Cardinal Season Comes to an End, Losses to Connecticut in National Semi-Finals

Photo Credit: USA Today Sports
Photo Credit: USA Today Sports

By: Joe Lami

The Stanford Cardinal played their final game of the 2013-2014 season on Sunday night after they were defeated by Connecticut 75-56 in Nashville.  The Cardinal were seeking their third National Championship in school history and their first one since 1992, however they fell short in their sixth trip to the final four in the past seven years.  Sunday also marks the third time in four years that the Cardinal have fallen in the National Semi-Final.

The Cardinal controlled much of the first half.  The Huskies got on the board first with buckets from Bria Hartley and Moriah Jefferson to go up 4-0.  Chiney Ogwumike got on the board first for the Cardinal with a jumper of her own.  Connecticut would get the lead back up to four, until Stanford went on a 7-0 run to give them their first lead of the evening with 16:09 remaining in the half.  The Cardinal held the lead for 12 minutes until Stephanie Dolson tied it up at 22 with four minutes remaining.  The 12 minutes marked the longest stretch of time this season that Connecticut had trailed.  Stanford pushed their largest lead to six, marking the second highest lead a team had on Connecticut all season.  The Huskies continued their run, extending it to 14-0 before Stanford was able to answer with a bucket of their own.  UConn went into the half with a 28-24 lead.

Stanford fell apart in the second half, as Connecticut started the second half with a 5:46 16-3 run.  The three points came from a rare three-pointer from Ogwumike.  The run would be give enough of a lead for UConn to ride out the win.  The Cardinal wouldn’t be able to fight their way back.

Amber Orrange led the way for the Cardinal with 16 points, she also added five assists in the losing effort.  Ogwumike wrapped up her Stanford career with her 25th double double of the season, as the expected 1st overall pick in the upcoming WNBA Draft finished the game with 15 points and ten rebounds.  Lili Thompson wrapped up the double figure Cardinal scorers with 12 points, eight of which came in the first half.

The Huskies saw all five of their starters get into double figures.  Player of the Year nominee, Brianna Stewart led the way with 18 points.  Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis contributed 15 points, all of which came in the second half.  Hartley shot four of 12 from the field to finish with 14 points.  Both Jefferson and Dolson finished the game with ten points each to cap off the double digits scorers.  Kiah Stokes also came off of the bench to add nine points in 22 minutes played, as the Huskies used only six players in 39-minutes of the game.  In the last minute, substitutes Saniya Chong, Tierney Lawlor, Briana Pulido and Brianna Banks replaced the starting five.

Connecticut remains undefeated at 39-0 and advance to their school’s ninth National Championship.  Next up for the Huskies is another undefeated team in Notre Dame (37-0), who beat Maryland 81-67 in the other National Semi-Final game.  Tuesday will mark the first time ever, where two undefeated teams will battle it out for the National Title.  Connecticut also joins their men’s team in the National Championship, as the men’s team will be going up against Kentucky for the men’s title.  Both Connecticut team’s won the title in 2004, and have a chance to do it again just ten years later.  They remain the only school to accomplish the feat.

Stanford finishes their season with a record of 30-4 and some uncertainty in next season, as it will be the first one since 2008 where an Ogwumike will not be on the team.

 

Cardinal Keep Dancing, Advance to Regional Final with Win Over Penn State

Photo Credit: gostanford.com
Photo Credit: gostanford.com

By: Joe Lami

STANFORD, Calif.–The Stanford Cardinal returned to Maples Pavilion, a regional host site for this year’s NCAA Tournament, on Sunday where they took on the Penn State Lady Lions in the regional semi-final.  The Cardinal defeated the Lady Lions by the final score of 82-57.

The first half was neck and neck until about half way through.  The Lady Lions went on a 7-0 run to get ahead of the Cardinal 23-19.  The Cardinal were able to comeback with a 14-0 run of their own spanning a 5:12.  The run would end when Ariel Edwards would hit a pair of free throws.  Stanford would get five more points until the Lady Lions would be able to hit a field goal, as Edwards would nail a jumper with 2:47 remaining in the first half.  Penn State was unable to hit a field goal for 6:48 which gave Stanford a big advantage, as their lead would be 38-27.  The scoring drought would begin again until Edwards would be able to get a bucket and a foul with 13 seconds remaining in the half.  Stanford went into the halftime break with a 44-30 lead.

