Photo credit: @StanfordMBB
By: Eric Epstein
PALO ALTO, Calif. — The Stanford Cardinal fell to the Pac-12-leading Washington Huskies by 1 point on Sunday afternoon. KZ Okpala’s missed 3-point attempt as the buzzer sounded would have given Stanford the win had it been good, but with its miss, Washington walked away with a narrow victory.
Coming off a 3-point loss to Cal, yet still clinching the Pac-12 regular season title on Thursday, Washington was never able to fully pull ahead from Stanford and establish itself as the dominant team. In the first half, Stanford held a single-digit lead for the first seven minutes, until Washington took over and held a lead for all but a minute and a half of the remainder of the period. In the second half, Stanford managed to grab some brief leads throughout the first 15 minutes, but the scoreboard was still mostly controlled by Washington. However, down the stretch, the teams traded off buckets and experienced 4 lead changes—no margin higher than 3 points. 2 straight jumpers by sophomore Husky guard Jaylen Nowell in the final minute and a half of play proved to be too much for Stanford to come back from as they could only scrape together one basket in the rest of regulation.
Washington outscored Stanford 29-33 in a slow-paced first half that featured 17 total turnovers and a combined 29.8% shooting percentage from the field. Sophomores KZ Okpala and Oscar da Silva, as well as senior Josh Sharma, saw limited playing time in the first period as they all picked up 2 personal fouls.
Out of the 10 players that saw first-half time for the Cardinal, only 5 recorded points, and only 4 of those connected on any of their field goal attempts.
The teams played much cleaner basketball in the second half, shooting a combined 52% from the floor, including a remarkable 56% from downtown.
The Pac-12 leader in field goal percentage in Josh Sharma led the second half in total points with 10. He also pitched in 6 rebounds to finish with game-leading 16 points and 14 rebounds. Freshman guard Cormac Ryan caught on fire during the second half, shooting 3-4 from deep, finishing with 13 points. Da Silva was the third double-digit scorer for Stanford, totaling 15 points on 5-8 shooting along with 9 rebounds and 3 assists.
Overall, Stanford shot 40% from the field and after going 0-8 on threes in the first half, they shot 6-9 from deep in the second period to bring their percentage up to 35%.
Nowell, who finished with 13 points on 6-11 shooting, was the leading scorer for Washington. Disturbed by primary ball handler and point guard David Crisp’s assist-less effort, Washington did not pass the ball well at all and finished with only 7 points at 14 turnovers.
Like Washington, the Cardinal also dealt with passing and playmaking struggles. Stanford played the whole game without their starting point guard in sophomore Daejon Davis, who is still hurt from a foot injury that he suffered in Stanford’s last game against Washington State. The Cardinal greatly missed Davis’ playmaking abilities, as they tallied a terrible assist to turnover ratio at 10:19.
To round out their regular season and make one final push for Pac-12 tournament seeding, Stanford will host Cal on Thursday evening at Maples.