Compiled from Times wires
© St. Petersburg Times, published March 11, 2001
Stanford romps toward top seed
STANFORD, Calif. -- Mike Montgomery was the last to climb the ladder. After cutting the final strand, he grabbed the net with one hand and held up three fingers with the other.
The crowd roared, both for Stanford's players and for the coach who has fostered sustained excellence at a school that hadn't seen it in decades.
Top-ranked Stanford clinched its third straight Pac-10 title with a 99-75 victory over Arizona State on Saturday. Though the Cardinal's three seniors were the centers of attention in the regular-season finale, no one enjoyed it more than Montgomery.
"It just feels so good to watch the kids and the students and all the fans just enjoy the whole thing so much," Montgomery said. "We're going to take a big deep breath now and enjoy this day, but we'll get right back to practice tomorrow."
Casey Jacobsen scored 15 of his 21 in the first half, and Ryan Mendez had 19 as the Cardinal was assured the nation's best regular-season record. It avoided sharing the conference crown with Arizona or UCLA, the only visiting teams to win at Maples Pavilion this season.
Stanford, which also earned the Pac-10's automatic berth in the NCAA Tournament, hadn't won three straight conference crowns since winning the Pacific Coast Conference from 1936-38.
After an easy, festive win, the team was in a reflective mood.
"This is such a great program," said Mendez, who set conference and school marks for consecutive free throws made.
"The old guys leave, the new guys come in year after year, and we get good results. We seem to go to the tournament year after year. We're just looking at this as a beginning."
The Cardinal, which lost 76-75 to No. 8 Arizona on Thursday night on a last-second basket, left no doubt against the Sun Devils. Stanford led by 22 in the first half and 26 in the second while cruising to its eighth victory in nine games, likely assuring it of the top seed in the West Region.
"The guys on this team have the experience to go further in the tournament," Jarron Collins said. "As freshmen and sophomores, we've been through frustration. We know what it feels like, and we know what it takes to overcome that."
All five Stanford starters scored in double figures. Jarron Collins had 15, Mike McDonald 12 and Jason Collins 10.
"That's the outcome I was looking for," Montgomery said. "Our kids have been focused and have worked hard all the way through this thing."
With Stanford undergrad Chelsea Clinton cheering from a seat two rows behind the west basket, Arizona State lost its seventh straight to Stanford and ended the season with five losses in seven games.
Stanford seniors Mendez, Jarron Collins and McDonald were honored before the game. All three starters played key roles as the Cardinal quickly grabbed an insurmountable lead and spent the second half in a free-throw shooting contest.
WASHINGTON 96, NO. 13 UCLA 94: Michael Johnson's three-pointer with 1.1 seconds left lifted the last-place Huskies.
The visiting Bruins had won 17 of 20 before dropping their regular-season finale.
It was a happy ending to a disappointing season for Washington, which snapped an eight-game losing streak.
Greg Clark's 8-footer was blocked out of bounds by UCLA's Dan Gadzuric with 3.6 seconds left, giving the Huskies one last chance.
Johnson took an inbounds pass from Clark and immediately released his winner. Johnson finished with a career-best 29 points on 11-of-23 shooting.
HOFSTRA 68, DELAWARE 54: Jason Hernandez's only field goals of the second half started a closing 10-0 run as the Pride won the conference tournament for the second straight season. Hofstra enters the NCAA Tournament on an 18-game winning streak, longest in Division I. The Pride beat the Blue Hens in last season's title game, also on its homecourt in Hempstead, N.Y., where it has won 36 of 37.
KENT ST. 67, MIAMI (OHIO) 61: Trevor Huffman scored 27 as the Golden Flashes earned their second trip to the NCAA Tournament and second conference tournament title before a championship game record 12,172 in Cleveland. Huffman, the tournament MVP, scored 14 of Kent State's final 16 and 19 after halftime. Kent State also made the NCAAs in 1999.
HAMPTON 70, S.C. STATE 58: Tarvis Williams scored 11 of his 18 in the second half in Richmond, Va., as the Pirates earned their first trip to the NCAA Tournament in their sixth season in Division I. Hampton, which split with the Bulldogs this season and tied them for the regular-season title, opened a 14-point lead early in the second half and never let South Carolina State closer than seven.
N'WESTERN ST. 72, MCNEESE ST. 71: Michael Byers-Dawson sank two free throws with nine seconds left to lift the Demons in the championship in Bossier City, La., sending Northwestern State to the NCAA Tournament for the first time. The sixth-seeded Demons have won seven of their past eight.
ALABAMA ST. 64, ALCORN ST. 52: Joey Ball scored 14 and Tyrone Levett added 12 in Birmingham, Ala., as the Hornets earned their first trip to the NCAA Tournament. Alabama State, the regular-season champion, trailed 36-28 at halftime and faced a 13-point deficit with 15:25 remaining. Alcorn State went on a 5-0 run in the first five minutes of the second half but managed one field goal in the next 12 minutes.