Rob Base and DJ EZ Rock were correct. It takes two to make a thing go right.
Chasson Randle and Anthony Brown were indeed out of sight in Berkeley on Wednesday night. Those two pulled most of the weight in Stanford’s 69-59 win over Cal. Stanford (12-4, 4-1 Pac-12) has won six of its last seven games, while the Bears (11-7, 1-4) have dropped six of their last seven.
Brown and Randle tag-teamed their way through the Bears, leading Stanford back from a five-point halftime deficit. They took turns driving to the hoop, hitting threes, and facilitating. They also worked together, with Brown throwing up an alley-oop to Randle, who rocked the rim with the dunk and riled up the Stanford bench, and put the Card ahead by six with nine minutes left.
A deep three-pointer by Brown rolled around the rim twice and went down, putting Stanford up by twelve with 1:55 to go, and sending Old Blues streaming for the exits. It all added up to a 25-point night for Randle, 18 points and 9 rebounds for Brown, and an impressive performance for two of Stanford’s leaders.
Randle actually played much of the second half in foul trouble, picking up his fourth with 7:43 to go and Stanford ahead 53-48. But Randle didn’t seem fazed by it. His coach? Not so much.
“I’m always concerned when Chasson’s in foul trouble!” Johnny Dawkins chuckled after the game. “When he picked up his fourth and there was that much time left, you have to make some tough decisions. How long do you leave him out? Do you let him go? He did a great job of being a senior. He didn’t pick up his fifth foul. He stayed disciplined on defense, and he helped us get through the game tonight.”
The Cardinal were also paced by 13 points and nine rebounds from Stefan Nastic. In all, Randle, Brown and Nastic scored 56 of Stanford’s 69 points. Marcus Allen started for the Cardinal, finishing with two points in 24 minutes of work.
Early in the second half, Randle and Brown turned a 37-37 tie into a six-point lead for Stanford. Two transition buckets, including a corner three-ball from Brown, helped silence the Haas crowd. At the other end, Stanford’s swarming, collapsing defense made it tough for the Bears to get looks. And when cal could get a shot off, it didn’t fall. With five minutes left, Cal was only down by two. But the way Stanford was playing defensively, they may as well have been down by twelve.
Most importantly, the Cardinal were able to finish an opponent, something they did not do in Los Angeles. Dawkins took pride in today’s result. “We talk about finishing all the time,” he said. “Finishing possessions, finishing games, we use that word all the time. It was good to see our guys do a good job in the second half of focusing and finishing the way we can.”
At the start, the Bears seemed a step quicker than the Cardinal. They outhustled Stanford on the boards, grabbing eight rebounds just 3:20 into the game. If the Bears had shot better (4-14 to start), they would have established more control of the game. As it was, they took a 31-26 lead into halftime.
Meanwhile, Stanford’s woes from the floor to close out halves returned. After Nastic’s straightaway jumper gave Stanford a 23-20 lead, the Card went the final 5:05 of the first half without making a field goal. Offensively, Stanford seemed unsure and out of sync for stretches. And, as had become too common, they hoisted three-pointers as a first resort. This time, Stanford was able to turn things around in the second half, get on top of an opponent, and stay there.
Stanford’s next game is the highly-anticipated meeting with defending national champion UConn (9-6, 2-2 American Athletic; RPI #77). The Huskies had won three straight before suffering a 66-58 loss at Tulsa on Tuesday. Senior guard Ryan Boatright leads Huskies with 16.3 points per game.
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