Stanford remains unbeaten with victory over USC

Posted: Sunday, January 25, 2004

STANFORD, Calif. (AP) Chris Hernandez is used to hearing about Stanford's reputation for being nice guys who are soft. And he's growing sick of it.

Hernandez had 18 points, seven assists and five rebounds, and No. 2 Stanford stayed unbeaten by pulling away from Southern California for a 77-67 victory Saturday night.

''We have to show we're not going to get pushed around and try to change this attitude people have about us,'' said Hernandez, Stanford's hard-nosed sophomore point guard.

Nick Robinson matched his career high by scoring all 13 of his points in the second half as the Cardinal (16-0, 7-0 Pac-10) received their biggest test yet at home, where a sellout crowd of 7,391 rocked Maples Pavilion from the opening tip. Robinson was 6-for-6 in the second half.

Desmon Farmer had 19 points, three assists and three steals for USC (8-9, 3-5), which lost its third straight game and has won at Maples only twice since 1992. Farmer was held to six points in the second half a 3-pointer and three free throws.

Stanford ran into an inspired and physical Trojans team that was coming off a one-point loss at California on Thursday. USC played stingy man-to-man defense, rarely allowing the Cardinal to take an uncontested shot.

''We should have won this game,'' USC forward Nick Curtis said. ''We had them in the first half and we lost our composure in the second half. They got a lot of easy open shots we shouldn't have let them have. Their bench was crucial.''

Hernandez scored five straight points late in the game, including a 3-pointer that banked in just before the shot clock expired. Hernandez later joked that he's been working on those in practice.

Stanford is one of two undefeated Division I teams left in the country along with third-ranked Saint Joseph's, a 114-63 winner over St. Bonaventure on Saturday.

''I thought being down at the half didn't hurt us,'' coach Mike Montgomery said. ''Obviously, we're not pleased. Are you going to keep your poise and how are you going to react to being behind? Are you going to right yourself and make some plays? I think we did that. All that stuff I think is going to help you.

''It's not about being undefeated. We're trying in our conference to get some separation if we can. That's really our only goal right now,'' he said.

After Errick Craven gave USC a 47-46 lead with 10:51 left, Hernandez hit a 3-pointer to start a 10-1 Stanford run that gave the Cardinal a 56-48 lead with 8:47 remaining.

Trojans coach Henry Bibby, whistled for a technical in the first half, dropped to 5-12 against Stanford, though USC has beaten the Cardinal in the Pac-10 tournament the past two seasons.

''Forty-nine points (in the second half) is too much for us to give up and win a basketball game,'' Bibby said. ''We left Hernandez open a few times. We can't do that.''

Stanford's Josh Childress, a preseason All-America candidate, made his second start of the season following a foot injury that sidelined him for the first nine games. The 6-foot-8 forward had 11 points, seven rebounds, three assists, a block and a steal in 26 minutes.

Stanford made silly mistakes in a sloppy first half and trailed 34-28 at halftime just the second time this season the Cardinal have been behind at the break. Rice led 28-22 at halftime on Nov. 30, but Stanford won 60-56.

Matt Haryasz gave Stanford a big lift off the bench in the first half, making two straight jump shots with a defensive rebound in between. During another spurt, he had three blocked shots, a steal and hit the floor hard to control a loose ball. He finished with eight points and five rebounds.

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