Stanford cruises past Minnesota for NIT title
New York, NY (Sports Network) - Chasson Randle and Aaron Bright scored 15 points apiece on Thursday and Stanford cruised to a 75-51 victory over Minnesota in the NIT title game.
The Cardinal (26-11) outscored Minnesota 44-26 in the second half to capture their second-ever NIT championship. They also defeated Cleveland State, Illinois State, Nevada and Massachusetts in this year's tournament and got 11 points from Anthony Brown in Thursday's victory.
Rodney Williams scored 12 for the Golden Gophers (23-15), who were in search of their third NIT title. They had won six of seven games entering Thursday and eliminated La Salle, Miami-Florida, Middle Tennessee State and Washington before running into Stanford.
"Those guys (Stanford), they just had it going out there tonight," said Minnesota coach Tubby Smith. "We definitely had some lapses on defense but we were right there in the face and they made some tough shots. Some nights, there's nothing you can do about it."
The Cardinal dominated the second half after a tightly contested start.
Williams made a pair of free throws shortly before the break, cutting the Gophers' deficit to 31-25, but they started the second half with a four- minute scoring drought.
The Cardinal took advantage, pushing their lead to 40-25 behind four points apiece from Jarrett Mann and Brown and a free throw from Andrew Zimmermann.
Austin Hollins halted Minnesota's dry spell with a tip-in, but Stanford continued to surge ahead, stretching the advantage to 51-31 near the midway point on two free throws from Bright.
Later, four straight Stanford buckets -- including a dunk from Josh Owens -- made it 70-40, marking the largest lead of the game for either team and effectively tying a bow on the lopsided championship tilt.
"We have had good runs before, but never on a stage of this magnitude where you're playing for a championship, and things start clicking on all cylinders like they did for us during that ten-minute stretch," Stanford coach Johnny Dawkins said of the start to the second half. "It says a lot about our kids, their belief and them being able to share in those experiences."
Stanford earned its first-ever win over Minnesota. The Golden Gophers had won the previous four meetings, although the teams hadn't met since 1975...Stanford also won the NIT title in 1991, while Minnesota won in 1993 and 1998 -- the latter vacated.
03/29 22:18:23 ET