With no students, no band, and few fans willing to brave a rainy night and an early tipoff, Chasson Randle made his own noise on a quiet night at Maples Pavilion.
Randle scored 31 points and swiped five steals, and Stanford recovered from another sluggish start to get a 67-58 win over Loyola Marymount. Stanford (6-2) used stifling defense and a tenacious Randle to beat the Lions (3-6).
“He hadn’t played to the level that we’ve seen Chasson play at, but on a night when you need him the most, he has 31 points and plays terrific,” Cardinal head coach Johnny Dawkins said afterwards. “I’m really proud of him, and he always seems to rise to the occasion.”
That occasion presented itself with three minutes left in the first half and Stanford on the wrong end of a 31-19 score. From there, Randle flipped the switch, spearheading an 8-0 Cardinal run. Randle scored six points and dished to Verhoeven for the other two, and Stanford was down by four at the half.
With four minutes left and the Cardinal ahead 55-50, Randle began his most impressive second-half sequence with a three-pointer. Two minutes later, he converted a reverse scooper down the baseline past two Lions. Then, after hitting two more free three throws, Randle drive right down the Lions lane for a layup. When the smoke cleared, Stanford had a 64-54 lead with 40 seconds left, and Randle had put up a personal 9-0 run on LMU.
“I think it was a matter of me just turning up the pressure defensively,” Randle said of his night. “I wanted to get into their guards a little bit, get some deflections and some steals. Once we started doing that, we got out in transition and things started to open up.”
The only thing that didn’t go Randle’s way was the end of his streak of consecutive free throws made. A second half attempt went awry, ending Randle’s streak at 39 straight. On the night, Randle went 10-of-12 from the line.
“I’m very disappointed in him for that,” Dawkins deadpanned. “He had a nice streak going. To have that many games and to have these be your first misses, especially with the amount of free throws he takes per night, it’s phenomenal.”
While Randle was turning it up, LMU was turning it over. The Lions coughed it up four times in the final three minutes of the first half, and finished with 17 turnovers on the night.
“We need to do that,” Dawkins said. “We talk about turning teams over, but it’s another thing to actually do it. Tonight, we did. We had a lot of run outs because of that, and of course Chasson is pretty dynamic when he gets in the open court.”
Randle’s night and a fine team defensive effort bailed out the Card after another rocky start. LMU used an array of putbacks, layups, and three-pointers to build their 31-19 lead in the first half.
“We can’t start games like that if we want to continue to win,” Randle said of the sluggish start. “I don’t know what it was, I can’t explain it. The past two games we’ve come out lethargic. I think that needs to turn around. Quickly.”
Stefan Nastic recovered from early foul trouble to finish with 15 points. His layup after a Robert Cartwright steal gave Stanford a 46-45 lead with 9:20 left. The Card never trailed again. Dorian Pickens also chipped in with two key three-pointers. The first bucket completed the Card’s comeback from LMU’s twelve-point lead, and put Stanford ahead 39-37 with 14:25 left.
After Nastic was called for two quick fouls, Grant Verhoeven made his debut five minutes into the game. Coming off of hip surgery and having just been cleared for action, Verhoeven played nine key minutes and held his own. “Having Grant come back and contribute was big for us,” Dawkins said. “I thought he responded right away. He hit his first shot and was off to the races from there.”
From here, Stanford hits the road to face BYU (8-3; #63 RPI) in Provo on Saturday, then heads to Austin to tangle with #9 Texas (9-1) on Tuesday.********** ********** **********
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