Stanford (14-11, 7-6) did not have the best trip to Pauley in January. Tonight, they overcame the Bruins (13-13, 6-7) and a 45+ minute delay to put together their best offensive performance in recent memory. As UCLA’s Bill Walton would’ve put it, this was like the Age of the Romantics.
Cormac Ryan was in the zone. The sharp-shooting freshman was just 1 for his last 13 threes, but everyone knows shooters shoot their way out of slumps. “It’s big for his confidence to see that first one go in,” said Coach Haase. “Although his confidence is always high. “
Ryan made his first five shots from the field today, and found a number of other ways to contribute. With Daejon Davis back in the fold, Ryan was thriving as a secondary creator, racking up 3 assists and several more hockey assists. He also grabbed 6 boards and drew a charge.
UCLA jumped out to an early 11-2 lead thanks to a hot start from Jaylen Hands. But Stanford clawed back almost immediately, mounting a 7-0 run, before then using a 14-0 burst to go up 28-16. Josh Sharma was spectacular, getting 8 early points before picking up his second foul.
In the matchup at UCLA, Moses Brown had a big game as Sharma sat on the bench. This time around, though, the Stanford senior was dominant. He was 10-11 from the field, with 22 points and 12 rebounds. “They probably missed a foul call on my [one miss],” he joked. “He’s shot the last three of his career,” quipped Haase. Brown was outmatched, never able to get into any sort of rhythm on offense and going just 2-8 from the field.
Stanford took a 49-40 lead into halftime, thanks to 13 assists against just 5 turnovers. They consistently made the extra pass, and the offense was humming.
The halftime break ending up being nearly an hour. One of the rims was evidently a bit loose, to where it was deemed necessary to replace it. The baskets were retracted, and new hoops were rolled onto the court. Fresh shot clocks were placed on the baselines, as well. For a team with all the momentum, such a lengthy intermission could spell disaster. That was not the case for Stanford.
The Cardinal were sharp to start the second frame. They used an early 13-1 run to go up 64-43, and for all intents and purposes put it out of reach. Daejon Davis was dazzling in his return from injury. The sophomore point guard set a new career high with 12 assists, and earned a double-double with some 13 minutes remaining in the game. The dimes were coming in all phases: transition, drive and kick, dump offs to Sharma, alley-oops. He was in complete control.
UCLA attempted to mount a late run, cutting the lead to as little as 9 with 4 minutes to go. But Davis took control of the team, and they ripped off a 12-0 run to put any notions of a comeback to rest. “He’s a great leader for us,” said Sharma.
The Cardinal went over 100 for the first time since last year’s double overtime win over the Bruins. It was their first time eclipsing the century mark in regulation since 2013.
They had five players in double figures. Sharma led the way with his 22, and Okpala sleep-walked his way to 20 of his own. Bryce Wills picked up two early fouls in the first half, and ended up sitting more than 90 minutes of real time. He played like the most rested man on the court in the second half, scoring 10 quick points. Ryan finished with 19.
“We’re finally healthy,” said Haase. “We basically have six starters and a lot of other really good bench players.” He praised their performance, but emphasized that they still have a ways to go. “We haven’t arrived yet.”
UCLA was led by the 29 of Jaylen Hands. Jules Bernard kicked in 19 off the bench.
Stanford is in action next week at the Arizona schools. They currently sit 1.5 games out of second place in the league thanks to wins in 5 of their last 6. Every game is big in the chase for a top 4 seed.