After suffering a brutal 80-56 loss to No. 17 Utah (24-7, 13-5 Pac-12) on Thursday night in the Pac-12 quarterfinals, Stanford (19-13, 9-9 Pac-12) is now out of the Pac-12 tournament.
The Cardinal kept the game close for the first 30 minutes and led 39-34 at halftime, but an overall lack of discipline ultimately did the team in near the 10-minute mark of the second half when third-seeded Utah finally found flow. Sophomore guard Marcus Allen and senior center Stefan Nastic picked up two early fouls in the first five minutes of the second frame, and the team tallied five turnovers in the first 12 minutes.
Stanford was within seven points with 12 minutes left in the second half thanks to guard Chasson Randle’s best game in recent weeks. The fifth-year senior was Stanford’s foremost contributor of the night, scoring 22 of the Cardinal’s 56 total points and playing like the Pac-12 Player of the Year candidate he once was. Nastic and fifth-year senior guard/forward Anthony Brown shot a combined 5-of-19 from the field, but they couldn’t quite get themselves into the game against the defense of Utah.
The Utes mounted a 19-3 run behind the play of senior guard Delon Wright, and Stanford’s defense eventually faded against six straight transition points after three turnovers. The Cardinal also had trouble securing defensive rebounds, as Utah outrebounded Stanford 37 to 24, including 10 offensive boards that led to 14 second-chance points.
The game took a turn for the worst for Stanford when Randle committed a flagrant foul on freshman forward Jakob Poeltl’s breakaway. Utah pulled ahead by 14 and used four consecutive stops to balloon its lead to 20. From then on, the Utes did not look back.
“I thought we ran into a team that had a very, very hot second half and it’s hard to overcome that, but I believe in our guys and I thought we had a chance and I thought in the first half we exhibited that and that we believed,” head coach Johnny Dawkins told GoStanford.com. “In the second half they came out with the determination and the level of physical play and they were able to set a tone there and it was tough for us to respond.”
With this loss, Stanford’s NCAA aspirations have all but evaporated. The Cardinal will most likely participate in the NIT to finish the season.
Contact Irving Rodriguez at irodriguez ‘at’ stanford.edu.