After much control of the first half, the second half went fairly easy for the Cardinal, as then only surrendered 27 points to cruise to victory.  The final minutes for the Cardinal allowed players that wouldn’t normally see minutes in the NCAA Tournament, as Briana Roberson, Jasmine Camp, Erica Payne and Erica McCall were able to jump in the game.

“Today was an ideal day for Stanford basketball” praised Chiney Ogwumike after the game.

Ogwumike led the way for the Cardinal once again, as she finished with 29 points.  She also added 15 rebounds to get her 25th double double of the season, and ups her career total to 83.  Amber Orrange was second in scoring for Stanford with 18 points.  Lili Thompson and Mikaela Ruef both finished the game with 11 points.  Ruef also added 13 rebounds to achieve the double double.

Edwards led the way for the Lady Lions, as she finished with 22 points.  Dara Taylor and Talia East were the other Penn St. players to get into double figures, contributing 11 and ten respectively.

The major factor in the Stanford win was allowing Maggie Lucas to only score six points.  Lucas, the Big Ten player of the year, was averaging 21.5 points per game coming into the contest.  This was only the second time this season where Lucas was held under ten points.  The last time occurred when the Lady Lions lost to Notre Dame at home on December 4.  Thompson was assigned to defend against Lucas, and she was a major factor.  “She was forced to take tough shots all night” claimed Penn State Head Coach, Coquese Washington.  Thompson later added that the key to shutting Lucas down was to limit her touches.

The Cardinal will continue their run on Tuesday with hopes of advancing to the Final Four, as they will take on North Carolina, who defeated South Carolina 65-58 in the other regional semi-final.

Sweet Sixteen Bound Cardinal Punches Ticket to Regionals With Win Over Florida State

By: Joe Lami

The Stanford Cardinal will be returning to Maples Pavilion next weekend as they will be continue on to the Sweet Sixteen, after a victory over the Florida State Seminoles on Monday afternoon.  The second-seeded Cardinal defeated the tenth-seeded Seminoles 63-44 in the second round of the NCAA tournament.

The Seminoles grabbed an early seven-point lead, as they went on a 7-0 run to start the game in the first 1:52.  It wasn’t until the 18:08 mark where Amber Orrange was able to get things started for Stanford with a field goal.  The largest lead for Florida State was stretched to eight points at the 12:31 mark, when the Seminoles had the 14-6 lead.  However, this is when the Cardinal were able to turn the game around, as Stanford went on a 26-2 run, including a 13-minute scoring drought for Florida State to end the half.  Stanford went into halftime with a 32-16 lead.

Stanford would also control the second half as well, outscoring the Seminoles by three points to complete the victory.

All-time Pac-12 leading scorer, Chiney Ogwumike, led things for the Cardinal as she finished the game 8 of 11 from the field for 21 points.  She ended the game just one rebound shy of the double double.  Lili Thompson had another outstanding performance, as she contributed 14 points in the win, including a perfect 4 for 4 from the charity strike.  Bonnie Samuelson completed the list of players that got into double figures, as she came off the bench to score 11, with nine points coming from beyond the arc.

Florida State was able to achieve something that few teams have been able to do against Stanford this season, and that is to out-rebound the Cardinal.  The Seminoles won the rebound battle  35-32 with 12 of them coming on the offensive side of the glass.  Natasha Howard, Brittany Brown and Kai James all finished the game with seven rebounds for FSU.  Howard was also the Noles leading scorer, as she finished the game with nine points.

The Cardinal will be returning to the Sweet Sixteen for the seventh time in a row, and now they will be coming back to their home floor for possibly the next two games.  Up next for the Cardinal will be the winner of Penn State and Florida, before what is expected to be an Elite Eight matchup with the number one seed in the region, South Carolina.

One Down, Five to Go, Stanford Defeats South Dakota in the Opening Round of the NCAA Tournament

By: Joe Lami

The Stanford Cardinal started what they are hoping to be a long NCAA Tournament run on Saturday afternoon with a win.  They defeated the South Dakota Coyotes by the final score of 81-62.  The Cardinal were given a number two seed after they were defeated by USC in the semi-finals of the Pac-12 tournament.  Their opponent, South Dakota, earned the 15-seed after they won the Summit Conference Tournament.  The Coyotes also had a record of 19-14 coming into the contest.

South Dakota held the game close for the first seven minutes of the game, and actually held a two point lead at the 17:56 mark, but at the 13-minute the Cardinal gained the lead and they kept it for the rest of the game.  The Cardinal led the game 42-27 going into the halftime break.  They then outscored the Coyotes 39-35 in the second half to earn the 81-62 victory.

