Despite being down by 17 points with 6:39 to play, the Stanford Cardinal (3-3) went on a 21-1 run to end the game, pulling off a stunning 69-66 comeback win against Arkansas (2-3) to finish in third place at the NIT Season Tip-Off tournament.
“I’ve seen how big their hearts are,” said head coach Johnny Dawkins after the comeback was complete. “We’ve gone through a lot of adversity early in our season and through that I’ve really learned a lot about my team. And the thing I’ve learned is they have big hearts, they keep competing, they never give up.”
“If you’re going to beat us, it’s going to be 40 minutes,” Dawkins added. “It won’t be because our kids let up.”
Rosco Allen finished with a career-high 25 points and 9 rebounds in an inspiring and clutch performance for Stanford, while senior guard Anthlon Bell finished with 17 points for Arkansas on 5-of-7 shooting from 3-point range, despite fouling out with under two minutes remaining in the contest.
The Razorbacks were in firm control for most of the game and held the lead for all but the opening minute and the last 2.6 seconds, even jumping out to as much as a 20 point lead in the first 11 minutes of play. While Arkansas’ full-court press in the opening half caused a lot of problems for the Cardinal, Stanford also faced problems once it got down court, being held to only six field goal attempts in the first 10 minutes. The team also committed six turnovers while Bell made his first four triples to give Arkansas a commanding lead early.
Marcus Allen then led a 16-2 Stanford run in which he scored six straight points to help cut the deficit to 10 going into halftime. During the run, Stanford switched to a 2-3 zone defense and scored 10 points off some sloppy Razorback play. Allen was aggressive driving to the rim and drew several fouls to jump-start the stagnant Cardinal offense, while Rosco Allen also chipped in a key pair of threes.
Arkansas, which had rebuilt its lead in the second half, seemed to be pulling away after a Manuel Watkins layup put the team up 17 with 6:39 left, but Marcus Allen forced the issue until the Razorbacks’ foul trouble left them without an interior presence. Arkansas sophomore Moses Kingsley fouled out at the 16-minute mark of the second half after tallying a double-double of 12 points and 12 rebounds.
It was that same energy that motivated the final 21-1 Stanford run to close the game out. Stanford’s defensive pressure held the Razorbacks without a field goal after the one Watkins made. Michael Humphrey’s huge block on a Razorback layup attempt gave Stanford the ball with 8.9 ticks left on the clock. With Kingsley, Arkansas’ primary rim protector, out of the game, Marcus Allen drove hard from the right wing and netted the game-winner after a goaltending call.
After a pair of Rosco Allen free throws following a technical foul, a close half-court heave by Dusty Hannahs nearly sent the game into OT, but it rimmed out to seal the 69-66 win for Stanford.
The clutch play of Rosco and Marcus down the stretch proved critical for a Stanford squad still trying to find its offensive rhythm. The comeback win puts the Cardinal at 3-3 on the season.
The team will have a chance to recover before playing its next matchup at home on Dec. 12 against Dartmouth.
Contact Irving Rodriguez at irodriguez ‘at’ stanford.edu.