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M. Basketball: Stanford closes out home slate with win over Seattle

Despite one of its sloppiest performances of the season, the Stanford men’s basketball team ended its home season with a 77-66 win over Seattle University Tuesday night at Maples Pavilion.

The Cardinal (15-14, 7-10 Pac-10) struggled early in the rare March non-conference game thanks to some of the worst point guard play it has had all season. Junior Jarrett Mann, freshman Aaron Bright and sophomore Gabriel Harris were all used at the point guard position in the first half, and the trio combined for nine of Stanford’s 13 first-half turnovers while going scoreless.

Aaron Bright (above) and the other Stanford point guards struggled against Seattle's pressure defense (KYLE ANDERSON/The Stanford Daily).

Those 13 turnovers were enough to offset Stanford’s significant advantage in shooting, as the Cardinal shot 50 percent from the field in the first half while the Redhawks (11-18) shot 28.9 percent. However, Stanford went into the break with only a one-point lead. Seattle’s quick perimeter pressure combined with poor decisions by Cardinal guards led to plenty of empty possessions for Stanford, while the Cardinal defense gave the Redhawks open look after open look.

Stanford clung to a 28-27 halftime advantage thanks to hot shooting from junior guard Jeremy Green, junior forward Josh Owens, freshman guard Anthony Brown and freshman forward John Gage. Those four players combined for 26 of the Cardinal’s 28 points on 11-14 shooting.

“I think that at halftime we had a talk about having pride and not overlooking this team,” Brown said. “I think in the first half we kind of, you know, said, ‘Okay, well, they’re Seattle. We don’t have to play hard, and we can beat them.’ They came out and competed for the first 20 minutes, and after our little halftime speech, I think we just played with more energy.”

The halftime speech appeared to work, because the Cardinal came out on fire. Stanford opened the half on a 21-6 run to open up a 49-33 lead, its largest of the game. During the stretch, the Cardinal made all nine of its shots, including four by Brown. Green was also superb on offense. Green made the first seven shots he took, including four three-pointers, to bring the small crowd at Maples Pavilion to life. Green’s first miss of the game came at the free-throw line, where Stanford made only eight of its first 17 attempts.

After Green’s final three-pointer, the Cardinal led 61-46 and appeared to be cruising to victory. Stanford went cold though, scoring only six points in the next seven and a half minutes, and Seattle got right back in the game thanks to strong defense and rebounding. The Redhawks grabbed 14 offensive rebounds to the Cardinal’s three, and narrowed Stanford’s lead to 67-61 with just over two minutes to play.

I definitely think we treated them lightly,” Brown said. “We have the Cal game coming up on Saturday, you know, we might have just overlooked them. This is like one of their last Pac-10 games. You know, they’re not in a conference, so they’re trying to make a showing for themselves.”

Stanford head coach Johnny Dawkins called a timeout to calm his team down, and Seattle came out of the break fouling, which seemed to be a good strategy considering the Cardinal’s shaky free-throw shooting. Stanford responded though, sinking 10 of its final 12 attempts from the charity stripe to secure the victory.

For the game, both teams made 25 field goals. The difference was that the Redhawks needed 28 more attempts to reach 25 field goals, largely due to Stanford’s 21 turnovers, and the Cardinal had a significant advantage from both the free-throw and three-point lines. Stanford shot 9-for-16 from beyond the arc compared to Seattle’s 4-for-18 and was 18-for-29 on free throws (16-for-25 in the second half) compared to Seattle’s 12-for-17.

Green and Brown led the way for Stanford, combining for 43 points on 14-for-20 shooting from the field and 7-for-11 shooting from three-point range. Brown also grabbed a game-high 11 rebounds to notch his first career double-double.

“I thought Anthony did a great job,” Dawkins said. “He scored the basketball getting the shots he had and got some good looks. More importantly was the rebounds. I thought he did a great job on the boards. We’ve been challenging him in that area, to be more active on the boards for us. And he really responded tonight.”

Owens also chipped in 13 points, six rebounds, five assists and two blocks before fouling out in the final minutes. His blocks were two of Stanford’s eight, while the Redhawks did not have any.

Stanford concludes its regular season on Saturday when it heads across the Bay to take on rival Cal. Tipoff is scheduled for 4 p.m.