NEW YORK — With his Stanford teammates struggling and the lead slipping away, Anthony Brown shot the ball with no hesitation.
Brown scored 13 of his season-high 18 points in the second half to lead the Cardinal to a 74-64 win over Massachusetts in an NIT semifinal Tuesday night.
“He had great looks and he (had) confidence and he made them,” Stanford coach Johnny Dawkins said. “He really stepped up tonight and did it for us.”
Brown shot 7 of 12, while the rest of the team was a combined 17 of 53.
The Minutemen took their first lead since early in the game with just over 8 minutes left, but Brown hit a 3-pointer to push the Cardinal back on top, then later scored seven points during an 11-3 run that put Stanford in control.
“There was a change in momentum, and I just wanted to do whatever I could to help the team out,” the sophomore said.
Josh Owens had 15 points and matched a career high with 12 rebounds for the Cardinal, who outrebounded UMass 54-45.
“Josh was the man tonight,” Dawkins said. “I think he controlled the paint.”
Third-seeded Stanford (25-11) will meet Minnesota or Washington in the championship game Thursday night at Madison Square Garden.
Brooklyn native Chaz Williams led fifth-seeded UMass (25-12) with 19 points. But he shot just 7 of 18 and had four turnovers with three assists.
“I came out and made some unforced errors early that I don’t usually make,” he said.
Williams, who had averaged 22.7 points in the NIT, was saddled by foul trouble in the first half. He hobbled off the court with more than 12 minutes to go in the second because of a cramp in his right calf but returned shortly.
UMass was 5 of 22 on 3-pointers and 13 of 22 from the foul line.
Stanford leading scorer Chasson Randle picked up his fourth foul with 13½ minutes left, and the Cardinal missed his defense on Williams.
Down by as many as 12 in the first half, UMass tied the score on an alley-oop from Williams to Maxie Esho with 8:35 to go in the game. After Josh Huestis scored inside to put Stanford back up, Freddie Riley hit a 3 for the Minutemen’s only lead of the second half.
Brown answered with a 3, but Williams tied it with a drive to the basket. After Owens missed a dunk, Aaron Bright made a more difficult shot, hitting a long jumper.
“We got them to play on a few different occasions a little faster than they are accustomed to,” Minutemen coach Derek Kellogg said. “We got them to take some tough shots, and they did a great job of offensive rebounding.”
With Stanford up 56-54 and just under 5 minutes left, Randle drove to the basket and collided with Terrell Vinson. A charge would have ended Randle’s night; instead, Vinson was called for a blocking foul, giving Randle a chance at a three-point play. He missed the free throw, but the Cardinal led 58-54 and still had Randle in the game.
With former Stanford player Landry Fields of the Knicks cheering the Cardinal on, Owens again looked right at home at Madison Square Garden. He scored a season-high 21 points on 10-of-12 shooting against Oklahoma State in the NIT Season Tip-Off semifinals in November.
Stanford went on to let a late lead slip away in a loss to Syracuse in the final. Back in the Garden, the Cardinal held on this time.
“I was really proud of the way the guys fought back,” Owens said.
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