Freshman Bryce Wills has played significant minutes this season, but has seldom been called upon to handle the ball. Tonight he was thrust into starting at the point after a practice injury left Cormac Ryan in a boot, and a bout with the flu left Daejon Davis in the locker room.
Without either of their primary ball handlers in the lineup, the Stanford offense was sluggish out of the gate. When Daejon Davis finally entered the game with 8 minutes in the half, Stanford only had 13 points on the board and trailed the underdog Spartans by 9. It was a forgettable offensive start.
Davis provided an immediate spark. Over those final 8 minutes, Stanford outscored San José State 21-11. Daejon had 6 points at the rim and dished out 4 assists. The energized Cardinal defense also buckled down and forced turnovers. With KZ Okpala’s buzzer-beating three, Stanford took a lead into the break.
SJSU feasted on Stanford inside. They nearly doubled the Cardinal on the boards in the first period, and scored repeatedly through the post. Stanford threw different zone defenses at them predicated on avoiding post touches, but they weren’t able to alter the Spartan attack much in the first 20 minutes.
SJSU’s coach lamented that their game plan was to force Stanford to take perimeter shots. For much of the game, Oscar da Silva made them pay. The German sophomore made his first 6 three point attempts, as well as another with his foot on the line. He entered the game shooting just 17% from deep, but showcased some of the elite shooting he provided a year ago.
But in spite of the heroics of da Silva and Davis, the Spartans hung tough and Stanford was unable to stretch out their lead. Oumar Barry’s foul trouble forced SJSU to change their offensive attack, and gave Stanford a major boost on the glass. Things finally changed in a bigger way, though, when Jerod Haase made the switch to a 1-3-1 zone.
Stanford’s roster is perfect for the 1-3-1. They have size and length at nearly every position, and can slot multiple guys into the key spots, making it difficult for smaller opponents to pick out passing lanes. Spartan point guard Brae Ivey was forced into 5 second half turnovers, in large part thanks to this zone. SJSU went nearly 4 minutes late in the game without a field goal, all the while turning it over 5 times. Stanford used the transition opportunities to get more looks at the rim, and pushed the lead to as much as 11 points.
KZ Okpala led the way for Stanford with 25 points on just 15 shots, as well as 6 rebounds and 4 steals. Oscar da Silva notched a career high for the second straight game, finishing with 23 points and 10 caroms. Daejon Davis was spectacular with 14 points and 8 assists, while not recording a single turnover.
San José State was led by the 17 and 11 from Michael Steadman and the 15 and 10 from Oumar Barry. With this loss they fall to 3-8, but they have been competitive in all but one of their games to date.
Stanford heads up north to play San Francisco this weekend. The Dons will likely enter the game as the favorite, as they have been off to a terrific start to their season. Cormac Ryan is questionable for that game, according to Coach Haase.