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Updated: Friday, March 5, 2004 2:24 AM EST
NCAA BASKETBALL RECAP
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(1) Stanford 63, Washington St 61

PULLMAN, Washington (Ticker) -- Matt Lottich's improbable basket kept top-ranked Stanford unbeaten.

Lottich nailed a fallaway 3-pointer at the buzzer as the Cardinal won their 26th straight game by escaping with a 63-61 Pac-10 Conference victory over Washington State.

Stanford (26-0, 17-0 Pac-10) rallied from a 58-52 deficit with 54 seconds left in amazing fashion. The Cardinal took advantage of sloppy play by the Cougars down the stretch, including a five-second violation by Marcus Moore with 17 seconds left.

Facing a 61-60 deficit with 17 seconds to play, Stanford set up for a last shot before the ball got knocked loose from point guard Nick Robinson. After both teams battled for the ball, Lottich came up with it on his back and threw it to Stanford forward Nick Robinson with four seconds to go.

Robinson nearly opted to go up for a shot before he turned and found Lottich behind him. Lottich let go of his shot moments after he took the feed and it swished through as time expired before he was mobbed by his teammates.

"I don't know how many times Matt Lottich has made a shot like that to win the game," Stanford coach Mike Montgomery said.

The Cardinal can become the first team to complete an unbeaten Pac-10 campaign since the conference expanded to 10 teams with a win on Saturday at Washington. No. 2 St. Joseph's capped its unbeaten regular season on Tuesday.

Washington State (12-15, 6-11) suffered its 16th straight loss to Stanford and probably its most frustrating. The Cougars made a plethora of mistakes in the final 76 seconds, beginning with a pair of missed 1-and-1 opportunities.

"Apparently a win turned into a loss," Washington State coach Dick Bennett said. "It was very difficult. But they made every play they had to down the stretch. It is obvious they have something special going for them."

In addition, Moore threw away an inbounds pass with 43 seconds left to play. But the most costly mistake may have come after Jeff Varem's two free throws made it 61-56 with 25 seconds to go.

Hernandez rushed the ball upcourt and found Dan Grunfeld in the corner. Grunfeld nailed a 3-pointer and was fouled by Varem, draining his free throw to cut the deficit to one point. Moore was responsible for Washington State's final mistake when he failed to inbound the ball and it proved to be critical.

"We had them," said Moore, who felt he had called a timeout. "And the refs (got) us, and I'm one to say the refs never (get) us but they really did."

"We got the five-count and then we were fortunate on the endline out of bounds and got the ball in the hole," Montgomery said. "Sometimes you make your luck happen. I really feel badly for Washington State. I thought they did everything they needed to to win. It's been a funny game and our team certainly has been the recipient of some good breaks."

Lottich's game-winner accounted for his only points over the final 16 minutes. He finished with 15 points to lead the Cardinal.

Moore and Varem each netted 14 points for Washington State, which missed a chance to clinch a spot in the Pac-10 tournament. The Cougars lost their fourth straight home game.


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