Cardinal Clip Cougars

With Reid Travis out, Stanford rings in the new year by using new faces to beat an old foe in a new place.

Stanford trailed by ten points and led by 16. The Cardinal looked lethargic, then energized. Chasson Randle was a non-factor, then erupted. All in the same game.

In a Jekyll-and-Hyde performance from the Cardinal, Stanford’s better half showed up when it mattered most. The Cardinal opened Pac-12 play with a mark in the win column, a 71-56 victory over Washington State.

For Stanford (9-3, 1-0 Pac-12), Randle led with 18 points. Anthony Brown scored 13 points and grabbed 11 rebounds. Stefan Nastic added 16 points, while Rosco Allen scored ten points off the bench. All former Stanford assistant and Oregon head coach Ernie Kent could do was watch as his Cougars (6-7, 0-1 Pac-12) missed 15 free throws and could not recover once the Cardinal grabbed control.

“I thought the defensive intensity really ratcheted up for us,” said Cardinal head coach Johnny Dawkins. “I thought we had some catalysts out there. Robert Cartwright does a great job of coming in and giving us tat defensive energy. I thought Rosco, Marcus, and all of those guys came in and really raised their level of intensity on the floor. That was good for us.”

A matchup of explosive seniors never truly materialized, and when it did, it was one-sided. Chasson Randle went oh-for-the first half from the floor, but roared back with seven quick points after the break. Washington State’s DaVonté Lacy averaged over 17 points per game coming in, but he missed all five of his three-pointers, clanged four free throws, and scored just nine points.

At the start, the drowsy Cardinal looked a step slow against the Cougars, who scored the game’s first eight points. Stefan Nastic’s putback of an Anthony Brown miss gave Stanford its first points with 4:50 elapsed in the game.

“A little sluggish to start, obviously,” Brown said. “Overall, we picked it up, but going forward, we’ll have to be much better to get more wins.”

After building a ten-point lead, the Cougs started to cool. Then, Brown stole a pass from Ny Redding and slammed it home at the other end to wake up the Card and close Washington State’s lead to five midway through the half.

From there, the Card moved the ball more crisply on offense, played much tighter on defense, and received big contributions from their bench. Grant Verhoeven grabbed two offensive boards, Rosco Allen and Marcus Allen drove for critical buckets, and Robert Cartwright’s free throw gave Stanford its first lead, and 18-17 mark with 5:26 left.

Meanwhile, the Cougars missed nine straight shots, many of them contested. The Card closed out the half with two tip-ins from Marcus Allen and Stefan Nastic, and Stanford went to the locker room with a 27-24 lead. Stanford began the second half with an 11-1 run, and was never seriously threatened from there.

Stanford’s reserves were responsible for 15 first-half points. After singling out Marcus Allen’s efforts, Dawkins mused, “When was the last time that our bench outscored our starters in the first half of a game? I can’t remember that since I’ve been coaching. It was good to get that kind of lift from those players.”

On Friday morning, Stanford announced that forward Reid Travis had suffered a stress fracture and would be out indefinitely. Dawkins revealed after the game that Travis had suffered a thigh injury, but did not know when it happened. Nor did he commit to a definitive timetable, but speculated that Travis could be out three to four weeks. Grant Verhoeven started for Travis on Friday.

“It’s definitely a big blow,” Brown admitted. “Reid was a big body, our leading rebounder, and he brought a level of physicality. But other guys on the team can definitely step up. It’s got to be a collective effort.”

Against the Cougars, it was a collective effort. “Anthony Brown had eleven rebounds,” Dawkins pointed out. “That’s huge. Grant gave us six in fifteen minutes. That’s huge. I look at it as an opportunity for some people to step up. We challenged those guys to step up. Looking at the box score, I think pretty much all of them did. There was a lot of positive energy from a lot of different players.”

“Grant didn’t know he going to start until yesterday,” Dawkins said. “There is a big adjustment, but I thought Grant was terrific. I thought he came in and gave us a big lift, especially on the boards.”

The Cardinal close their homestand on Sunday, when the Washington Huskies (11-1; #21 AP) arrive for a 7 p.m. tipoff. Picked to finish sixth in the Pac-12’s preseason poll, Washington blazed off to an 11-0 start, then dropped a head-scratching loss to Stony Brook at home to close out 2014.

Entering their Friday night game in Berkeley, the Huskies had four players averaging double figures in scoring. Guards Nigel Williams-Goss (13.6 ppg, 80 assists, 34 turnovers) and Andrew Andrews (not a typo. That’s his name. 12.0 ppg, 35.5% 3-point FGs) lead the Huskies, while center Robert Upshaw comes off the bench and blocks shots (55 in 12 games).

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