Jerod Haase has put in work since taking over the Stanford team some 18 months ago, instilling values, bringing in fresh faces, and scheduling tough matchups. But through a year and a half, one thing he hadn’t done was knock off a ranked opponent. That changed Wednesday night, as the Cardinal led nearly wire-to-wire to defeat the 16th ranked team in America.
Through six games, the Cardinal have shocked everyone en route to a 5-1 start, good for a share of first place with Arizona. Stanford proved it is no longer just an upstart squad, but a team to be taken for real.
Wooden Award semifinalist Tra Holder was held scoreless by Kezie Okpala and others through the first frame. With the help of a hot start from Dorian Pickens and 2 of Reid Travis’ 3 three point field goals, the Cardinal took a two point lead to the half.
Right out of the gates in the second half, Stanford clamped down defensively. The lead swelled to 15 as the Cardinal executed well and Daejon Davis racked up a good portion of his 8 assists.
Like every team in this conference, Arizona State did not roll over when getting down; they proceeded to cut the lead to just two points late in the game. However, Arizona State’s full court press in the waning minutes was Swiss cheese, and Stanford converted enough easy hoops and free throws to ultimately secure a 9 point victory.
Oscar da Silva and Josh Sharma combined to go 11-11 from the field off the bench, grab 11 boards, and block 3 shots. They each scored 14 points. Sharma provided a spark as Stanford stretched the lead to 15 in the second half, playing tough defense and converting dunk after dunk. Oscar da Silva struggled early with foul trouble, but his defense and steady play were key to weather the late ASU run.
It was another day at the office for Reid Travis, with his 18 points and 10 rebounds. Pickens chipped in 19, and Davis had 13, 8 assists, and 3 steals. Romello White led the way for ASU with 19. Kodi Justice scored 14 before leaving late in the game with injury. Shannon Evans put in an inefficient 13, while Tra Holder scored 9 on 3-14 shooting. Holder’s rough night is a testament to the defense of Okpala et al.
Stanford will face Arizona on Saturday, where the outright conference lead will be on the line. Arizona’s Rawle Alkins is day-to-day with a sore foot.