After defeating UCLA in a thrilling double overtime slugfest, Jerod Haase insisted that his team’s performance was not a statistical aberration, but rather a turning point. Three days later, his players vindicated him.
USC came into the year much heralded, returning almost everyone from a team that made the round of 32 in March and adding new depth. An offseason marred by FBI allegations turned into a slow start to the year for the Trojans, but they entered Maples having won five of six, including an easy victory against Cal just days before.
For nearly 30 minutes, Andy Enfield’s squad looked the part of a Top 25 team. Shots were falling, they were getting out in transition, and they were brutalizing Stanford on the offensive glass.
But then, a switch flipped. Stanford’s performance was a mirror image of their late-game heroics against the Bruins. Da Silva came in, turning away what were easy shots in the paint all game, and taking charges. Okpala was getting to the rim at will. Reid Travis was being Reid Travis. With under two minutes to go, a wild Daejon Davis drive put the Cardinal up two, their first lead since the opening minutes.
After an Enfield timeout, Chimezie Metu evened the game. A couple of empty possessions later, USC’s star point guard Jordan McLaughlin got to the rim and hit a tough shot, putting the Trojans up two with just 1.7 seconds on the clock. And that’s when this happened:
With no timeouts remaining, Oscar Da Silva took the ball out, finding Davis in stride at three quarters court. One unmolested dribble later, the freshman point guard let it fly, getting good rotation on the ball. His prayer was answered, setting off an eruption of euphoria throughout the arena and ending in a dogpile on the court.
Stanford was led by Reid Travis’ 29 points, tying a career high he previously tied against USF this season. Michael Humphrey added 15 before heading back to the locker room. Okpala chipped in 11, 9 of which came down the stretch, as well as three big steals. Davis contributed 9 points, six assists, and one SportsCenter top play. This win is all the more impressive, though, for not having Humphrey down the stretch and for getting just two points out of Dorian Pickens.
Chimezie Metu returned from suspension to score 20 to pace SC. McLaughlin added 16 and 7 assists, and Nik Rakocevic played strongly off the bench with 17 points and 6 offensive boards.
The sweep of the LA schools, both of which were preseason top 25, moves the Cardinal to 8-8 on the season and 2-1 in PAC 12 play. Stanford is just a half game out of first, as no PAC 12 team made it through the first two weekends of conference play unblemished.
Stanford will be in action on Thursday night in Pullman, kicking off a weekend road trip against Washington State and Washington.