It was a huge day for Senior star Chiney Ogwumike, as she became the all-time Pac-12 leading scorer in the contest.  She only need one-point to gain the feat, as she finished the last contest tied with Candice Wiggins.  Ogwumike finished the game with 22 points, and eight rebounds in the 35 minutes played.  She led all scorers in the effort.

Bonnie Samuelson came off of the bench to tie her career high, as the Junior Guard sunk six of ten shots from beyond the arc to net 18 points.  Lili Thompson scored 11 points and brought down six rebounds in her first NCAA Tournament contest.  She also went 50% from three-point land, as she went three of six from beyond the arc.  Amber Orrange was the other Stanford player to get into double digits in scoring, as she finished the game with ten points.

South Dakota had a bright spot in the loss, as Nicole Seekamp finished the game with 22 points, shooting 9 of 13 from the field.  She also finished the game with five rebounds.

Stanford only has one more team in front of them before they can return to their home court, Maples Pavilion, as part of Regionals.  The tenth seed Florida State Seminoles will be the Cardinal’s next opponent, as they defeated Iowa State on their home floor earlier Saturday 55-44.  The Round of 32 contest is set for Monday at 3:30 PST.

Trojans Upset Cardinal on Ogwumike’s Record Setting Night

By Joe Lami

For the first time ever the Stanford Cardinal will not be going to the Pac-12 Tournament championship game, as the USC Trojans defeated the Cardinal 72-68 in the semi-finals on Saturday night.  Stanford the number one seed and the favorite to win the Pac-12 Championship, is now unsure of how their NCAA Tournament is going to look.  If the Cardinal came out of the Pac-12 Tournament unscathed, they would have received an almost sure bid to a number one seed in their host west region.

The first half ended with the score tied at 32.  Stanford dominated the paint in the first half, with 18 points.  However, the Trojans led the first with points off of turnovers, bench points and 2nd chance points.

Coming out of the half, the Trojans jumped on the Cardinal early, going on a 14-4 run in the first 5:30.  Stanford would be able to crawl back slowly, and would eventually take the lead back with 6:46 remaining.  The Cardinal would push the lead to three, at 60-57 with 5:06 to go and be able to hold it for a couple of minutes.  However, the Trojans would once again march back, much in part to Cassie Harberts’ ten straight points.  This would get the USC lead to as high as seven before the Cardinal would find another bucket with 61 seconds to go.

The Cardinal pressed in the final minute to get the deficit as low as two, but the Trojans would be good enough at the foul line to be able to ice the game away and advance to the Pac-12 Championship game, where they will face the Oregon State Beavers.

Chiney Ogwumike led the way for the Cardinal with 30 points and 21 rebounds.  The 30 points ties her with Stanford Alum, Candice Wiggins as the all-time Pac-12 scorer with 2,629.  Unfortunately for Ogwumike, she scored career point 2,629 with over seven minutes remaining in the game, and couldn’t find another to break the record in game where every point mattered.

Stanford had an awful day from the field, finishing the game at just 32%.  Lili Thompson finished with 13 points, going 4 of 11 shooting.  Amber Orrange was the only other double digit scorer for the Cardinal, as she finished the night with 11 points and 3 of 11 shooting.  Mikaela Ruef was held scoreless for the first time in recent memory, as the fifth year senior went 0 for 8 from the field, but she did bring down five rebounds.  Taylor Greenfield was the only Stanford player to come off of the bench and contribute points, as she finished the game with five.

The Trojans didn’t shoot that much better, as they finished the game shooting just 39%.  USC also saw three different players get into double digits.  Alexyz Vaioletama led the way with 19 points.  She also contributed 15 rebounds, with five of them coming on the offensive side of the glass.  Guard, Ariya Cook, finished the game with 15 points.  Game MVP, Cassie Harberts only had 13 points, but ten of them came at the most opportune time, as she scored ten straight with under three minutes to go to give the Trojan’s a lead good enough to win the game.

The win for the Trojans gets them that much closer into the NCAA tournament, as ESPN’s Charlie Creme has the ladies of USC on his first four teams out of the tournament.  However, with this win it might just be enough to break the bubble and earn a bid.  That is if they don’t receive the automatic bid on Sunday afternoon by winning the Pac-12 Tournament.  Oregon State, their opponent on Sunday is looked at as already in the NCAA Tournament according to Creme.

