Photo credit: @StanfordMBB
By Joey Friedman
PALO ALTO, Calif. — The 2018-2019 regular season got off to an energetic start for the Stanford Cardinal on Tuesday night as they hosted Seattle University at Maples in the season opener. The Cardinal beat the Redhawks by a score of 96-74.
Stanford’s return to the court got off to an energetic start, however, the energy didn’t translate into a favorable score for the Card. Despite collecting the opening tip, a Daejon Davis bucket on the first offensive possession, and a shot clock violation on their first defensive possession, Seattle kept pace as the Stanford defense began to yield easy buckets and the offense began to stagnate.
Two early fouls on Josh Sharma sent him to the bench and gave Trevor Stanback substantial playing time, however his play was inadequate as he provided little support to Stanford on both offense and defense. Seattle’s lead grew to eight points with the score 24-16 at which point Stanford seemed unwound and lacked defensive discipline.
Stanford was able to climb within two points of Seattle on three separate occasions as the clock wound down on the first half. The first two times, Seattle was able to counter with the three-point shot, however, they couldn’t respond the 3rd time and Stanford was able to tie the game on a pair of foul shots for KZ Okpala. A Jaiden Delaire three-pointer took the lead with a minute and a half left and Stanford closed the first half with a 40-36 lead while shooting only 42% from the field.
KZ Okpala led the force in the first half with a team-leading 13 points and 6 rebounds. Alternately, for the Redhawks, Junior forward Anand Hundal came off the bench to contribute a team-high 11 points while going 3 of 4 from beyond the arc.
Stanford rode the 3-ball to a twelve point lead within the first ten minutes of the second half; Cormac Ryan hit 4 consecutive three-pointers just as Daejon Davis and KZ Okpala each hit one. Fittingly, after the game, Ryan couldn’t remember the last time he lost a game of horse.
Stanford started to heat up on the backs of KZ Okpala, who contributed another 3 as well as a number of points in the paint, and Josh Sharma who contributed six points of his own, Stanford stretched the lead to 20 points with just under six minutes to play. Stanford only got hotter as the lead grew to 29 points by the time there were only three minutes left.
KZ Okpala finished a double-double with a whopping 29 points to pair with 10 assists in 36 minutes of play. The others to collect double digits in the points column were Cormac Ryan with 16 (5/6 from beyond the arc), Daejon Davis with 15, and Marcus Sheffield with 10. Despite KZ’s big night, after the game Coach Hasse was quick to recognize the 3 turnovers he had, the high ceiling he posesses, and room for growth KZ still has as only a sophomore.
For Seattle, the following four players scored more than 10 points: sophomore guard Terrell Brown had 16, junior guard Matej Kavas and junior forward Anand Handal each had 13, and junior guard Morgan Means finished with 11.
Stanford shot an immaculate 73% (11/15) from three while finishing the game with a 52% overall field goal percentage. Seattle finished shooting 44% from the field. Stanford outrebounded Seattle 39-28 but unfortunately turned the ball over more as well, by a 13-11 margin.
Stanford will be back in action on November 9th on the road against UNC Wilmington at 1:00 PM PT. They will have the 8th-ranked North Carolina Tar Heels on the road on November 12th before they return to Maples to play Wofford at 7:00 PM on November 16.