The Stanford Cardinal will compete for an NIT Championship for the second time in three years behind a historic performance from Chasson Randle. The decorated guard became Stanford’s all-time leading scorer after a first-half free throw, and his game-high 24 points led Stanford to a 67-60 win over No. 1 Old Dominion in the tourney semifinal at Madison Square Garden.
“I’m looking at it as something that I’m very proud of our guys because a lot of teams haven’t felt the disappointment of maybe not making the NCAAs or would have maybe shut it down, especially seniors and not continuing to compete,” said head coach Johnny Dawkins. “These guys showed what they made of. They showed their character.”
Stanford raced out to an 18-2 lead behind three treys from fifth-year senior Anthony Brown and sophomore Marcus Allen. Fifth-year senior Stefan Nastic played a big role in the Cardinal’s effectiveness. He saw plenty of looks at the elbow in the first minutes. He sank two jumpers and assisted two of Brown’s shots once he was double-teamed. The defense was also rolling in the opening five minutes, contesting almost every jumper and forcing multiple one-and-dones.
The Cardinal threw several different looks at Trey Freeman, Old Dominion’s leading scorer, and successfully held him scoreless in the half on 9 field goal attempts. The junior guard, averaging 17.1 points per game for the season, was bothered by Brown’s length and Allen’s quick hands and couldn’t get off many clean looks.
ODU was down 25-4 due to their lack of offense but built a gritty comeback fueled by their defensive effort. The frontcourt forced 10 turnovers which led to 13 transition points. Despite Freeman’s struggles, Javonte Douglas was productive, notching 7 of his 9 first half points at the free-throw line to help the Monarchs get within 6 at halftime after their 21-point deficit.
Chasson Randle added to his already illustrious career with a minute left in the first half. Randle made a floater on the right wing to amass 2,337 career points, surpassing Todd Lichti’s previous record to become Stanford’s all-time leading scorer.
“It’s a great honor just to be able to have my name behind it,” Randle said. “But at the same time, it’s not just me who helped get myself in there. A lot of my teammates, family, coaches, everybody, helped me get there, starting at Rock Island.”
The Monarchs’ second-half execution was flawless coming out of the locker room. Ambrose Mosley made two 3-pointers, Freeman scored on back-to-back possessions and Old Dominion took their first lead of the game after a Richard Ross bucket at the 10-minute mark. The senior tallied 15 total points on the bench and was a perfect 7-7 from the field.
With the game tied at 49, Randle started to take over down the stretch. He made consecutive 3-pointers to put Stanford ahead 57-52, and the Cardinal never relinquished the lead from that point. Chasson made two more jumpers and four free throws in the last three minutes to seal the game.
“After we lost the lead, I thought we played ten beautiful minutes of basketball, maybe the best ten minutes we have in any first half this season,” Dawkins said.
The Cardinal are now one win away from becoming three-time NIT Champions. Stanford will face off against the University of Miami in the championship game on Thursday at Madison Square Garden.
“For me to win an NIT Championship, for our seniors, we went out on top and won our last game and that’s very special, or would be very special for us,” Randle said. “For the younger guys, they will have something to hang their hats on for next year going into next season.”
Contact Irving Rodriguez at irodriguez ‘at’ stanford.edu.