Having dropped 7 of 8, Stanford needed anything to stop the bleeding. Over the course of a month, they went from potentially earning a decent seed to falling to the wrong side of the bubble. Today’s win may not look like much, but it was absolutely essential.
For now, the victory over Washington counts as a Q1 win, the Cardinal’s third. The knock against Stanford’s resume all year has been their lack of high-end wins, and believe it or not, this triumph over the Pac-12’s 12th place team counts as one in the eyes of the committee. It also moves Stanford within a game of .500 in conference play.
But it didn’t come easy. Washington has struggled mightily on offense since Quade Green’s grades turned sour. For the first 20 minutes, though, they had the perfect game plan to pick apart the vaunted Cardinal defense. They attacked out of the doubling down, converted Stanford’s turnovers into 12 points, and picked up 9 more on second chance opportunities. They led 37-35 at the break.
Stanford played the second half like their season was on the line. After giving it away 9 times in the first half, they committed just 2 turnovers in the second. They also didn’t allow the Huskies to score a single point off turnovers or in second chances. The implication of that stat is that they were able to get their half court defense set, and that’s a scary proposition for any opponent.
A Raequan Battle four-point play gave Washington a 3 point lead with 16 to go, but that’s when Stanford put on the clamps. The next Husky field goal wouldn’t come for more than 8 minutes, and the subsequent one didn’t come for another 5. By the time Washington could finally piece together buckets, the Cardinal deficit had turned into a 12 point advantage.
Oscar da Silva led the way with 16 and 9 in his second game back since his grisly blow to the head. Tyrell Terry scored 14, and Spencer Jones added 12 on 4-8 from deep. Jaiden Delaire continued his stretch of solid contributions with 8 and 6 off the bench.
It wasn’t the most dazzling of performances, but perhaps this could be the win to break them out of their slump. They head to Pullman on Sunday in what is a very winnable game versus Washington State. If they can go at least 3-2 in the run-up to Vegas, they’ll be squarely on the bubble. There’s still a long way to go, but today made that all a little bit more possible.