Alabama shocks top-seeded Stanford

Posted: Sunday, March 21, 2004

SEATTLE Josh Childress watched from the end of the bench as Stanford's latest comeback attempt came up just short, bouncing off the rim.

This time, there was no fantastic finish for the Cardinal.

Dan Grunfeld missed a 3-pointer from the right wing at the horn and Stanford became the first No. 1 seed to exit the NCAA tournament on Saturday, upset by Alabama 70-67.

''We're extremely disappointed,'' coach Mike Montgomery said, looking stunned in the interview room. ''It's hard to figure out what to say. We just never could seem to get on track.''

Kennedy Winston scored 21 points and eighth-seeded Alabama (19-13) shot 10-of-14 from the free throw line in the final minute.

''People think by our record that we're not a very good team,'' said Tide point guard Antoine Pettway, who scored 12 points. ''But we just beat Stanford.''

The Crimson Tide shot 34-of-44 from the foul line, riding the free throws to the round of 16 for the first time since 1991. Alabama heads to Phoenix next week to face Syracuse.

''We always felt we could beat anybody. Now we really know it,'' said Alabama's Chuck Davis, who scored 12. ''They were the No. 1 team in the country, and it gives us a lot of confidence going to Phoenix.''

Childress, the Pac-10 player of the year, scored 12 points but he fouled out with 3:16 to play and had to watch the final minutes.

''I never felt like it slipped away,'' Childress said. ''They hit their free throws, which was unfortunate for us, but I don't ever feel like it slipped away.''

Sorry, but this time it did.

Matt Lottich hit a 3-pointer with 7.2 seconds remaining to pull the Cardinal to 70-67 and Alabama's Earnest Shelton missed two free throws at the other end to give Stanford (30-2) a final chance.

Twice earlier this season, Stanford stayed unbeaten with wild shots at the buzzer, including one over Arizona that brought alum Tiger Woods running onto the court at Maples Pavillion.

Lottich made a desperation 3-pointer to salvage a win at Washington State on March 4, and he hit another against the Tide with 23.6 seconds on the clock to pull Stanford to 67-62.

On the Alabama bench, coach Mark Gottfried thought for a moment he might see Stanford do it again.

''I'm sitting there with 15 seconds to go, thinking, 'Are you kidding me?' Gottfried recalled. ''But I wasn't going to bring that up with my players because we needed to concentrate on what we have done, not what they have done.''

It appeared the Cardinal wouldn't need a last-second shot to beat Alabama after taking a 53-40 lead with 7:40 left. But the Crimson Tide rallied with a 16-0 run.

''Even when we were down 11, I knew we were going to win,'' Davis said. ''I never felt like we were out of it.''

It was a spectacular turnaround. Alabama was listless through the first 10 minutes of the second half, missing 16 of its first 17 field goal attempts after the break.

''We knew it was nothing they were doing to make us miss wide-open shots,'' Davis said. ''Things started falling, and we took it home from there.''

Alabama's players raced onto the court to celebrate, with Davis falling to the floor and then hugging Big Al, the Tide mascot. Pettway mugged for the first television camera he came across.

Stanford players filed past, shaking hands before retreating quietly to the locker room.

The second round has been rough on Stanford recently, with the Cardinal losing at this point for the fifth time in the last six years.

''You guys look at the past too much,'' Childress said. ''We're talking about this year, our 30-2 season.''

Seattle has been tough on Stanford, too.

The season ended two weeks to the day after the Cardinal's only regular-season setback, a 75-62 defeat at Washington just a few miles from the site of this stunner.

''The relevance of the past, the relevance of us being in Seattle, the relevance of the last game all that had nothing to do with this game,'' Montgomery insisted.

Maybe, but that didn't help backup center Matt Haryasz as he choked back tears during a postgame radio interview. It didn't ease the pain in the Stanford locker room.

''I'm just sick of getting to this point and saying, 'We're going to do it next year,''' point guard Chris Hernandez said. ''It's to the point where you have to put it out on the floor and get it done.''

