Anthony Brown made a successful return to the Stanford men's basketball program and he made a lot of people happy, including himself, as a result.
Brown scored 14 points, shooting 50 percent from the field, and hit a key 3-pointer in the final minutes to help the Cardinal open its season with a 72-68 victory over visiting Bucknell on Friday night.
Stanford improved to 81-18 overall in season openers. The Cardinal hope to maintain some momentum when it plays host to BYU on Monday night at 8 p.m., to be televised on ESPN2.
Dwight Powell led the way with 17 points and 12 rebounds. He also led the Cardinal with five assists.
Powell missed the front end of a 1-on-1 in the final three seconds, though his defensive presence did not allow the Bisons, who won a school-record 28 games and reached the NCAA tournament last year, a clear shot at the basket.
For Powell, though, it means coming back to Maples Pavilion and working on free throws. It was really the only thing he missed all night.
"I still think there were lessons to be learned," Powell said. "We can't let guys get into a rhythm. We need to be more active in our zone and press. We need to be in the right place defensively."
All in all, it was clear having Brown back in the lineup meant a lot to Powell and to Cardinal coach Johnny Dawkins.
"It was a successful return," Dawkins said. "He can score, he hit the big 3 and his best value is his perimeter defense."
Bucknell closed to within 67-66 with 2:47 remaining to play in the contest. Stefan Nastic, who scored 11 points and grabbed six rebounds, kicked a pass out to Brown in the corner. It one motion Brown threw a dagger into the Bisons' comeback plans.
"I was in rhythm," Brown said. "I had just hit a couple of shots. When the ball came back out I just needed to shoot my shot."
Brown, who missed most of last season with a hip injury, was a bit apprehensive about his return to the court.
"I was a little nervous at first," he said. "It felt like it had been so long. Once the ball was tipped, I was fine."
He was anything but fine when he was away from the game, rehabbing his injury.
"It was tough not being able to play with my brothers," Brown said of his time away. "We spend a lot of time together on and off the court. I wished I could have been out there. It was tough not making the road trips."
Chasson Randle led the team with 18 points. Josh Huestis added eight rebounds. Aaron Bright, who started last season 0 for 13 from 3-point range, hit his first one and finished 2 of 3.