Keefe Returns Home to Lead Stanford Past UC Irvine, 70-57

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Adam Keefe came home Monday, where he:

--Was honored by having his high school basketball uniform retired at Irvine's Woodbridge High.

--Was roasted by UC Irvine basketball fans--"Irvine wasn't good enough for you, huh?"

--Was horrible in the first half against Irvine.

--Was nearly unstoppable in the second, leading Stanford to a 70-57 nonconference victory in the Bren Center.

Keefe scored 20 points, 14 in the second half, and grabbing 11 rebounds to lead the Cardinal (2-0).

It was the second consecutive loss for Irvine, which led by 10 (22-12) midway through the first half, and by seven (24-17) with just over five minutes before halftime.

But Stanford closed the gap to four by halftime and tied the score, 41-41, on Keefe's layup with 14:25 to go in the game.

Once again Irvine, which blew an 11-point second-half lead against the University of San Francisco Saturday, went cold offensively, scoring just 12 points in the final 15 minutes.

"We're supposed to be a good shooting team," said Bill Mulligan, Irvine coach. "What happened to our shooting?"

The Anteaters shot just 38% from the field, only 32% in the second half.

Irvine made up for its shooting with a good job defensively against Stanford in the first half. Sagging toward the middle and paying special attention to Keefe, Irvine made it hard for Stanford to go inside. When Stanford did, it often ended in a turnover. Keefe alone turned the ball over six times.

"I didn't play well at all in the first half," Keefe said. "I think I was too worried about them blocking my shot. I was trying to make moves I didn't need to make."

Any fear seemed far removed in the second half. Keefe was aggressive inside, scoring 10 points in a 10-minute span.

"In the second half, Keefe took over the game," Mulligan said. "No question about it."

Adding to Irvine's problems was Stanford forward Deshon Wingate, who scored 19 points coming off the bench. Wingate, a smooth 6-7 junior, could start for Stanford but Coach Mike Montgomery says he likes "the lift he gives us coming off the bench."

Irvine provided some lift for Stanford. The Anteaters committed 16 turnovers, giving them 37 in their first two games.

And then there was the defense, or lack of it at crucial points in the second half. Twice Irvine players loafed in transition and were made to pay when Stanford converted baskets.

With little more than six minutes remaining, Stanford point guard John Patrick was allowed to dribble unchecked to the free-throw line, where he stopped--still unguarded--and made a 15-footer to put his team ahead, 55-50.

Less than a minute later, Patrick rebounded an Irvine shot, dribbled to half court and passed to an unguarded Wingate, who went in for a dunk to put the Cardinal ahead, 57-51.

"(Guard Rod) Palmer is the only guy on this team who plays hard all the time," Mulligan said. "We got seven or eight other guys pretending."

Palmer led Irvine with 18 points. Only one other Anteater, forward Jeff Herdman, scored in double figures. Herdman had 11. Palmer made four of eight three-point attempts, and the rest of the team was one of nine.

"What happened to our three-point shooting?" Mulligan said. "This game was ugly."

Montgomery agreed.

"I think it's safe to say that the videotape of this game will never make it to the hall of fame," he said.

Anteater Notes

Adam Keefe's coming home to Irvine was such big news that reporters walked away, en masse, from Stanford Coach Mike Montgomery during his postgame comments. "Why don't I just leave?" a miffed Montgomery said. Keefe apologized to his coach for the snub, and then answered questions for about 15 minutes. . . . A poster giving the five reasons Keefe chose to leave Irvine--and they were not nice ones--was taken home by Keefe's parents, who said they plan to take a picture of the banner and send copies to relatives. . . . Center Ricky Butler was held to nine points. . . . Freshman Ben Rishwain, a walk-on, was impressive as Mulligan searches for a backup point guard. Rishwain, who is 5-10, played 14 minutes, scored five points and had two assists.

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