NCAA: Stanford uses hot shooting start, downs New Mexico

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New Mexico Lobos Cameron Bairstow (41) has his progress stopped by Stanford Cardinal Josh Huestis (24) and Stefan Nastic in the first half of the NCAA Division 1 Men's Basketball Championship at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis on March 21, 2014. UPI/Bill Greenblatt

ST. LOUIS (KTVI)- The Stanford Cardinal jumped out to a 20-4 first half lead Friday over New Mexico in second round play at the NCAA tournament’s South regional and used the run, plus a tough shooting afternoon from the Lobos, to advance to the third round with a 58-53 win at Scottrade Center. The game marks the seventh straight year that a 10th seeded team has upset a 7-seed in the tournament.

Stanford hit its first six shots and was 8 for 10 to start the game, coupled with a drought from New Mexico where the Lobos were held without a field goal for 7:15 in the opening half.

Stanford point guard Chasson Randle (Rock Island, IL) paced Cardinal scorers with 23 points, five rebounds and two assists, including 9 of his team’s first twenty points in the opening run.  New Mexico’s Cameron Bairstow led all scorers with 24 points and added 8 rebounds for the Lobos.

Bairstow kept his team in the game as the Lobos fought to narrow the lead to five at half at 32-27. With just over 10 minutes left in the second half, Cullen Neal was fouled on a drive to the basket to tie it at 45 but Neal could not convert the free throw for the lead.
New Mexico missed 15 of its final 17 shots down the stretch.

“We just had a hard time scoring the basketball, which we haven’t done most of the year. I thought Stanford played a really good game,” New Mexico Head Coach Craig Neal said afterward. “We weren’t able to make enough baskets and get enough stops.”

The win is Johnny Dawkins’ first NCAA tournament victory in six seasons as a head coach at Stanford. “We got early versus them and bult a good lead and they played the way I’ve seen them play a lot on tape. They kept fighting, kept coming back. And they dug in and made it a game at the end and our guys had to make plays that were I think befitting of what he had done all season,” Dawkins said.

Among those forced on to the NCAA stage was walk-on Robbie Lemons, who hit two key free throws to push the Stanford advantage to 56-52 with 23 seconds left to help seal the win.

“We came out energetic and ready to go,”  said Randle, who was playing in front of a few dozen friends and family from Illinois. “We knew how big this game was and just excited for the opportunity, and we sustained it for most of the game. Once they made their run back, we definitely had enough confidence left in us to finish out the game,” he said.

Stanford will play the winner of Kansas-Eastern Kentucky on Sunday.

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