March 13, 2004
By BETH HARRIS
AP Sports Writer
LOS ANGELES - Stanford got its momentum back against the team that took it away.
Matt Lottich had 20 points, six rebounds and five assists, and second-ranked Stanford defeated Washington 77-66 Saturday to win its first Pac-10 tournament title and a berth to the NCAA tournament for the 10th consecutive season.
"You got to love Matt Lottich," Stanford coach Mike Montgomery said. "He's got so much pride in himself and so much competitiveness. He made some huge shots, as always."
The Cardinal (29-1) are virtually assured of a top seed in the West Region when the pairings are announced Sunday, along with a trip to Seattle for their first game.
"You take a great deal of pride if we should happen to go into the NCAA tournament as a No. 1 seed," Montgomery said. "It also means zippo starting next week."
The Cardinal donned white caps proclaiming them champions while fans chanted "six more wins" - the number Stanford needs to win the national championship.
"We wanted to win it to prove we're the best team in the Pac-10," Lottich said.
A week ago, Washington spoiled Stanford's bid for a perfect season with a 75-62 victory in Seattle. The loss knocked the Cardinal from the No. 1 ranking, which they're likely to regain after previously unbeaten Saint Joseph's lost to Xavier by 20 points in the Atlantic-10 quarterfinals.
"We wanted to avenge our only loss of the season," said Josh Childress, the Pac-10 player of the year and tourney MVP. "I was fired up. I'm definitely glad we got to play them again."
The second-seeded Huskies (19-11) desperately wanted to win their first-ever conference tourney title to get into the NCAA tournament without contention. Now, their fate lies in the selection committee's hands. But their chances appear good since they've won 14 of their last 17 games.
"I'm confident we're going to be in," Huskies coach Lorenzo Romar said. "We've done everything to impress the committee, to show that we're worthy. Will we get in? We'll be sitting in front of that television waiting."
Washington outscored Stanford 9-6 to start the second half and get within three points after trailing by six at the break.
Then Stanford ran off eight unanswered points for a 59-48 lead. Jason Haas drove the lane, Joe Kirchofer and Lottich scored inside baskets and Kirchofer scored again for Stanford's largest lead of the game.
Lottich said his two-point, 1-of-11 shooting performance in the loss to Washington wasn't on his mind Saturday.
"It was just one of those nights where the ball was going down for me," he said. "Guys did a good job of rotating the ball to me."
Washington never got closer than five points after that. Stanford's size advantage inside, along with Lottich's perimeter shooting wore down the Huskies. The Cardinal controlled the boards 42-33 and held a 48-26 scoring edge in the paint.
"They don't make too many mistakes," Romar said. "In the second half, they really did a great job defending us. We hung around and hung around and just didn't have enough to get over the hump."
Childress added 14 points and nine rebounds. Justin Davis had 13 points and Kirchofer had 11 points and eight rebounds.
The quicker and more athletic Huskies forced a frenetic tempo in the first half. They made 12 of their first 17 shots before cooling to 40 percent shooting for the game. Stanford's bigger and deeper lineup did its best to keep pace even when the Cardinal trailed by six points about six minutes into the game.
Stanford took its first lead of the game on a 12-0 run capped by Lottich's 3-pointer that made it 38-31 with 3:14 remaining. Davis scored five points in the spurt, while Washington committed four turnovers. The Huskies outscored Stanford 8-7 to end the half trailing 45-39.