Stanford (8-8, 1-3) is on the board in Pac-12 play. In what was perhaps their best 40 minutes of the season, the Cardinal ran wild on Arizona State (11-5, 2-2) and ended a three game losing streak.
For one of the first times this year, Stanford found itself ahead at the under-16 media timeout. The Cardinal carried over the energy from Wednesday’s loss to Arizona, as they jumped out to a 10-2 lead. But Arizona State quickly rebounded and made it a back and forth affair, thanks to a personal 9-0 run by freshman Luguentz Dort.
The Stanford defense was energized for 40 minutes. They had the Devils bothered early, as they forced two shot clock violations. “We came into this one with the right mindset,” said Oscar da Silva. The sophomore forward sent away two shots in the first half, and was an absolute nuisance to the Sun Devil attack.
Stanford took the lead on a 7-0 run late in the first half after KZ Okpala went to the bench, punctuated by Daejon Davis’ and-one. They went to the break with a 40-38 advantage, in large part thanks to committing just 3 turnovers.
They wasted no time building a cushion out of the locker room. On the first play, Davis threw a lob to Josh Sharma, which he turned into an and-one finish. Oscar da Silva followed that with a posterizing dunk in transition. Okpala got into the act with a transition and-one of his own. A Cormac Ryan three and a Lukas Kisunas layup later, Stanford had completed a 12-0 run.
Arizona State couldn’t buy a bucket for the first six minutes of the half, and things didn’t get any easier for them with Dort picking up his fourth foul with 15 minutes to go. “Cormac Ryan stepping in and taking that charge was a huge play.” It was unfortunately a huge play that knocked the freshman from the game, with yet another apparent ankle injury. He did not return.
The Devils were too good to go away without a fight. They were able to mount a run, thanks to Remy Martin throwing in a few unorthodox shots from the perimeter. He cut the lead to as few as 5 before Davis did the unbelievable.
Early in the game a recording of Daejon played across the big screen, where he lauded LeBron James as his favorite player and role model. As ASU was slicing into the lead, the sophomore guard pulled off a chase-down block that would have made the King proud. The speedy Martin picked up a loose ball and had what seemed to be a breakaway layup. He checked his rearview mirror and assumed he had enough room to finish, but Davis soared out of nowhere at the last moment and sent the ball away. On the very next possession, Davis took a Martin charge. The Devils would never again have a chance.
The Cardinal ripped off an 8-0 run and then another 9-0 run to expand the lead to 19, at 73-54. Arizona State attempted to make up ground by trapping and fouling, but the deficit was too prohibitively large. Things got sloppy at the end, but Stanford closed out the game with a 14 point victory.
Coach Haase believes it was Stanford’s best performance thus far. “We’re trending up,” he said. “We’re getting better as a team and we’re getting better as a program.
Once again Stanford was led by the superb play of the sophomore trio of Davis, Okpala, and da Silva. Okpala had 21 points and 9 rebounds, including 4 three point makes. Oscar da Silva turned in a double-double, with 21 points, 10 rebounds, 4 assists, and a pair of rejections. Davis had 13 points and 9 assists.
Isaac White saw action in place of the injured Ryan and had 5 big points late. “Isaac is more of a fighter than I give him credit,” said Haase. The coach nearly leveled his Australian sharpshooter off a chest bump. Walk-on Rodney Herenton scored a late layup.
Arizona State was led by the 16 of Luguentz Dort, 15 of which came in the first half. Rob Edwards added 13, and Zylan Cheatham tallied 8 points and 12 caroms.
Stanford travels to Washington and Washington State this week. In a wide open Pac-12 conference, stealing a road game or two would be huge.