Palo Alto Weekly

Sports - February 28, 2014

Cardinal men lose a shot at moving up in Pac-12

Basketball loss at ASU is a step back toward improving tournament seeding

by Rick Eymer

Anthony Brown scored 18 of his 21 points in the second half but the Stanford men's basketball team missed an opportunity to improve its lot in the Pac-12 Conference on Wednesday night, losing to host Arizona State, 76-64.

Chasson Randle scored 17 points before fouling out with 7:11 remaining to play in the game. He shot 50 percent from the field, but he also committed a couple of key turnovers. Dwight Powell added 11 points.

The Cardinal never could take advantage of Arizona State cold spells or turnovers and its own shooting woes did not help.

"It was definitely a bad start for us," Stanford coach Johnny Dawkins said. "I wish we could have played better. We turned the ball over too much. In a game like that, you have you hit your free throws and take care of the ball and we didn't do either of those things."

Stanford had won five of its previous six games and will now have the not so enviable distinction of traveling to Tucson to take on No. 3 Arizona in a 5 p.m. contest Sunday.

"This is a tough conference and every night is going to be tough," Dawkins said. "We have to go at it and compete."

Instead of inching closer to second place in the conference and holding onto third by itself, the Cardinal is forced into sharing third place with California, Colorado and the Sun Devils with a first-round bye in the Pac-12 tournament in serious jeopardy.

If the tournament were to be played now, Stanford would be the sixth seed.

"We have lost the first game of every road trip," Brown said. "We have to go back to the drawing board. It's as simple as that."

Arizona State led by as many as 18 points midway through the second half and held on as the Cardinal managed to reduce the deficit without making much progress.

Women's golf

Stanford's Mariah Stackhouse held on to win the UC Irvine Invitational by shooting a final-round 73 to claim a two-shot victory over Pepperdine's Grace Na Tuesday at Santa Ana Country Club earlier in the week.

Stackhouse finished the 54-hole tournament with a 4-under 212 (70-69-73) for her fourth career win and seventh top-10 showing on the season.

To go along with the victory, Stackhouse received a sponsor exemption to the 2014 Kia Classic (March 27-30) at the Aviara Golf Club.

Stanford pulled out its third team victory with an even-par 864 (289-289-286) at the par-72, 5,842-yard course. The Cardinal is one victory away from matching its three-match winning streak to begin the spring portion of last season's schedule.

Women's tennis

In a battle between to of the top five teams in the nation, No. 3 Stanford toppled No. 5 Florida, 7-0, in nonconference action Sunday at Taube Family Tennis Center. The showdown was a rematch of last year's NCAA team semifinals, also won by the Cardinal — winner of two national titles in the past four years and nine in the past 16.

Stanford (7-0), with its solid crop of freshmen, may be better than the team that won last year's national title. The Gators (8-2), who have won two of the past three national titles, are a good barometer for any team seeking to reach the top.

"Florida has very good players up and down the lineup, and they are a little young too, just like we are," Cardinal coach Lele Forood said. "This was just a great team win for us. The doubles set a nice tone, although I don't think it would have been critical had we not won it. We have been finding ourselves, moving the lineup around a bit and were just trying to find out where we need to be."

Sophomore Krista Hardebeck, 4-2 lifetime against the Gators, recorded the clinching point for Stanford against Florida for the second straight meeting. She did it last May in the NCAA semifinals.

Stanford returns to action on Saturday, facing host California at 1 p.m.

This weekend

It's a championship weekend for multiple Cardinal teams, highlighted by Stanford playing host to the Pac-12 Wrestling Championships Sunday at Maples Pavilion.

While Stanford wrestling goes for its first Pac-12 team title, women's swimming and diving, as well as men's diving, go for conference titles of their own as the Pac-12 Women's Swimming and Men's and Women's Diving Championships wrap up.

Indoor track & field rounds out the Cardinal squads competing in conference championship events this weekend as they compete in Seattle for the MPSF Indoor Track & Field Championships.

Stanford women's basketball began its final weekend of the regular season Thursday night against Washington, aiming to avenge it's only Pac-12 loss this season and just the second over the past five years. The Cardinal's weekend concludes Saturday at 7:30 p.m. on Senior Night, as seniors Sara James, Toni Kokenis, Chiney Ogwumike and Mikaela Ruef will be honored.

Men's and women's gymnastics and women's lacrosse will all be in action on The Farm over the weekend, as well.

On the road, baseball and softball each head east, with the baseball team aiming for its first weekend-series win of the year in Nashville, taking on Vanderbilt. The softball team travels to Tampa for the Under Armour Invitational, playing five games over three days.

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