Number four-ranked Stanford has their record drop to 29-3, and now they are a little unsure on how they will be entering the NCAA Tournament.  Some questions arise, is Stanford still a number one seed?  Does Stanford still deserve to be in the west region, their host region?  Only time will tell what the selection committee decides, but for now we sit back and prepare for another great day of Championship basketball on Sunday.

Stanford Snaps Losing Skid in Dramatic Fashion Over Utah, Ends Pac-12 Play on High Note

DSC_0004By Matthew Harrington

STANFORD, Calif. – With the overflowing talent on display on a nightly basis in the Pac-12, it’s only fitting that it took Stanford literally until the last tenths of a second of conference play to better understand its Pac-12 tournament placement. While the conference tourney picture got a little clearer, it’s still about as blurry as a Monet masterpiece from ten feet out. As for the Cardinal odds for making its first NCAA tournament appearance under coach Johnny Dawkins in six seasons, those are as crystal clear as the scrambled channels on the higher ends of your TV guide.

With a 61-60 win over visiting Utah (20-10, 9-9 Pac-12) Saturday afternoon at Maples Pavilion, the Stanford Cardinal broke a tie in the standings with their guests in a game with must-win implications. Also entering play with an identical 9-8 conference record were Oregon and Cal, a four-way tie for fifth in the Pac-12 standings. With Arizona State and Colorado boasting 10-7 entering Saturday, the Cardinal (19-11, 10-8 Pac-12) could secure a first-round bye in Las Vegas if Colorado, Oregon and Oregon State come away with wins in their regular-season finales. They could finish as high as tied for third, or as low as fifth depending on the rest of the weekend’s action.

“I know it’s important to finish at over .500 in conference,” said Dawkins after the game. “We’re in one of the best conferences in America. To finish over .500 should give you an opportunity to see what happens. That’s out of our hands. We just need to keep winning games.”

Stanford opened the morning with a heartfelt pregame ceremony honoring the senior stalwarts, players like all-time Cardinal blocks leader Josh Huestis and Dwight Powell, but after 40 minutes of basketball it was a junior, Chasson Randle, being lauded for his play while weathering the maelstrom of emotion.

“It’s a little emotional because of what the game meant and also because it’s Senior Day,” said Dawkins. “There’s a lot of family here. Senior Day is always interesting because of all the emotion. Our guys remained focus, stepped up and helped, the Chasson Randles, the Marcus Allens. I thought those guys really stepped up and helped the seniors.”

After an eye-popping 24-point night Wednesday in a loss to Colorado, Randle dropped 22 points over 39 minutes of play against the Utes, snapping Stanford’s season-high three-game losing streak to wrap up the last home game of the regular season.

“Chasson’s played terrific for us,” said Dawkins. “He’s doing everything for us. He scores. He makes guys better on our team based on how he goes out there and approaches it. I love coaching him. I’m proud of him because of the bounce back he had from last year. It says a lot about him, about his character, about who he is.

NBA draft hopeful Dwight Powell found himself in foul trouble for the second-straight game in a row, playing only 26 minutes Saturday after the forward saw action in only 24 Wednesday. He managed seven points on 3-of-8 shooting to accompany five rebounds. Stefan Nastic owned the paint in his absence, going 6-for-6 from the field to finish with 14 points. Guard Brandon Taylor led the Runnin’ Utes charge with 14 points, while fellow guard Delon Wright and center Dallin Bachynski notched 12 and 10 respectively.

Despite hitting over 55.6 percent of shots in the first half, Utah found itself trailing the Cardinal 33-25. Stanford made 14 shots on 31 attempts, only four fewer makes than Utah’s 18 attempts in the first. The Cardinal never trailed over the first 20 minutes of play, scoring on a Powell jumper 34 seconds in to take the 2-0 lead. Stanford outscored the Utes 27-16 over the first 14-plus minutes of play for the largest lead of the afternoon, but Utah finished the half with a 9-6 run to head into intermission trailing 33-25.

The Utes opened the second half with back-to-back field goals, including a Jordan Loveridge three, to cut the Cardinal lead to 33-30 just 1:05 in. It would be over ten minutes before either side made consecutive attempts from the floor after going nearly shot-for-shot when Nastic and Randle finally dropped consecutive jumpers to bolster Stanford’s edge 52-43. Nastic then took a Randle feed to the rim for a 11-point gap with 7:51 left in regulation.

“It was frustrating,” said Nastic. “We knew we had to come out with a higher energy level but for whatever reason, there were plays were weren’t making that the other team was making. It was very frustrating but we’ve been through a lot this season sticking together. We really tried to seize the opportunity at hand.”

