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Cardinal avenge only loss of season

3/14/2004

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- 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.

Nate Robinson, the 5-foot-9 guard who fearlessly drove the lane
against Stanford's big men, led the Huskies with 16 points and five
assists. Bobby Jones and Mike Jensen added 11 points each.

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.