Stanford Edges Denver

Dec. 13, 2004

By JOHN MARSHALL
AP Sports Writer

DENVER (AP) - Dan Grunfeld had 13 points and 10 rebounds and Rob Little hada key block in the closing seconds to help Stanford hold off Denver 56-52Monday night.

Stanford (3-4) had lost three straight games and was hoping to have an easynight against a team from the smaller Sun Belt Conference.

Denver (4-3) just wouldn't cooperate.

Playing in front of a rare sellout crowd, the Pioneers held their ownagainst the Pac-10 powerhouse, overcoming a shaky start to keep it close untilthe very end.

Rodney Billups, younger brother of Detroit Pistons star Chauncey Billups,had 18 points and Andrew Carpenter added 13, but Denver just couldn't come upwith the big plays down the stretch to pull off the upset.

The Pioneers took a 50-49 lead with 2 minutes left on Billups' 3-pointerfrom the wing, then Stanford went back up on Chris Hernandez's two free throws.Billups had another chance after a Stanford turnover, but Little swooped in toblock his layup attempt with about 25 seconds left.

Nick Robinson then hit 1 of 2 free throws and Grunfeld sealed it with 19.2seconds left after the Cardinal got an offensive rebound on Robinson's miss.

Hernandez led Stanford with 14 points, but was just 4-for-13 from the field.The Cardinal shot 37 percent overall.

Denver opened the season 4-2, beating the likes of North Dakota State,Eastern Washington, Cal State-Fullerton and South Dakota State.

The Pioneers had a bit more trouble against the bigger, more athleticCardinal early in this one.

Muscling inside for easy shots and crowding the passing lanes to forceturnovers at the other end, Stanford opened the game with a 10-3 run and laterpushed the lead to 23-9.

But after a dominating start, the Cardinal got sloppy to let Denver back init.

Stanford ended the first half without a field goal in the final 5:46,managing just two points on Grunfeld's free throws with 17 seconds left. TheCardinal shot just 38 percent in the half and had eight shots blocked - five byYemi Nicholson, who had seven total.

Denver's defense spurred its offense, allowing the Pioneers to get out onthe break and close the first half with a 15-4 run. Denver rebounded from anawful start to shoot 10-of-23 and trailed just 27-25 at halftime despite 10turnovers.

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