Michael Humphrey scored 26 points and pulled down 18 rebounds as Stanford survived a powerful second half onslaught from the Tigers of Pacific to win 89-80.
The game started out well for the Cardinal, as they took a 53-31 lead into the locker room. Damon Stoudamire’s squad fired back in the second half, though, cutting the lead to as few as five points in the game’s final minutes.
Forty eight hours after going scoreless on two shots, the 6’9” senior was just one point off the career high he set last season against UCLA. Coach Haase ran a set play for him in the game’s opening minutes, and the big man never cooled off. His level of activity on both ends of the court was crucial, as he blocked two shots and pulled down 15 defensive rebounds. The two first half threes he hit helped knock the Tigers out of their defensive scheme early.
Another game, another dominating performance from Travis. Although he did not receive a lot of true post up touches, he had a big game getting to the rim off the dribble and sealing off defenders in semi transition. He’s still the go-to guy when a clutch basket is needed. He even went 9-10 from the line, bringing him to 80% on the season, just two years after being sub-50% from the stripe.
As a team, Stanford finished an astounding 35-39 from the line. At the half, they were a perfect 19-19, and late in the game they seemed as if they would break the school free throw percentage record. This showing is particularly important as the team shot just 68% from the line a season ago. In a game that ultimately got too close for comfort, cashing in on these opportunities helped provide a cushion.
In the second half, Stoudamire’s team made an adjustment to an aggressive zone defense that gave Stanford fits. Part of the problem was the inability to knock down outside looks. The Cardinal also wore down a lot of possessions into the late seconds of the shot clock, settling for bad, contested shots. They made a number of silly turnovers, as well. If it weren’t for the bailout fouls, things could have gotten even uglier. In each of the three games thus far (counting the exhibition), Haase’s squad has failed to make timely adjustments to opponents switching up their defenses.
Michael Humphrey’s 15 defensive boards were impressive, but the Cardinal still allowed far too many second chance opportunities to an undersized Pacific squad. On the night, the Tigers grabbed 10 offensive rebounds, led by the 4 of Anthony Townes. Had Townes not been in as persistent of foul trouble and logged more than 19 minutes, the situation could have been far worse. With the size of the Stanford front line, they should not be allowing that many putback opportunities to lesser competition.
Stanford was playing without Marcus Sheffield and Kezie Okpala for the second straight game. Neither player has a timetable for return as of yet. Early in the game, Kodye Pugh twisted his ankle and hobbled off into the locker room, ultimately spending the rest of the game on the bench. In the closing minutes, Dorian Pickens also headed to the locker room with an apparent injury. In recent years, injuries have really plagued the Stanford program. The team will need to be at or near full strength as the meat of the schedule approaches.
Stanford is now 2-0 on the season. They will play host to Eastern Washington on Tuesday at 7 PST.