinal past Arizona last month, finally gained control and flipped the ball back to Lottich for the game-winner.

The long shot sent the Stanford players leaping for joy, while stunned Washington State fans, who had sensed a huge upset, stayed in their seats long after the game.

"I grabbed someone and gave them a hug and said, 'We did it again!' " Grunfeld said.

Lottich led Stanford with 15 points, Rob Little added 14, and Josh Childress had 12 points and 10 rebounds before fouling out.

Jeff Varem and Moore led Washington State with 14 points apiece.

Stanford, which needs to defeat Washington on Saturday at Seattle to complete the first 18-0 season in conference history, has won 16 in a row over Washington State. The Cougars have lost 44 consecutive games to ranked teams.

Washington State must beat California on Saturday to have a chance to qualify for the Pac-10 tournament for the first time.

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