“This one was personal,” said Oscar da Silva. “Especially on our home court.” In last year’s PK80 tournament, Portland State forced 28 turnovers to get the better of Stanford. Much of tonight’s contest felt eerily similar to that stunner, but the Cardinal made enough plays down the stretch to come away with a 79-67 victory. “We survived,” said Coach Haase.
Survived is just what the Cardinal did. The aggressive visitors gave Stanford all they could handle, pressuring the length of the court and trapping to speed up the Cardinal in the half court. It worked, and Stanford committed 19 turnovers on the night. With Daejon Davis mired in foul trouble, ball handling became a real issue.
Portland State is perhaps the least efficient offense Stanford will face this season; they came in with one of the most anemic effective field goal percentages in America. Tonight was more of the same for the Vikings, but they made up for much of their shooting woes by attempting 30 more shots from the field than the Cardinal.
Many Portland State misses saw four or even five offensive players crashing the glass. Stanford knew this was coming, but it didn’t prevent them from getting grossly out-rebounded. The Vikings came away with 24 offensive boards that they converted into 21 second chance points. This was nothing new for them, as they averaged 19 per game coming in and grabbed 25 against the trees of Oregon.
KZ Okpala picked up his second foul just five minutes into the game and sat for the rest of the half. It wasn’t long before Daejon Davis joined him there. Remarkably the two sophomore stars did not attempt a single shot between them in the first half. Portland State capitalized on this and 11 Stanford turnovers to take a 1 point lead into the break.
Stanford came out with a quick 8-0 run to start the second frame, sparked by the reinsertion of KZ Okpala. But the push was short lived, as Portland State battled back and continued to make Stanford play sloppy. “It was as ugly as can be,” said Coach Haase.
With the game still tight deep into the second period, Haase reached into his bag of tricks to create separation. The Cardinal came out in a series of zone looks, including an aggressive 1-3-1 for several possessions. “We were trying to throw them out of their rhythm,” said Haase. It worked, and Stanford forced turnovers that led to easy looks on the other end. Jaiden Delaire, Bryce Wills, and Josh Sharma paid off turnovers with highlight finishes.
Oscar da Silva led the balanced Cardinal attack with 12 points. He showed perhaps the most composure of the entire roster, seldom getting sped up and generally being deliberate with his play. He also had 4 blocks, 4 assists, and 4 rebounds.
The only other player in double figures for Stanford was Bryce Wills, who posted a career high 10 points, including some spectacular shots in the paint. He wasn’t credited with any blocks, but that just means the official scorers weren’t watching the same game as the rest of us. Josh Sharma finished with 9 points, 8 caroms, and 3 rejections in yet another strong outing for the senior. Jaiden Delaire added 9 off the bench.
Jerod Haase remarked that a lot of the young guys grew up a little bit today. He played 11 players, all for at least 7 minutes. It’s not especially likely that the rotation will be this deep moving forward, but it is a good sign for Stanford that they have so many interchangeable parts.
For the third time in four games, Stanford held an opponent to 2 or fewer three point makes. They have made a concerted effort to run shooters off the line, and thus far it is paying dividends. They also blocked 9 shots inside.
Portland State was led by the 20 points of Holland Woods. Michael Nuga added 17, 15 of which came in the first half. But perhaps their most important player was Sal Nuhu, the man in the middle with 15 points and a big 14 rebounds.
Stanford will travel to Lawrence, KS to face the second-ranked Kansas Jayhawks on Saturday. Jerod Haase has lost to his alma mater in each of the last two seasons.