Stanford becomes first No. 1 seed to fall after 70-67 loss to Alabama
Posted: Saturday March 20, 2004 9:02PM; Updated: Saturday March 20, 2004 9:59PM
SEATTLE (AP) -- Josh Childress watched from the end of the bench as Stanford's latest comeback attempt came up just short, bouncing off the rim.
This time, there was no fantastic finish for the Cardinal.
Dan Grunfeld missed a 3-pointer from the right wing at the horn and Stanford became the first No. 1 seed to exit the NCAA tournament on Saturday, upset by Alabama 70-67.
"We're extremely disappointed," coach Mike Montgomery said, looking stunned in the interview room. "It's hard to figure out what to say. We just never could seem to get on track."
Kennedy Winston scored 21 points and eighth-seeded Alabama (19-13) shot 10-of-14 from the free throw line in the final minute.
"People think by our record that we're not a very good team," said Tide point guard Antoine Pettway, who scored 12 points. "But we just beat Stanford."
The Crimson Tide shot 34-of-44 from the foul line, riding the free throws to the round of 16 for the first time since 1991. Alabama heads to Phoenix next week to face Syracuse.
"We always felt we could beat anybody. Now we really know it," said Alabama's Chuck Davis, who scored 12. "They were the No. 1 team in the country, and it gives us a lot of confidence going to Phoenix."
Childress, the Pac-10 player of the year, scored 12 points but he fouled out with 3:16 to play and had to watch the final minutes.
"I never felt like it slipped away," Childress said. "They hit their free throws, which was unfortunate for us, but I don't ever feel like it slipped away."
Sorry, but this time it did.
Matt Lottich hit a 3-pointer with 7.2 seconds remaining to pull the Cardinal to 70-67 and Alabama's Earnest Shelton missed two free throws at the other end to give Stanford (30-2) a final chance.
Twice earlier this season, Stanford stayed unbeaten with wild shots at the buzzer, including one over Arizona that brought alum Tiger Woods running onto the court at Maples Pavillion.
Lottich made a desperation 3-pointer to salvage a win at Washington State on March 4, and he hit another against the Tide with 23.6 seconds on the clock to pull Stanford to 67-62.
On the Alabama bench, coach Mark Gottfried thought for a moment he might see Stanford do it again.
"I'm sitting there with 15 seconds to go, thinking, 'Are you kidding me?' Gottfried recalled. "But I wasn't going to bring that up with my players because we needed to concentrate on what we have done, not what they have done."
It appeared the Cardinal wouldn't need a last-second shot to beat Alabama after taking a 53-40 lead with 7:40 left. But the Crimson Tide rallied with a 16-0 run.
"Even when we were down 11, I knew we were going to win," Davis said. "I never felt like we were out of it."
It was a spectacular turnaround. Alabama was listless through the first 10 minutes of the second half, missing 16 of its first 17 field goal attempts after the break.
"We knew it was nothing they were doing to make us miss wide-open shots," Davis said. "Things started falling, and we took it home from there."
Alabama's players raced onto the court to celebrate, with Davis falling to the floor and then hugging Big Al, the Tide mascot. Pettway mugged for the first television camera he came across.
Stanford players filed past, shaking hands before retreating quietly to the locker room.
The second round has been rough on Stanford recently, with the Cardinal losing at this point for the fifth time in the last six years.
"You guys look at the past too much," Childress said. "We're talking about this year, our 30-2 season."
Seattle has been tough on Stanford, too.
The season ended two weeks to the day after the Cardinal's only regular-season setback, a 75-62 defeat at Washington -- just a few miles from the site of this stunner.
"The relevance of the past, the relevance of us being in Seattle, the relevance of the last game -- all that had nothing to do with this game," Montgomery insisted.
Maybe, but that didn't help backup center Matt Haryasz as he choked back tears during a postgame radio interview. It didn't ease the pain in the Stanford locker room.
"I'm just sick of getting to this point and saying, 'We're going to do it next year,"' point guard Chris Hernandez said. "It's to the point where you have to put it out on the floor and get it done."
Stanford was a No. 1 seed in 2000, losing to No. 8 North Carolina. Earlier in the day in Seattle, Nevada stunned No. 2 Gonzaga.
Childress' last two fouls came seconds apart.
"It was boom, boom, and he was out," Montgomery said.
Childress banked in an 8-footer but it was waved off after he was called for an offensive foul. Seconds later he was whistled for a hold at the other end, and Tide fans were on their feet cheering.
"We got back on our heels and they took control," Lottich said.
Stanford led 51-39 after Childress hit a jumper with 11:20 remaining.
Alabama slowly woke up, though. Shelton hit a 3-pointer, pulling the Tide to 53-48 with 5:59 to play, and it was 53-50 after Evan Brock's two free throws with 5:18 to go.
The Tide kept coming, and when Pettway hit a 3-pointer with 4:04 to play Alabama was up 55-53.
With 13.5 seconds on the clock, Alabama fans started chanting "overrated."
The Tide players weren't intimidated, and they showed in the first half they had the athleticism to compete with Stanford.
"They weren't overrated. We were underrated," read a sign in the Alabama locker room.