STANFORD, Calif. (AP) – Dwight Powell struggled with his shooting all night. That was about the only thing he struggled with, however.
Powell had 12 points — on 3 of 13 shooting — 15 rebounds and four blocked shots to help Stanford beat Stephen F. Austin 58-57 Tuesday night in the opening round of the National Invitation Tournament.
His final blocked shot came with 41 seconds remaining and the defending NIT champion Cardinal clinging to a 1-point edge.
“They’re a great defensive team,” Powell said. “I missed some easy shots but we were all focused for this game. We’re in this tournament to win as many games as possible.”
Aaron Bright added 11 points for the Cardinal (19-14), who won for the third time in four games and travels to Alabama for a second-round game on Saturday.
“We had to dig in and make a stop at the end,” Stanford coach Johnny Dawkins said. “We forced a tough shot.”
Taylor Smith, the Southland Conference Player of the Year, had 18 points to lead four Lumberjacks (27-5) in double figures. Antonio Bostic, who left the game late with a shoulder injury, had 15 points. Hal Bateman added 12 points and 7 assists and Desmond Haymon had 10 points.
The Cardinal opened a seven-point lead midway through the second half and maintained a slight edge the rest of the way. Powell blocked Haymon’s shot with 41 seconds remaining and Gabe Harris came up with the loose ball.
Haymon also missed a shot in the closing seconds.
“We beat a good team who had a great year,” Dawkins said. “They are one of the best defensive teams in the nation and we knew it would be a grind it out game.”
The Lumberjacks, who have held 64 consecutive opponents to fewer than 70 points, entered allowing 51 points a game while Stanford came in with a 71.4 scoring average.
“We just wanted to get the best shot that was available,” Haymon said. “Unfortunately, the shot we took just didn’t go down. It was a great look. We just completely lost at the end.”
Stanford’s Robbie Lemons, who hit a pair or 3-pointers, left the game with a cut above his left eye.
Bostic hit a 3-pointer in the final seven seconds of the opening half to give the Lumberjacks a 32-31 advantage into the intermission.
“We just wanted to get the best shot that was available. Unfortunately, the shot we took just didn’t go down. It was a great look. We just completely lost at the end,” Lumberjacks coach David Kaspar said.
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