Persistent Utah refused to yield with Wright and Taylor hitting shots from beyond the arc then Jeremy Olsen laid one up to cut the deficit to three points for the second time in the half. Randle made a pair from the stripe after Bachynski fouled the guard, but Olsen hit a jumper with 4:34 left in the half to make it 56-53. Nastic would hit one of two shots after Olsen fouled him on the floor with Stanford in the Bonus but Taylor ’s shot from downtown at the other end put Utah within one, the closest Utah disadvantage up to that point. Bachynski then hammered home the Utes first lead of the day, 58-56, with a heavy dunk after an offensive board 2:40 from a win.

Huestis responded at the other end with a three to put the Cardinal up by two with 180 seconds remaining before Bachynski hit a pair of free throws to knot the game at 60 just 55 seconds from the final buzzer. Powell drew a foul with 36 seconds remaining and hit one of two freebies, the eventual game-winner, for a 61-60 edge. In total, Stanford hit only four of ten free throws over the closing five minutes.

“Utah is a very good basketball team,” said Dawkins. “They’ve been on the road, they’ve won six out of their last eight games. We knew it was going to be a tough game, we knew it was going to come down to the wire. Defensively, we got the stops that we needed. It offset some of the free throws we missed. Our guys didn’t hang their heads.”

With the shot and game clock down to one second, Brandon Taylor turned the ball over on a traveling call, seemingly icing the game for Stanford. Powell couldn’t find a way to inbound the ball, turning it over with .8 seconds of play, breathing new life into the Utes comeback bid. They would fail to get the ball back in play for a desperation heave, firing the inbound pass into two Stanford players’ grasp as time expired.

Dawkins predicted this game would be close, but even he had no clue how slim the margin of victory would be when he gathered his team at center court Friday to address some of his players for the last time on Stanford’s home floor.

“We stood at center court yesterday with the seniors,” said Dawkins. “I said ‘You know what, the game is about finding a way, finding a way to win, whatever it takes. All through your lives, you guys have worked hard. You worked hard to get into Stanford academically. You worked hard to play at this level in the Pac-12. It feels good because you were able to do something hard. The things you appreciate most as a player, as a coach, as a human being are the things where you had to fight and to struggle to make something work.’ It’s only fitting to win that way tonight.”

For now, Stanford will be scoreboard-watching as it waits to see who will try their luck against in the Cardinal in Las Vegas this Wednesday, or potentially Thursday if the cards fall just right for a first-round Stanford bye. With eyes on an uncertain bid for March Madness, Dawkins’ squad will look to leave the desert the big winners in the bracketology jackpot. Count Coach among the rare few not looking at the big board with bated breath.

Quipped Dawkins, “I may be the only person in the world, but I promise you, I’m not paying attention to it”.

Stanford Can’t Rebuff Buffaloes, Fails to Seperate from Herd in Pac-12 Standings

DSC_0018 By Matthew Harrington

STANFORD, Calif. – That beeping sound you hear on Campus Drive isn’t the sign of construction and work trucks on Leland Stanford’s old stomping grounds; it’s the sound of the Stanford Cardinal backing into the Pac-12 and, possibly, NCAA tournament.

With a disappointing 59-56 loss to Colorado Wednesday night at Maples Pavilion on a missed game-tying shot at the buzzer, the Cardinal (18-11, 9-8 Pac-12) has now dropped three-straight games for the first time this season. The slump comes at an inopportune time as the season draws to its close and the selection committee reviews Stanford’s tournament credentials as a bubble team with an eagle-eye.

A tournament berth of in the air, Stanford entered play looking to avoid its first three-game losing streak all season after losses to Arizona State and Arizona last week. They ultimately couldn’t right the ship against Colorado (21-9, 10-7), finding themselves in foul trouble throughout Wednesday’s contest. Chasson Randle and Stefan Nastic finished the night with four infractions, while Dwight Powell finished the game watching from the bench with five personal fouls. Colorado made 17 free throws on 25 attempts, the same number of makes as Stanford had attempts.

“That’s very frustrating,” said Stanford head coach Johnny Dawkins. “They shot more free throws than we did. We’re a team that usually gets to the line quite a bit. Unfortunately we didn’t get to the line as much tonight. They converted on a number of them. They made 17, we shot 17. That’s difficult in a three-point ballgame.”