Stanford was a No. 1 seed in 2000, losing to No. 8 North Carolina. Earlier in the day in Seattle, Nevada stunned No. 2 Gonzaga.

Childress' last two fouls came seconds apart.

''It was boom, boom, and he was out,'' Montgomery said.

Childress banked in an 8-footer but it was waved off after he was called for an offensive foul. Seconds later he was whistled for a hold at the other end, and Tide fans were on their feet cheering.

''We got back on our heels and they took control,'' Lottich said.

Stanford led 51-39 after Childress hit a jumper with 11:20 remaining.

Syracuse 72, Maryland 70

DENVER Peter Warrick had 26 points and nine rebounds, and Syracuse nearly blew a 16-point lead before hanging on to beat Maryland in a matchup between the last two NCAA champions.

The game was the third between the two previous champions in NCAA tournament history, and the first since 1994 champ Arkansas beat 1993 winner North Carolina in the 1995 semifinals.

Gerry McNamara added 13 points for Syracuse (23-7). Travis Garrison and Jamar Smith led Maryland (20-12) with 16 points apiece.

Connecticut 72, DePaul 55

BUFFALO, N.Y. Ben Gordon scored 18 points, and Emeka Okafor had 10 points and 12 rebounds to lead Connecticut.

Second-seeded Connecticut (29-6) advanced to the round of 16 for the 10th time in Jim Calhoun's 18 years as coach. The Huskies will play the Vanderbilt-North Carolina State winner Thursday at America West Arena in Phoenix.

Calhoun and DePaul coach Dave Leitao are like father and son, making the matchup difficult. Making matters worse, Calhoun left the bench in the second half with an upset stomach and did not return until the final minutes. He hugged Leitao after the game.

Drake Diener led DePaul (22-10) with 15 points.

St. Louis Regional

Nevada 91, Gonzaga 72

SEATTLE Kevinn Pinkney scored 20 points, and Todd Okeson had 19 to help Nevada upset second-seeded Gonzaga.

The Wolf Pack (25-8) advanced to a Friday game against the Boston College-Georgia Tech winner.

Cory Violette led Gonzaga (28-3) with 16 points and 11 rebounds. The loss snapped a school-record 21-game winning streak for Gonzaga, which had lost only to No. 1 seeds Stanford and Saint Joseph's this season.

Atlanta Regional

Duke 90, Seton Hall 62

RALEIGH, N.C. J.J. Redick snapped out of a shooting slump, scoring 21 points to lead top-seeded Duke (29-5).

Mike Krzyzewski's Blue Devils, seeking their fourth national title, will face the winner of a game Sunday between Illinois and Cincinnati on Friday at the Georgia Dome.

Kelly Whitney and John Allen led Seton Hall (21-10) with 14 points each.

Texas 78, North Carolina 75

DENVER Royal Ivey had 17 points to help Texas advance to the second week for the third straight year.

Third-seeded Texas (25-7) advanced to play the Xavier-Mississippi State winner on Friday at the Georgia Dome.

North Carolina (20-10) held Brandon Mouton to 12 points on 4-of-12 shooting, but couldn't contain the rest of the Longhorns particularly inside. Rashad McCants had 27 points and Jawad Williams 17 for the Tar Heels.

East Rutherford Regional

Saint Joseph's 70, Texas Tech 65

BUFFALO, N.Y. Delonte West scored 13 of his 15 points in the first half, and Jameer Nelson had 14 of his 24 in the second for top-seeded Saint Joseph's.

The Hawks (29-1) will meet fourth-seeded Wake Forest on Thursday at Continental Airlines Arena.

Andre Emmett led Texas Tech (23-11) with 18 points.

Wake Forest 84, Manhattan 80

RALEIGH, N.C. Chris Paul had 29 points, eight rebounds and six assists to help Wake Forest advance to the second weekend for the first time in eight years.

Paul was 10-for-14 from the floor and 8-for-9 from the line for the Demon Deacons (21-9). Luis Flores had 20 points for the 12th-seeded Jaspers (25-6).

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