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Another Cardinal loss? Not even close

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- The Stanford Cardinal returned to their
winning ways and got Justin Davis back, too.

Josh Childress scored 17 points and the second-ranked Cardinal
led all the way in defeating Washington State 68-47 Thursday in the
first round of the Pac-10 tournament.

Stanford had lost its opening game both times since the Pac-10
revived the tournament in 2002.

Before Washington ended Stanford's 26-game winning streak last
Saturday, the Cougars put a scare into the Cardinal, who needed
seven points in the final 25 seconds for the victory.

"They concerned us because they gave us a great game a week
ago," Stanford coach Mike Montgomery said. "We came out and
played harder and defended the shooters better."

Saint Joseph's, which replaced Stanford in the top spot, lost
for the first time this season Thursday, 87-67 to Xavier in the
Atlantic-10 quarterfinals.

"We're not worried about Saint Joseph's at all," guard Matt
Lottich said. "They had a nice run, as did we. I'm sure they're
going to regroup."

The Cardinal (27-1) advanced to Friday's semifinals against the
winner of the California-Oregon game.

As if the Cardinal doesn't have enough scoring threats, Davis
played his first game since bruising a bone and tearing a left knee
ligament in January. He had seven points and four rebounds in 14
minutes Thursday.

"It felt good out there. I'm probably at 75 percent right
now," he said. "I don't think my explosiveness is where it should
be. It's just a matter of continuing the strengthening."

Montgomery plans to bring Davis along slowly and increase his
minutes as the Cardinal progresses in postseason play.

"Psychologically, it made a huge difference for our team,"
Montgomery said. "He ran down some balls. He's a
difference-maker."

Eighth-seeded Washington State (13-16) finished with six more
victories under first-year coach Dick Bennett than last season. The
Cougars were in the tournament for the first time since 1990, when
all 10 schools qualified.

"When we would threaten occasionally they were always there to
close the door," Bennett said. "We appeared to be a little tight
and never fully got past that."

Marcus Moore scored 17 points and Jeff Varem added 10 for the
Cougars, who lost to Stanford for the 16th straight time. Thomas
Kelati, one of the Pac-10's top 3-point shooters, was 1-of-5 from
long-range.

"They did a really good job, especially on me," Kelati said.
"Every time I touched the ball, I couldn't turn around without a
Stanford defender."

Chris Hernandez was Stanford's only other scorer in double
figures with 11. The Cardinal controlled the boards 33-22, and
Stanford's bench outscored Washington State's reserves 24-10.

"They were much more aggressive and they recovered to the
shooter very quickly," Bennett said. "They were a step quicker
and just a shade more alert."

A week after nearly becoming the first team to beat the
Cardinal, Washington State couldn't muster much scoring against
Stanford's hard-nosed defense. Lottich hit a 3-pointer in last
week's 63-61 win against the Cougars.

"We had a sour taste in our mouths all week, so we had some
great practices and that just carried over to the game," Lottich
said. "We don't want to have that feeling the rest of the season.
We want to go out on top."

This time, the Cougars struggled from the opening tip. They
missed their first nine shots and committed three turnovers in the
first 7{ minutes before Isaiah Simmons made a free throw.

"There was a reason the score was 22-5 and that's because we
were playing hard," Montgomery said. "When we don't play hard on
defense, our margin of error is diminished."

Stanford held the Cougars to 23-percent shooting in the first
half, when it led 31-20 at the break.

"We regained our focus and went back to what made us
successful," Childress said. "We really concentrated on defense
and being the aggressor."

Washington State made a brief run to start the second half.
Moore hit consecutive 3-pointers and the Cougars made four straight
free throws to close to 38-30. But they never got within single
digits the rest of the game. They made just six field goals in each
half.

Childress keyed a 15-5 run by scoring eight points before he
picked up his fourth foul with 8{ minutes remaining in front of a
mostly quiet, sparse afternoon crowd at Staples Center.