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Loss to St. Mary’s a ‘Tale of Two Halves’

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Stanford basketball faded down the stretch

NCAA Basketball: St. Mary's at Stanford Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Facing a twelfth-ranked St. Mary’s squad on Wednesday night, the Cardinal men looked to remain competitive against the undefeated Gaels, the first ranked Stanford opponent of the season. However, even after leading by four at halftime, the Stanford shooters fell flat in the second half. St. Mary’s caught fire and burgeoned their lead to a 66-52 final deficit. Here’s what sank them:

Stanford’s streaky shooting

A 38.2% field goal percentage would be considered a decent shooting performance for any team in college basketball. But for the Cardinal, Wednesday’s shooting performance was a tale of two halves. Still, as the Cardinal sank 38.2% of their shot attempts from the field, a “decent” showing could not save them from the barrage the Gaels would drop on them.

A large majority of the Cardinal’s made baskets came in the first half. There especially seemed to be a lid on the basket for Dorian Pickens, who averaged 18.3 points per game in last week’s Advocare Invitational Tournament. Pickens missed all four shots he took, finishing the game with a measly two points.

Grant Verhoeven proved to be the only consistent player in the second half. I don’t think that’s a winning formula.

St. Mary’s offensive outburst

The Gaels can stake their claim to the country’s No. 12 ranking due in large part to their ability to put the ball in the bucket. St. Mary’s shot 55.1% as a squad, with a 40% (11-of-27) clip from beyond the arc. Junior forward Calvin Hermanson, who contributed a career-high 25 points, was responsible for seven of those eleven long-distance makes.

St. Mary’s is a top four team in the nation (tied for third) in shooting percentage. So it isn’t too outlandish to predict a game in which they will score a ton of points.

Cardinal inside-outside ineffectiveness

As has been evident in the first seven games of the Cardinal’s season that Jerod Haase wants to involve his posts, primarily double-double machine Reid Travis and athletic big man Michael Humphrey as much as his guards. Those two combined to go 9-of-17, while the rest of the team struggled. With Hermanson keyed on Pickens, the Cardinal guards needed to provide a spark, but mustered nothing.

Stanford has, so far, been a team that favors a high-tempo, fast-break offensive attack, which relies on guards to create and facilitate. Unfortunately, St. Mary’s pace overwhelmed them, and it showed. Haase needed more energy and effort out of the trio of Christian Sanders, Robert Cartwright and Marcus Sheffield.

Haase has more than handful of things to work on before Stanford travels to Lawrence, Kansas. Hopefully, they can work out the kinks before a Saturday tip-off against the fourth-ranked Jayhawks.