San Francisco (12-1) came into the game ranked 43rd in KenPom, a full 68 spots ahead of Stanford (6-5) and only one behind Pac-12 leading Oregon. The Cardinal found themselves a 9 point road underdog, and lost by exactly that.
The Dons are playing their best basketball in years. They sit at 12-1, with the lone blemish coming in a tight game against 14th ranked Buffalo. They feature a veteran roster, highlighted by spectacular senior ballhandler Frankie Ferrari, whose play is as cool as his name. When he’s not dishing out no-look assists, he’s sitting in the crowd eating popcorn after an and-one.
As much praise as USF deserves, Stanford simply did not bring it for the first 30 minutes. Cormac Ryan, the Cardinal’s second-leading scorer and top marksman, missed his second straight game with an ankle injury. The rest of the team looked like they had a lid on the basket.
At halftime Stanford was 7-26 (26%) from the field with 11 turnovers, amounting to just 19 points. San Francisco is an excellent defensive team, but that’s still remarkably poor execution. In one four minute stretch, the Dons went on an 8-0 run thanks to 6 Stanford turnovers. Even when they held onto the ball, they squandered a number of paint opportunities. The only thing that kept them within striking distance was a +7 advantage on the glass.
Stanford has been wont to go on second half runs this season, but Kyle Smith’s Dons made adjustments of their own. Suddenly a USF offense that had been struggling in the half court was humming along to perfection, led by the drive-and-pitch skills of Ferrari. The skilled point guard had 15 points and 5 assists in the second frame, against 0 turnovers. They pushed the lead to as much as 17.
As the game wound down, Stanford finally mounted a run. Bryce Wills hit consecutive three point field goals, the first two of his career, and the Dons faltered a bit at the line. In the final two minutes, Stanford got it as close as 4 on two occasions. It was just too little too late, as the unflappable play of the veteran USF squad never let them get any closer.
Daejon Davis led Stanford with 19 points and 5 assists. Oscar da Silva had 12 points including 2 more three point makes, and Bryce Wills scored 10, the most of his young career. They finished 35% from the field as a team, though they scored 46 points in the second half.
San Francisco was paced by the 19 of Charles Minlend. Ferrari finished with 17, and Jimbo Lull notched his first career double-double with 11 and 15.
Stanford has one more non-conference game remaining, as Long Beach State comes to Maples next Saturday.