Stanford Slips Past San Diego

March 20, 2003

Box Score

By TIM KORTE
AP Sports Writer

SPOKANE, Wash. - Mike Montgomery's script never includes those timely, dramatic baskets by Stanford's Matt Lottich.

Lottich scored 17 points and hit a big 3-pointer with 49.7 seconds remaining, lifting fourth-seeded Stanford to a 77-69 victory over No. 13 San Diego on Thursday in the first round of the South Regional.

'I can't tell you how many 3-point shots Lottie has made lately,' Montgomery said. 'He's got the guts of a burglar.'

The Cardinal (24-8), making a ninth straight NCAA appearance, came within a whisker of a first-round exit for the first time since 1992. Stanford plays Saturday against Connecticut (22-9), which beat BYU 58-53 earlier.

Josh Childress scored 22 points and Julius Barnes had 18 for Stanford, which blew a 19-point first-half lead but rallied after San Diego (18-12) went ahead 66-63 on a bank shot by Roy Morris with 3:42 to go.

Barnes hit two free throws and Rob Little scored underneath to put the Cardinal up 69-66 with 1:34 remaining. San Diego's Jason Blair missed a 3-pointer and Lottich hit his critical 3 at the other end.

Lottich also made a key 3-pointer late in Stanford's 82-77 win at then-No. 1 Arizona. He had 18 points in the final seven minutes as the Cardinal erased a 15-point deficit to win at Oregon State.

'All season long, Julius and Josh penetrate and I get open looks,' Lottich said. 'Late in the game the other team concentrates even more on them, our two main guys. My guy sags off when they penetrate and I'm the beneficiary.'

Blair had a great game, scoring 27 points. Jason Keep, a 6-foot-10, 275-pound center who played on two NCAA tournament teams at Oklahoma State, had 12 points and nine rebounds but struggled with foul trouble and didn't score in the second half.

'That hurts,' San Diego coach Brad Holland said. 'The last time I checked, we need Jason Keep to score for us to win.'

The Toreros were making their first NCAA tournament appearance in 16 years, the first trip in nine seasons under Holland. They upset Gonzaga in the West Coast Conference finals to earn the berth.

Leading 35-32 at halftime, the Cardinal went inside, with Little scoring eight of Stanford's first 10 second-half points for a 45-37 lead.

'Stanford became more physical in the second half,' Blair said. 'They started banging on us.'

That didn't stop the Toreros, a Spanish word for 'Bullfighters.' They chipped at the margin, coming back despite having Keep on the bench.

When freshman Nick Lewis made two free throws with 7:38 to play, Stanford's lead was 59-58. Mike McGrain then made one of two foul shots with 5:55 on the clock, tying it at 61, the first time since the opening tip.

'We got off to our traditional slow start in a big game, but we worked our way out of it,' Holland said.

Stanford's Justin Davis was whistled for his fifth foul on a scramble for the ensuing rebound, and the Toreros had everything in place for an upset. Corey Belser's free throw gave San Diego a 62-61 lead and boisterous support from Spokane fans.

'We weren't expected to win,' Blair said. 'We gave them a run for their money.'

It was nothing new, though, for Stanford, which was upset by Southern California in the Pac-10 tournament quarterfinals.

'It got late and they went up,' Montgomery said. 'It didn't look good. I will say, for those who haven't followed us all season, that we've played the vast majority of our games like this one.'

Stanford opened with a 9-0 burst, and it was 14-2 when Lottich hit a 3-pointer four minutes after tipoff. The Toreros regrouped, and Blair scored 11 points as they used a 16-2 run to trim the deficit to 35-32 at halftime.

'I wasn't really worried about us being down at the start,' Blair said. 'We are mentally tough. I knew we would be back.'

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