Stanford 65, Virginia 49
STANFORD, Calif. (AP)—Chris Hernandez can now look back on his final home game and smile. So, too, can Matt Haryasz and Dan Grunfeld.
The Stanford trio combined for 36 points, eight assists and 12 rebounds to lead the Cardinal to a 65-49 win over Virginia in an opening round game of the NIT on Tuesday night.
The 16-point victory was in sharp contrast to Stanford’s previous appearance at Maples Pavilion on March 4, when the Cardinal were thoroughly outplayed by eventual Pac-10 champion UCLA, losing 75-54.
“This felt a lot better walking off than it did against UCLA,” said Haryasz, who had 10 points and seven rebounds against Virginia. “This is a good way to go out, playing like a team.”
The win advanced Stanford (16-13) to Friday’s first-round game at Missouri State (20-8).
Hernandez, who scored a game-high 14 points and had four assists to move into a tie for fifth place on Stanford’s career list, didn’t care where the win came. He’s just happy the Cardinal extended their season another day.
“I didn’t think about this game compared to others,” Hernandez said. “I just know that this is one of the best games we’ve played all year, regardless of whether we played zone or man (defense).”
Stanford held Virginia to a season-low in points and forced 15 turnovers while posting its most lopsided win since a 58-34 victory over Princeton on Dec. 21. The Cardinal led by as much as 19 and never let the Cavaliers get closer than 12 points in the second half.
Hernandez took just seven shots from the floor but his points and assists were timely for Stanford. The senior guard had eight points in the first half, including a pair of 3-pointers, when the Cardinal took control. Then after Virginia made its best push of the night to close within 46-34 in the second half, Hernandez made another 3-pointer and dished out two assists to spark a 9-0 run that put the Cavaliers away.
Grunfeld also had eight points in the first half and finished with 12 overall.
The win snapped a late-season drought by Stanford, which lost six of nine before beating Virginia, and extended the Cardinal’s first appearance in the NIT since 1994. That was also the last time Stanford played Virginia before Tuesday.
Barring an upset, the Cardinal will play out the rest of their season on the road. To get another home game Stanford—seeded No. 7 in its bracket—would need to reach the quarterfinals and hope that No. 10 Delaware State makes it, too.
“It’s safe to say this was one of our better games all year,” Stanford coach Trent Johnson said. “I’ve felt all along, all year long, that zones give us the opportunity to get open looks. And when teams get up after us man-to-man and pressure us on the half-court and full-court, it causes problems for us.”
Stanford’s offense, which struggled against pressuring defenses in late-season losses to UCLA and Arizona, had no problems against Virginia’s soft zone. The Cardinal shot 57.1 percent from the floor in the first half and 49 percent for the game.
Nine different players scored for Stanford, eight in the first half when the Cardinal jumped out to a 36-23 lead.
Conversely, Virginia shot just 32.3 percent from the floor in the first half and went through two long scoring droughts. Stanford took advantage and went on runs of 17-3 and 13-4 to take control.
“Today we took more off-balance shots than anything,” Virginia coach Dave Leitao said. “Stanford had a lot to do with it. They played us physical and they bumped us, which is a good way to play us. We weren’t patient enough to make extra passes.”
The Cardinal’s only problem came at the free throw line. The Pac-10 leader in free throw percentage during the regular season, Stanford made just 8-for-14 from the line in the first half.
The game was a matchup of former NIT champions. Stanford won in 1991 while Virginia captured the tournament title in 1980 and ’92.