This Stanford Title Is a Long Time Coming
The famously springy floor of Maples Pavilion pitched and rolled as if a temblor were rumbling across the Stanford campus Saturday night. But it was a far more rare event that set the Sixth Man Club to bouncing and dancing crazily at center court after a 98-83 victory over Arizona and sent most of the Stanford team onto the scorer’s table or into the crowd.
Stanford won the Pacific 10 championship for the first time and claimed a conference title for the first time in 36 years by taking a three-game lead with two games left.
The last conference championship was in 1963, when Stanford tied UCLA for the five-team Athletic Assn. of Western Universities title, and it was the first outright title since Stanford claimed the Pacific Coast Conference title during its national championship season of 1942.
Forget that Arizona had owned Stanford the last two seasons.
Not this time. Not on this night.
Arthur Lee wasn’t about to allow it. Neither was Kris Weems.
Lee, Weems, Tim Young, Pete Sauer and reserve Mark Seaton--the seniors who took Stanford to the Final Four last season--were playing their final game in Maples on Saturday, and they weren’t going out any other way than with Arizona in their dust and the Pac-10 title in their pockets.
Lee scored a career-high 29 points, and Weems scored 23, making six of 10 three-point shots, five of them in a 17-point first half in which Stanford took a 20-point lead before allowing it to dwindle to nine at halftime.
“That was a great performance,” Stanford Coach Mike Montgomery said. “Our perimeter guys were fabulous.
“To win outright, and truthfully to do it against the team that has been the dominant team in our conference, really meant a lot to us.”
With 10 three-pointers and a fast-paced attack that defied conventional wisdom, No. 6 Stanford (24-5, 14-2) ran all over No. 7 Arizona (20-6, 11-5).
Lee and Weems, not likely Pac-10 player of the year Jason Terry, were unstoppable.
“We had a revenge factor, because I felt personally we should have beaten Arizona in Tucson,” Weems said.
Terry, who made the winning shot in an 78-76 victory in Tucson, scored 21 points, but needed 29 shots to do it, making only seven shots, including three three-pointers.
“Everywhere I went, they were coming to double me, blocking up the lane,” Terry said. “Lee was hot, Weems was hot, and I was forcing up shots. I didn’t see an open look. I can’t do it all by myself, so I shouldn’t try.”
That was by Stanford’s design.
“We really put a priority on Jason Terry, who we felt like is the best guy in the conference and really hurt us over there,” Montgomery said. “Maybe we wore him down running guys at him.”
Freshman Michael Wright’s foul trouble also hurt Arizona--he played only six minutes and fouled out with more than nine minutes left--but Stanford didn’t look like a team that was going to be stopped, overcoming its own foul trouble with Young and Mark Madsen.
“It was a good old-fashioned thrashing, and it’s the reason Stanford has been the team to beat and still is the team to beat,” Arizona Coach Lute Olson said. “Congratulations to Mike and his players. They’ve played with tremendous effort all year long, and that’s why they’re in the position they’re in.
“I was not disappointed with our effort. It was just a case of a better, more experienced team. Obviously we’re happy we got them one time, but it was a mismatch as it turned out.”
Stanford officially earned the Pac-10’s automatic NCAA bid.
Maybe more important, Stanford not only went a long way toward remaining home in the West for the NCAA tournament, the Cardinal is probably back in the running for the No. 1 seeding in the West, though its rival might be the Connecticut team that handily beat Stanford at Maples earlier this month without star forward Richard Hamilton.
Stanford closes at Oregon and Oregon State, while Arizona finishes with USC and UCLA at home.
“Now we’d like to sustain this last two games, see what kind of seed we can get and head into the tournament with some confidence,” Montgomery said.
Arizona St. 6-10
UCLA 79, Washington 62
USC 83, Washington St. 62
California 78, Arizona St. 73
Stanford 98, Arizona 83
Oregon 73, Oregon St. 68
UCLA at Arizona State
USC at Arizona
Stanford at Oregon
California at Oregon State