Back To The Sweet 16!!!
March 17, 2001
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.
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.
By BERNIE WILSON
AP Sports Writer
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