Randle, despite the foul concerns, continued his strong down the stretch by sinking 9 from the field on 18 attempts, including 4-of-7 from beyond the arc for a game-high 24 points over 34 minutes. Josh Huestis came a point away from a double-double after pulling down a Stanford-leading 13 rebounds, two more than Josh Scott, Colorado’s top rebounder on the night. Scott also lead the Buffaloes with 17 points. Colorado won the battle of the boards 39 to 31.

“We’ve been out-rebounded the last couple games,” said Dawkins. “With our size and our front line that’s very disappointing. We challenge our guys. We have to do a much better job of rebounding the basketball.”

The two teams traded baskets and blows like prize fighters throughout the first, with neither side snatching a two-possession lead until Colorado’s Ben Mills hit a layup with 5:34 left in the half for a 22-17 edge. Stanford cut the lead to one with baskets from Powell and Randle but the Buffs outscored Stanford 11-7 over the final five minutes before the intermission.

“We were getting open looks,” reflected a dejected Randle on the Cardinal first-half. “We just needed someone to knock them down.”
The Stanford struggles in the first stemmed from poor shooting, as the Cardinal converted only 31 percent of its shots, including 1-for-9 from three-point range. Despite the shooting woes and Powell finding himself on the bench late in the period nursing three fouls, Stanford found itself fortunate to only be facing a five-point deficit at the half thanks to stout defensive work forcing seven Colorado turnovers.

On the poor shooting, Dawkins pointed at the defense first. “Overall, our defense needs to make sure if we’re not making shots, we need to make sure the other team’s not making them either.”

The Cardinal came back strong in the second half, holding the visitors to only 13 points while grabbing 17 of  its own over the first 11-plus minutes to cut it to a 46-45 Colorado advantage.

“Guys stepped it up in the second half defensively,” said Randle. “We did a really good job of bringing our effort and intensity, especially that second group that came in. We need more of that.”

The comeback was completed after a thunderous Stefan Nastic block on Xavier Johnson led to a Huestis bid for the lead at the other end. Huestis missed the shot, but Johnson fouled the forward on the attempt. Huestis hit one of two from the line to pull Stanford even 46-46 with 7:49 to go in the game. Johnson, who finished with 14 points, restored the Buffaloes lead on a jumper from the top of the key.

Red-hot Randle handed the home team its first lead of the half, 49-48, connecting on a trey, 3 of his 17 second-half points, with 4:50 remaining.

“We need more guys stepping up,” said Dawkins. “Chasson, offensively, has really stepped up and done what he has to do. We need more guys. It can’t just be one guy playing offensively. Our offense is built around a balanced attack so we need guys to step up and make plays.”

Colorado regained the lead and created some breathing room on three consecutive field goals, punctuated by a Xavier Talton trey to make it 55-51 with 130 ticks left on the game clock. Dwight Powell was then forced to the bench with his fifth foul on am offensive violation with just over two minutes to play. Powell watched as Randle pulled Stanford within two, his jumper finding the basket despite contact from Talton. Randle would convert the and-one play to make it a 55-54 Buffs lead with 1:12 left in the period. The Cardinal stifled Colorado with a shot clock violation with 45 seconds remaining but failed to take advantage. Colorado them hit four of six from the charity stripe down the stretch, setting up a Stanford a tying bid at 59 points aside. Randle’s three-pointer, potentially tipped on the way to the basket, fell just short of the rim as time expired.

The loss muddies up both the Pac-12 play-off picture and Stanford’s standing as a Big Dance bubble team (the Cardinal entered play in the no. 42 slot in RPI, a criteria used to determine the NCAA tournament field), what could be Stanford’s first appearance in six seasons under Dawkins. Of more concern on the Farm is where Stanford stands in the Pac-12 rankings. Stanford and Colorado entered play with identical 9-7 conference records, tied with Cal for fourth in the standings and a chance for a first-round conference tournament bye. Cal takes on Utah at home Wednesday night.

“I don’t keep up with that stuff at all,” said Dawkins when asked if he thought the loss hurt his team’s tournament standing. “We’re in a great conference. It’s so thick in our conference with competitive teams. Who knows what’s going to happen.”

Stanford continues its unusual stretch of facing unfamiliar conference foes late in conference play when Utah comes to Maples Saturday afternoon for an 11:30 am tip. The Cardinal will look to wrap up Pac-12 by avoiding a four-game losing skid on Senior Day before heading to Sin City for the conference tournament.

“That loss was very disappointing, coming home and having the crowd here,” said Randle. “It’s disappointing having a chance to get a first round bye. We have the opportunity Saturday, and we’re looking forward to that.”