Back To The Sweet 16!!!

March 17, 2001

Box Score

SAN DIEGO - The Stanford Cardinal ended their second-round NCAA funk -with their hearts in their throats, though.

The top-seeded Cardinal survived a scare from No. 9 St. Joseph's and itsphenomenal guard tandem, winning a 90-83 thriller Saturday night to advance tothe West Regional semifinals.

Stanford made all 10 of its free throws in the final 45.1 seconds, six bysenior forward Jarron Collins and four by senior swingman Ryan Mendez, thenation's best free-throw shooter.

Hawks junior guard Marvin O'Connor tied his career high with 37 points,including five 3-point shots, before fouling out with 11.9 seconds left. He gota rousing standing ovation from the Cox Arena crowd - even the Stanford fansstood and cheered. St. Joe's backers chanted 'Mar-vin! Mar-vin!'

O'Connor's clutch 3-pointers helped bring the Hawks back from a 10-pointdeficit with 15:52 left, but they went 1:20 without scoring while Stanfordpadded its lead at the line, and they committed some crucial turnovers in theclosing seconds.

'Wow, what an amazing player, an amazing performance,' StanfordAll-American Casey Jacobsen said of O'Connor. 'I tried everything on defenseagainst him.'

Jason Collins scored 22 points and All-American Casey Jacobsen 21 forStanford (30-2), which tied the school record for victories in a season. St.Joe's freshman guard, Jameer Nelson, added 14 points and nine rebounds for theHawks, who finish at 26-7.

Stanford can qualify for its second Final Four in four seasons withouthaving to leave California. It advances to face fifth-seeded Cincinnati in theregional semifinals on Thursday in Anaheim. Cincinnati beat No. 13 Kent State66-43.

Stanford matched the school record for wins set by the 1997-98 team, whichfinished 30-5 after reaching the Final Four.

It was after that Final Four - the school's first since winning the nationaltitle in 1942 - that its second-round problems began. First came an upset lossto Gonzaga, then a loss to North Carolina last year, when Stanford was the No.1 seed in the South.

'To get past it, it takes a huge burden off our chest,' Jacobsen said.

Added coach Mike Montgomery: 'It's a relief to me. Now I won't have toanswer that question again.'

Still, the Hawks of the Atlantic 10 Conference almost sent the three-timePacific-10 champions home early again.

O'Connor made three 3-pointers to key an 18-7 run that gave the Hawks theirfirst lead of the game, 59-58. His 3 from the right corner with 10:42 to playpulled the Hawks within a point and sent the players on the bench leaping intothe air and their fans into a frenzy.

Alexandre Sazonov made a layup the next time down the floor for the 59-58lead.

O'Connor made two more shots, one a 3-pointer, and Damian Reed converted athree-point play for the Hawks' biggest lead, 67-62 with 8:25 left.

But Stanford came back behind seven points from Jason Collins, and soon itwas the Cardinal doing the celebrating after a steal and fast-break stuff byJulius Barnes gave them an 80-76 lead with 2:34 to play.

As a timeout was called, Barnes' teammates mobbed him near halfcourt.

AP Sports Writer

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