Arizona 73, Stanford 68
LOS ANGELES (AP)—Even without their leading scorer, the Arizona Wildcats had enough to get by mistake-prone Stanford.
The Wildcats’ defense picked up the slack.
Ivan Radenovic had 21 points and seven rebounds, Mustafa Shakur added 18 points, seven rebounds and six assists, and the Wildcats held off the Cardinal 73-68 Thursday in the quarterfinals of the Pac-10 tournament.
Arizona, shooting for its 22nd straight NCAA tournament appearance, moved within one victory of its 19th consecutive 20-win season. The Wildcats can achieve that milestone Friday night against No. 13 UCLA, which advanced to the semifinals by beating Oregon State 79-47.
Meanwhile, Stanford’s school-record 11-year streak of NCAA tournament appearances almost surely will end with a 15-13 record.
Chris Rodgers added 12 points and five steals and Marcus Williams had 11 points despite a 3-for-16 shooting performance for the Wildcats, who forced Stanford to commit a season-high 23 turnovers.
“There’s no question that the thing that did it for us was our defense,” said Lute Olson, in his 23rd season as coach of the Wildcats. “That’s been our trademark all year long. Our guys believe that defense is a way to win games.
“It’s the best defensive team we’ve had, and I think that pressure on the ball forced a lot of those turnovers. We ended up with 16 more possessions as a result of the turnover margin.”
Arizona committed only seven turnovers, and made 24-of-30 free throws to 10-of-11 for Stanford. The fifth-seeded Cardinal shot 50 percent to the Wildcats’ 39 percent, and won the rebounding battle 36-27. But their turnovers did them in.
“You have to look at why those turnovers happened, and I choose to give credit to our opponent, as opposed to some of our deficiencies in terms of taking care of the ball,” Stanford coach Trent Johnson said. “For us to have 23 turnovers and 13 assists, and still be in a situation where we can win that game, we were doing something good in other facets.”
Arizona won without leading-scorer Hassan Adams, suspended for the Pac-10 tournament by Olson after being arrested on suspicion of drunken driving last weekend.
“I think it took a lot out of us emotionally, because he’s our emotional leader every day, just with his energy,” Shakur said regarding Adams. “He called everybody constantly throughout the week, trying to help us out as much as possible. But we really missed him a lot.”
Chris Hernandez scored all but five of his 20 points in the second half for Stanford. Matt Haryasz added 14 points and Peter Prowitt had 10 before fouling out with 3:26 remaining.
“It is really disappointing, especially for your senior year,” Haryasz said concerning the probable end of the Cardina’s NCAA tournament streak. “We didn’t win enough games, we didn’t get the job done.”
The Wildcats went ahead for good by scoring seven straight points to snap a 50-50 tie. Stanford battled back, and four straight points by Hernandez made it 59-58 with 3:57 left.
But that’s as close as the Cardinal would get. After a basket by Rodgers and two free throws by Shakur gave Arizona a 69-63 lead, Hernandez made a 3-pointer with 49 seconds to play.
Shakur’s foul shot made it 70-66, but Tim Morris scored with 31.8 seconds remaining to draw Stanford within two. Two foul shots by Rodgers and another by Radenovic completed the scoring as the Cardinal committed two turnovers following Morris’ follow dunk.
“We knew that our defensive pressure would force lots of turnovers, and at the end of the game we put lots of pressure on them,” Radenovic said. “That’s how those turnovers came.”
Rodgers scored five straight points to cap a 7-0 run that put Arizona ahead 46-40 before the Cardinal outscored the Wildcats 10-4 to tie the game one final time.
Stanford shot 4-of-5 to start the game for a 9-2 lead, matching the largest of the game for either team. The Wildcats responded by going on a 16-2 run, putting them ahead 18-11.
Dan Grunfeld’s basket midway through the first half ended a 7 1/2 -minute scoring drought, and triggered a 7-0 spurt that tied the game. Neither team led by more than three points during the remainder of the half, which ended with the Cardinal leading 32-31.
Both teams got help from seldom-used reserves in the opening 20 minutes— Prowitt scored eight points and Arizona’s Bret Brielmaier had six for a new career high.