The first two Pac-12 games on Thursday night were decided by margins of 28 and 42 points. Stanford was late to the party, but still completed the blowout trifecta.
Behind a ruthless second-half performance, the Cardinal handled Oregon State, 75-48. Stanford (18-9, 9-6 Pac-12; RPI #55) turned a nine-point first half deficit into a runaway win. Chasson Randle led with 15 points, while Michael Humphrey exploded for 14 points and 15 boards. Oregon State (17-11, 8-8; RPI #94) suffered its fourth loss in five tries.
The Card decided the issue with a 22-4 run in the second half. Stanford rebounded from a brutal first half of shooting (29%) to hit 53% from the floor after halftime. They also stepped it up defensively, as the Beavers shot just 21% from the floor for the half. Oregon State’s possessions faded into a long, painful sequence of turnovers, bricks, and overall futility. And with the Beaver frontline weighed down with foul trouble, Stanford killed Oregon State on the offensive boards, grabbing nine after halftime.
“Offensively, it was one of the best jobs we’ve executed for a half,” said Johnny Dawkins. “But defensively is where we hang our hat. To hold them to 18 points in the second half takes a heck of an effort. That was nice to see.”
“The defense was big,” Anthony Brown added. “In the first half they scored a little more than we wanted them to. In the second half, we picked up the intensity, and our defense led to easier baskets for us on offense.”
Along the way, Michael Humphrey went full Michael Humphrey, killing Oregon State with putbacks, tip-ins, and cleanup buckets. He also swatted Cheikh N’diaye at one end, setting up a driving layup from Chasson Randle at the other end. And for good measure, he slithered around Daniel Gomis for a gorgeous baseline scooper.
“I definitely feel more comfortable,” Humphrey said of his fourth career start. “But I think it all starts in practice. I think everybody is getting more comfortable with the way we’re playing in practice, and it’s translating to the game. Getting the game minutes is helpful, but we’ve had some really intense practices the past few weeks. That’s what is helping us out.”
After watching Humphrey put together big games back-to-back, Dawkins said, “I see a young man starting to blossom. It’s really fun when you see a player at that stage of development. This young man is coming into his own. And he still has a huge upside. I think there’s still so much potential in him that he still has time to realize as he goes through our program.”
Humphrey may have been a catalyst – as usual – but Stanford’s second-half resurgence was a team effort. Randle began the half with a go-ahead three-pointer, and later passed Gary Payton – the original one – for sixth all-time on the Pac-12 scoring list. Reid Travis scored nine points and grabbed four rebounds in 22 minutes of action.
The first half can be summed up thusly: both teams combined for 20 fouls, 19 field goals, and 17 turnovers. That’s really all you need to know. If you insist on more details, drink something strong first, then read on. Otherwise, skip the next paragraph.
Anthony Brown’s three-pointer cut the Beaver lead to 13-12 with 12:57 left. After that, the Card went on a horrendous stretch from the floor, making just two of their next 18 shots, and not making a field goal at all for a 7:45 stretch. The Beavers, sparked by a breakaway dunk by Gary Payton II, went on a 13-1 run to take a 28-19 lead with 2:52 left.
Fortunately, that was enough time for Stanford to finally show some life again, and Marcus Allen’s three-ball from the corner made it a 30-28 Oregon State lead at the half. “I think it was a big shot,” said Dawkins on Allen’s three-pointer. “It was one of those momentum shots to close the half. Really, really big. Big for Marcus, but more importantly, big for our team.”
The first half ended with Allen’s big shot, but halftime was punctuated by a message from Dawkins. “Losing this game would have put us out of contention for the postseason we want to go to,” Brown recalled. “Basically he just challenged us. What do we want to do with our season?”
Now, Stanford wants to finish its home schedule with a win on Sunday, as Oregon (21-8, 11-5; RPI #39) comes to Maples Pavilion for a 4 p.m. tipoff. On Wednesday night, Joseph Young scored 25 points, Dwayne Benjamin notched a double-double (18 points, 10 rebounds), and the Ducks knocked off the Bears in Berkeley, 80-69. After stumbling early, Oregon has entered the Tournament conversation, winning three straight and seven of its last eight.********** ********** **********
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