10:00 PM ET, January 2, 2004
Maples Pavilion, Stanford, California
STANFORD, Calif. (AP) -- Josh Childress' nervousness went away with his first layup. A few minutes later, he seemed to be in midseason form in his season debut.Too bad his coach wasn't there to see it.Childress scored 10 points in his first action of the year and No. 5 Stanford remained unbeaten while coach Mike Montgomery served a one-game suspension, beating Washington State 73-51 Friday night.Justin Davis had 13 points for the Cardinal (10-0), who finally had the use of their full roster -- including Childress, a star forward last season who's been sidelined this year with a left foot injury.Childress, the Pac-10's second-leading rebounder last season, played just 7 minutes but led a second-half surge in Stanford's 15th consecutive victory over Washington State in the Pac-10 opener for both teams."I could have been more effective, that's how I have to look at it," Childress said. "But I was pleased with the way I played. I'm not hesitant. I may be a little bit slower, but I force myself to be aggressive."Montgomery was hit with the first suspension of his career for making contact with an official during a game against Arizona State late last season. Assistant Tony Fuller ran the team as Montgomery missed his first game in 18 seasons with the Cardinal.But Stanford had little trouble with Washington State (6-5), which has lost 36 of its last 39 conference games. The Cardinal outrebounded the Cougars 34-18 while smoothly executing their offense."Our guys are so well-drilled, even though they know their leader isn't here, they still do their jobs exactly the way they're coached," Fuller said. "We have, obviously, very intelligent young men out there."Marcus Moore had 15 points and six assists, but the Cougars never got within 10 points of the Cardinal in the second half of coach Dick Bennett's Pac-10 debut."They don't give you anything on defense," Bennett said. "They were dominating on the glass. Of course, we labor to score and rebound, and those are two fairly important facets of the game."The Cougars' 51 points were their fewest in a Pac-10 opener since the 1983-84 season. Washington State has lost 41 straight to ranked opponents.Rob Little had 10 points and seven rebounds, and Matt Lottich added 10 points and seven assists for the Cardinal.Childress, his hair at its usual exorbitant height, got a standing ovation from the sellout crowd when he checked in midway through the first half. He missed his first shot, but the crowd roared again when he blocked Jeff Varem's shot moments later.Childress believes the time he missed could make him a better player."When you're on the bench, you see a lot more than you do on the court," Childress said. "I think that's helping me. Also, being off for so long has helped me get stronger. ... My conditioning is just going to have to come with me continuing to run. Hopefully it doesn't take very long."Stanford never trailed, maintaining a comfortable lead while shooting 60 percent in the first half. The Cardinal held Washington State scoreless in the final 5:10 before halftime, taking a 37-23 lead."I think game coaching is sometimes overrated," Bennett said. "I just didn't see that much of a difference in this Stanford team at all without their head coach. His system is such that these players know exactly what to do on the court, and they know when they're coming out of the game."I'm not saying the system runs itself, but the system is so strong, it maintains itself."The Cougars made a 10-0 run midway through the second half, pulling within 51-41 on Chris Schlatter's 3-pointer with 10:22 left. But after Joe Kirchofer hit a hook shot, Childress made a 3-pointer from the corner, then grabbed a difficult offensive rebound and scored on the Cardinal's next possession.Stanford's Chris Hernandez missed a free throw with 15:12 to play, ending his streak of 31 straight. Hernandez, the Pac-10 leader, had missed just one free throw all season.
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