No. 2 Stanford Advances To Pac-10 Title Game

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March 12, 2004

By BETH HARRIS
AP Sports Writer

LOS ANGELES - Oregon gave once-beaten Stanford all it could handle for nearly 38 minutes. Then Matt Lottich came up with a game-turning defensive play.

Lottich blocked a shot that could have given the Ducks the lead, triggering a 9-2 game-ending run that gave the Cardinal a 70-63 victory in the Pac-10 tournament semifinals Friday night.

'We had to come out with massive energy,' said Andre Joseph, who led the Ducks with 16 points. 'We did that for the first 37 minutes and kind of broke down for the last three minutes.'

The Cardinal (28-1) will play either third-seeded Arizona or second-seeded Washington in Saturday's championship game. The winner earns an automatic berth to the NCAA tournament, where No. 2 Stanford could get a top seed in its 10th consecutive appearance.

Josh Childress scored 18 points and contributed to Stanford's smothering defense on Ducks star Luke Jackson, who was held to 12 points - 9� below his average.

'They just kind of challenge the guards and make the big guys beat them,' Jackson said. 'Every time we'd drive in, they had guys collapsing on us.'

The fifth-seeded Ducks (15-12) have lost five of their last eight games and are likely headed to the NIT a year after winning the Pac-10 tourney title.

'Hopefully we'll get an NIT bid and continue to play,' Oregon coach Ernie Kent said.

Stanford blew an eight-point lead with 7� minutes remaining. The Ducks ran off nine straight points for a 56-55 lead. Jackson scored four points and James Davis added a 3-pointer as part of the spurt.

'It was my job as well as Nick's to limit the amount of touches he'd get,' Childress said about Jackson. 'He's a great player and he played a heck of a game.'

But then Rob Little took over for the Cardinal, scoring six in a row for a 61-59 lead with 3:23 to play. Oregon managed a tie at 61-all on an inside basket by Mitch Platt off Jackson's assist.

Then Lottich blocked Jackson's 3-point attempt.

'I didn't even see him,' Jackson said. 'That was just one of a few mistakes in the last four, five minutes that gave Stanford the confidence to beat us.'

Lottich got the ball for a fast-break layup and was fouled in the process. He made the free throw to complete the three-point play and give Stanford a 64-61 lead with 2:19 remaining.

'We were kind of in a scramble,' Lottich said. 'I saw Luke with the ball and he's such a clutch player, I knew if he got it off he'd bury it. I was just lucky to get a hand on it.'

The Cardinal scored the next four points to put the game away on a jump hook by Joe Kirchofer and two free throws from Childress.

'Oregon is very physical down low and can shoot the heck out of the ball,' Childress said. 'We had to match their intensity the whole game and that's what caused us problems early on. They played aggressive, physical basketball.'

In the first half, Stanford had no offensive rebounds to Oregon's six, in part because Little was limited to five minutes with two fouls. The Cardinal got outrebounded 38-34 for the game.

'It was a defensive slugfest in the first half,' Kent said.

In January, the Cardinal trailed by 19 points - their biggest deficit this season - in Eugene, Ore., before pulling out an 83-80 victory. They later completed a sweep of the Ducks.

Lottich added 15 points and Little 13 for Stanford.

Stanford reached 28 victories for the fourth team in school history. The 2001 team was 31-3, the 1998 team was 30-5 and the 1942 national championship team was 28-4.

The teams played a close first half, with the largest lead being five points by Oregon in the opening minutes. Jackson didn't score his first points until a three-point play with two minutes left. The Ducks led 24-23 at the break on a 3-pointer by Andre Joseph.

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