STANFORD, Calif. (AP) — Energized by a remarkable shot at the end of the first half, Stanford picked up its defensive pressure and created enough offense to earn a trip to New York City.
Josh Owens scored four of his 15 points in the final 1:54 to lead Stanford past Colorado State 64-52 in the second round of the NIT Season Tip-Off Tuesday night.
Aaron Bright added 12 points for the Cardinal (3-0), who advance to next week’s semifinal round at Madison Square Garden. Stanford will play the winner of Wednesday’s game between Texas-San Antonio and Oklahoma State.
“It’s something we set as a goal,” Owens said. “I’m excited because I have family on the east coast.”
Gabe Harris, who finished with 12 points, was 4 of 4 and Jarrett Mann 2 of 2 from the foul line over the final 43 seconds to hold off the Rams (2-1), who went scoreless over the final 3:01.
Harris’ 70-foot shot at the buzzer drew the Cardinal within 33-31 of the Rams, who dominated the first half, and set up the second-half rally.
“That was definitely a pick-me-up,” Owens said. “We were building some momentum and to close with that gave us all kinds of energy.”
Wes Eikmeier scored 13 points to lead Colorado State. Greg Smith and Jesse Carr each added 10 points.
“I felt like we did this to ourselves,” Rams coach Tim Miles said. “We had a great opportunity to go to Madison Square Garden and make a national impact. We imploded with silly turnovers and missed free throws.”
Will Bell hit a layup to give Colorado State a slim 41-36 advantage four minutes into the second half. Stanford began a 13-2 run that eventually gave it a 49-43 edge with 11:39 left to play. Bright and Owens combined for 11 of those points.
“We made some ball-handling errors and took poor shots,” Miles said. “A lot of things went wrong for us and a few things went right for them. They got rolling.”
The Cardinal held onto the tenuous lead the rest of the way, as they never led by more than eight until the final seconds.
“In the second half we defended as well as we ever had,” Stanford coach Johnny Dawkins said. “We dug in and played defense.”
The Rams, who were looking for their first 3-0 start in six seasons, drew within 54-52 when Andrew Zimmerman was called for goaltending on a Bell basket. Stanford went six minutes without scoring but limited the Rams to six points during that span.
“Colorado State is a great team,” Owens said. “We were slow in adjusting to them. As we settled in we turned things around.”
Eikmeier hit a jumper with 4:57 left in the first half, giving The Rams their biggest lead at 31-20.
Stanford, which committed seven turnovers in the game’s first seven minutes, went on an 11-2 run the rest of the half to close the gap.
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