Stanford Advances In Tourney With 77-69 Scare From San Diego

March 20, 2003

Spokane, Wash. - Matt Lottich helped Stanford to a quick start, then saved the Cardinal with his late scoring.

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

The Cardinal (24-8), making their ninth straight NCAA appearance, camewithin a whisker of a first-round exit for the first time since 1992. ButStanford survived to play Saturday against Connecticut (22-9), which beat BYU58-53 earlier.

Josh Childress scored 22 points and Julius Barnes had 18 for Stanford, whichblew a 19-point first-half lead but rallied after San Diego (18-12) went ahead66-63 on a bank shot by Roy Morris with 3:42 to go.

Barnes hit two free throws and Rob Little scored underneath to put theCardinal up 69-66 with 1:34 remaining. After a San Diego timeout, Jason Blairmissed a 3-pointer and Lottich made a 3 at the other end with 49.7 seconds toplay.

Blair scored 27 points for San Diego but missed a 3-pointer that would havetied it at 69 near the 1-minute mark. Jason Keep, the 6-foot-10, 275-poundcenter who played on two NCAA tournament teams at Oklahoma State, scored 12 butstruggled with foul trouble throughout the second half.

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

Leading 35-32 at the break, the Cardinal re-established an inside game, withLittle scoring eight of Stanford's first 10 second-half points to build a 45-37lead. He finished with 12.

That couldn't stop the Toreros, a Spanish word for 'Bullfighters.' Theypatiently chipped at the margin, coming back despite having Keep on the benchin foul trouble for much of the second half.

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

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

Stanford opened with a 9-0 burst, and it was 14-2 when Lottich hit a3-pointer four minutes after tipoff. The Toreros regrouped, and Blair scored 11points as they used a 16-2 run to trim the deficit to 35-32 at halftime.

AP Sports Writer

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