The Stanford Cardinal (18-10, 9-7 Pac-12) suffered a heartbreaking defeat against the Oregon Ducks (22-8, 12-5 Pac-12) on Senior Day at Maples Pavilion with their potential NCAA Tournament destiny on the line.
The game came down to the very last possession as Oregon squeezed out a 73-70 win and dampened Stanford’s March Madness aspirations.
Oregon took a 36-30 halftime lead as Stanford struggled to make shots in the first half. The Card only made eight of their 22 attempts (36.4 percent) from the field. Stanford’s best shooters, senior guards Chasson Randle and Anthony Brown, saw plenty of decent looks rim out.
Head coach Johnny Dawkins was disappointed with the team’s offensive scheme.
“I don’t think we executed the way I would like to see,” he said. “We’re not a team that takes 20 threes. We’re a very good 3-point shooting team, but that’s not we rely on. I thought we settled.”
The Cardinal kept the game close with free throws in the first half. Stanford had 20 attempts (making 13) compared to Oregon’s six attempts.
Stanford attacked the rim ferociously coming out of halftime. It inched its way back into the game by attacking the glass on the offensive end. Fifth-year senior center Stefan Nastic and freshman forward Reid Travis tallied 4 and 3 offensive rebounds, respectively. The Card scored 18 points in the paint and had 12 second-chance points off of offensive rebounds.
Stanford eventually took a 66-63 lead with just over 3 minutes remaining off an acrobatic finish from Randle, then with the game tied at 70 and with 16 seconds left in regulation, Randle committed his lone turnover on the night after being doubled on the perimeter. Oregon sealed the game on free throws after Elgin Cook tipped an inbounds pass from Reid Travis on the final possession of the game.
Despite the agonizing loss, Dawkins still believes his squad is still in the hunt for an NCAA bid.
“I don’t think it kills our [NCAA tournament] chances; we still have our opportunities,” he said. “We have two regular-season games to play on the road against some very good teams and we also have the Pac-12 Tournament, so I don’t think it kills our chances.”
Even after a bittersweet final performance at his home court, Randle was still markedly positive about his experience throughout his four-year career at Maples.
“[I’ll remember] just collective things: all the times — the good times that we had as a team playing out there in Maples,” he said.
Stanford hopes to create one more March Madness memory for its six departing seniors as it closes out the last two games of the regular season.
Contact Irving Rodriguez at irod973 ‘at’ stanford.edu.