Stanford Comes Up Short Against Alabama

Box Score

March 20, 2004

By TIM KORTE
AP Sports Writer

SEATTLE - Josh Childress watched from the end of the bench asStanford's latest comeback attempt came up just short, bouncing off the rim.

This time, there was no fantastic finish for the Cardinal.

Dan Grunfeld missed a 3-pointer from the right wing at the horn and Stanfordbecame the first No. 1 seed to exit the NCAA tournament on Saturday, upset byAlabama 70-67.

'We're extremely disappointed,' coach Mike Montgomery said, lookingstunned in the interview room. 'It's hard to figure out what to say. We justnever could seem to get on track.'

Kennedy Winston scored 21 points and eighth-seeded Alabama (19-13) shot10-of-14 from the free throw line in the final minute.

'People think by our record that we're not a very good team,' said Tidepoint guard Antoine Pettway, who scored 12 points. 'But we just beatStanford.'

The Crimson Tide shot 34-of-44 from the foul line, riding the free throws tothe round of 16 for the first time since 1991. Alabama heads to Phoenix nextweek to face Syracuse.

'We always felt we could beat anybody. Now we really know it,' saidAlabama's Chuck Davis, who scored 12. 'They were the No. 1 team in thecountry, and it gives us a lot of confidence going to Phoenix.'

Childress, the Pac-10 player of the year, scored 12 points but he fouled outwith 3:16 to play and had to watch the final minutes.

'I never felt like it slipped away,' Childress said. 'They hit their freethrows, which was unfortunate for us, but I don't ever feel like it slippedaway.'

Sorry, but this time it did.

Matt Lottich hit a 3-pointer with 7.2 seconds remaining to pull the Cardinalto 70-67 and Alabama's Earnest Shelton missed two free throws at the other endto give Stanford (30-2) a final chance.

Twice earlier this season, Stanford stayed unbeaten with wild shots at thebuzzer, including one over Arizona that brought alum Tiger Woods running ontothe court at Maples Pavillion.

Lottich made a desperation 3-pointer to salvage a win at Washington State onMarch 4, and he hit another against the Tide with 23.6 seconds on the clock topull Stanford to 67-62.

On the Alabama bench, coach Mark Gottfried thought for a moment he might seeStanford do it again.

'I'm sitting there with 15 seconds to go, thinking, 'Are you kidding me?'Gottfried recalled. 'But I wasn't going to bring that up with my playersbecause we needed to concentrate on what we have done, not what they havedone.'

It appeared the Cardinal wouldn't need a last-second shot to beat Alabamaafter taking a 53-40 lead with 7:40 left. But the Crimson Tide rallied with a16-0 run.

'Even when we were down 11, I knew we were going to win,' Davis said. 'Inever felt like we were out of it.'

It was a spectacular turnaround. Alabama was listless through the first 10minutes of the second half, missing 16 of its first 17 field goal attemptsafter the break.

'We knew it was nothing they were doing to make us miss wide-open shots,'Davis said. 'Things started falling, and we took it home from there.'

Alabama's players raced onto the court to celebrate, with Davis falling tothe floor and then hugging Big Al, the Tide mascot. Pettway mugged for thefirst television camera he came across.

Stanford players filed past, shaking hands before retreating quietly to thelocker room.

The second round has been rough on Stanford recently, with the Cardinallosing at this point for the fifth time in the last six years.

'You guys look at the past too much,' Childress said. 'We're talkingabout this year, our 30-2 season.'

Seattle has been tough on Stanford, too.

The season ended two weeks to the day after the Cardinal's onlyregular-season setback, a 75-62 defeat at Washington - just a few miles fromthe site of this stunner.

'The relevance of the past, the relevance of us being in Seattle, therelevance of the last game - all that had nothing to do with this game,'Montgomery insisted.

Maybe, but that didn't help backup center Matt Haryasz as he choked backtears during a postgame radio interview. It didn't ease the pain in theStanford locker room.

'I'm just sick of getting to this point and saying, 'We're going to do itnext year,'' point guard Chris Hernandez said. 'It's to the point where youhave to put it out on the floor and get it done.'

Stanford was a No. 1 seed in 2000, losing to No. 8 North Carolina. Earlierin the day in Seattle, Nevada stunned No. 2 Gonzaga.

Childress' last two fouls came seconds apart.

'It was boom, boom, and he was out,' Montgomery said.

Childress banked in an 8-footer but it was waved off after he was called foran offensive foul. Seconds later he was whistled for a hold at the other end,and Tide fans were on their feet cheering.

'We got back on our heels and they took control,' Lottich said.

Stanford led 51-39 after Childress hit a jumper with 11:20 remaining.

Alabama slowly woke up, though. Shelton hit a 3-pointer, pulling the Tide to53-48 with 5:59 to play, and it was 53-50 after Evan Brock's two free throwswith 5:18 to go.

The Tide kept coming, and when Pettway hit a 3-pointer with 4:04 to playAlabama was up 55-53.

With 13.5 seconds on the clock, Alabama fans started chanting 'overrated.'

The Tide players weren't intimidated, and they showed in the first half theyhad the athleticism to compete with Stanford.

'They weren't overrated. We were underrated,' read a sign in the Alabamalocker room.

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