Utah guard Marco Anthony (10) is defended by Stanford guard Michael O’Connell during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Stanford, Calif., Thursday, Feb. 17, 2022. (Darren Yamashita, Associated Press)
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SALT LAKE CITY — Stanford was a team that couldn’t afford to lose. The Cardinal needed all the wins they could get to maintain a fighting chance of an NCAA Tournament bid less than a month before Selection Sunday.
Utah, who had nothing to lose in a Thursday night road contest, had other plans.
Gabe Madsen hit a deep 3-pointer at the top of the arc as the shot clock expired to give Utah its first lead (57-54) of the game since the opening minutes. And all Stanford could do was play the catch-up game with fouls in hopes Utah would miss at the charity stripe.
Utah hit enough from the free-throw line in the final 28 seconds of regulation to steal a 60-56 road victory — the program’s first this season and the first time in the last 13 tries — on the Farm.
The Cardinal built up a 9-point lead with 12:48 left in the game, but a spell of shooting woes gave Utah (10-16, 3-13) the opening it needed to chip away at the lead in a game that featured eight lead changes and a low-scoring affair from both programs.
To make matters worse for the Cardinal (15-11, 8-8), they failed to make a field goal over a five-minute period that included making only one basket out of 11 tries. Meanwhile, Utah used a 12-2 run over the final five minutes to overcome the deficit and earn the victory.
Utah had four players score in double figures Thursday night, including a team-high 13 points apiece from Both Gach and Branden Carlson. Madsen and Rollie Worster each finished with 11 points and a combined eight rebounds on a night where Stanford outrebounded Utah 39-36.
The Cardinal were led in scoring by Jaiden Delaire and James Keefe’s 11 points apiece and a combined 15 rebounds. Brandon Angel finished with 10 points and three rebounds in the loss.
The teams opened up the late-night contest with a pair of short runs, both eventually equalizing the other out until the game turned into a bit of back-and-forth match, with each team trading buckets. Stanford eventually pulled away on another small run and kept a distance away from the Utes that never topped double digits for nearly the duration of the game.
But when the shots stopped falling late in the game for Stanford, Utah capitalized.
Utah had seven turnovers in the first half, including five quick mistakes in the opening minutes, but settled in and had only one turnover for the remainder of the game to finish with eight. Utah failed to record an assist in the first half but finished with six on 22 made baskets while shooting 40% from the field.