Cardinal lead crumbles, Utes prevail in final minutes

Feb. 18, 2022, 1:36 a.m.

Stanford men’s basketball (15-11, 8-8 Pac-12) welcomed Utah (9-16, 2-13 Pac-12) to Maples Pavilion for a Thursday night matchup. Despite holding a lead into the final minutes, the Cardinal could not withstand a closing Utah run and lost 60-56. 

In their first game back from a two-game road stint, the Cardinal needed another win to keep their NCAA tournament hopes alive. Utah entered the game with only one win in the calendar year, posting a 1-12 record since mid-December.

Both teams started out cold from the field, leaving the score at 4-4 after five minutes of play. After a 2-of-10 shooting performance to begin the game, the Cardinal hit their next three shots to jump out to a 12-4 lead.

A pair of turnovers and missed attempts gave Utah a chance to go on a run of its own, and the Utes led 13-12 halfway through the opening period. 

Another cold spell plagued both teams until sophomore forward Brandon Angel took over. Angel scored eight of his 10 points this game in the final five minutes of the half, propelling the Cardinal on a 12-4 run that gave them a 28-21 advantage entering the break. 

In the opening minutes of the second half, each side exchanged punches, but Stanford held onto its lead. After only putting up one shot in the first half, Utah guard Gabe Madsen sank two 3-pointers early on to cut the Cardinal lead to just two. 

Senior forward Jaiden Delaire, freshman guard Isa Silva and junior forward Spencer Jones responded with a 3-point barrage of their own, extending the Cardinal lead to nine. The three was Jones’ last score of the game, however, and he would finish the day with five points on 2-of-12 shooting. 

As Stanford cooled down offensively, Utah center Branden Carlson began to take charge. Carlson scored nine of his game-high 13 points in the second half, all of which came in the Utes’ final push. His last bucket of the contest tied the score at 54 with two minutes remaining in the game.

Following a turnover from Jones — the third for the Cardinal in the final four minutes — Madsen hit an off-balance, stepback 3-pointer as the shot clock expired to take a 57-54 lead. The Utes never trailed again.

After some late-game fouling and a dunk from Angel with 15 seconds left, Utah ultimately prevailed 60-56. Before Angel’s dunk, the Cardinal went over nine minutes of game time without a field goal. 

Following this loss, Stanford’s postseason hopes look bleak. The Cardinal hoped to bolster their resume for the NCAA tournament, but a Quadrant 3 loss to Utah does not help their case. Any path to making the tournament now will likely require them to win the Pac-12 Tournament.

Until then, Stanford will look to realign over the course of four more regular season games, the next of which is the season’s home finale versus Colorado.

Tip-off against the Buffaloes is set for 7 p.m. PT on Saturday at Maples Pavilion.

Zach Zafran was the Vol. 262 managing editor for the sports section. Now a senior staff writer, he has previous experience reporting and writing with SFGATE. You can find Zach around campus wearing swim trunks no matter the weather. Follow him on Twitter at @ZachZafran and contact him at sports 'at'

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