It had been 17 years since Stanford last matched up with Rhode Island, and on Sunday night it was the same outcome as that incredible 1998 Elite 8 game; a Cardinal victory.
Senior guard Chasson Randle took a massive step forward to becoming the program's all-time leading scorer, tallying a career-high 35 points to lead Stanford to a 74-65 win over the Rams in the second round of the NIT Sunday.
Randle, who scored 15 points from the free throw line alone, entered the game with 2,275 career points, ranking third on the school's all-time scoring list. Now, after arguably the senior's best game of his career, he needs just 27 points to break Todd Lichti's record (2,336).
Though it isn't as important, Randle now is just 10 points behind second place on the list, with Adam Keefe (2,319) still hanging in there. It's a no-brainer that if play like this continues in round three, both Keefe and Lichti could be saying goodbye to their current spots.
Anthony Brown had 16 points for Stanford (21-13), while Stefan Nastic added seven points and 11 rebounds in the victory.
Sophomore guard E.C. Matthews was the fire for Rhode Island (23-10), scoring a team-high 23 points and adding 7 rebounds. Hassan Martin put up 16 points and 8 boards in the losing effort.
The matchup proved just how much of an edge that free throws can give a team, as the Cardinal outscored the Rams 36-12 from the line, taking 49 attempts compared to Rhode Island's 21.
Randle, who already had 18 points as the first half buzzer sounded, helped Stanford hold a 31-27 advantage after the first 20 minutes of action. Marcus Allen, finishing with nine points, at the 3:55 mark became the only Cardinal player besides Randle (teammates were 0-18 at this point) to make a field goal.
Though the Cardinal did not hold a comfortable lead going into the second half, there were some important things to take away from their performance in half number one. The team was struggling shooting the ball, going just 9-30 from the field and 1-8 from deep, but they were showing early dominance from the charity stripe, already scoring on more free throws than the Rams would have all game (12).
Stanford held a 44-41 lead with just under 13 minutes to go, but embarked on a 12-5 run to take a 56-46 advantage with under six minutes to go. After a flagrant foul on Rhode Island's Jarvis Garrett, Randle made it a 60-51 game after a pair of free throws.
Go figure! The Cardinal would score 12 of their last 14 points from the line, once again giving another awesome comparative stat to Randle and company. Stanford had just as much free throws in the final five minutes than the Rams had all game. Let that sink in.
While Rhode Island's season is over, Stanford will move on to face #5 seed Vanderbilt (21-13, 9-9 SEC) in the quarterfinal on Tuesday at 6 PM (PT). All eyes will be on you, Chasson. #History