The Beavers had earned some much-deserved shine from the media as Stanford came calling in Corvallis. Everybody respects what second-year Head Coach Wayne Tinkle has accomplished in Cow Valley, and Gill Coliseum had become a House of Horrors for the opposition. Coming into Wednesday night, the Beavs had racked up a 22-2 record at home under Coach Tinkle.
And then Stanford crashed the Beaver Party.
Playing perhaps its most complete and poised game of the year, the Cardinal improved drastically in its second shot at a true road game (St. Mary’s), controlling the game virtually wire to wire and holding off a frantic Beaver final charge to win 78-72.
How did Stanford do it? It starts on offense, where the Cardinal posted an ORtg of 116.4 after coming nowhere near 100 in its first two conference games at Maples. And how did they do that? By channeling the spirit of Reid Travis and doing the things #22 does so well in his absence. The Cardinal crushed the Beavers on the offensive boards, grabbing a staggering 48% of available offensive rebounds. That led to 16 2nd chance points the Cardinal would need to land in the winner’s circle.
They also earned free throw points at a 33% rate. That translated to a +5 advantage in foul line points, where Stanford has been excelling all season. That’s pretty impressive in a conference road game. The Cardinal had also done a good job of playing clean D all season. That got taxed a bit in this game thanks mainly to the Pac-12 game refs deciding seemingly a priori that Michael Humphrey wouldn’t spend much time on the Gill Coliseum court. Nevetheless, the Cardinal won the battle at the line, and it helped make the difference.
In the first half, Stanford played very well on both ends of the court. They suffocated the Beavers in the paint on defense, with guards rotating down properly in help situations and boxing out even on Oregon State bigs. Christian Sanders drew a key loose ball foul on one such play in the second half as well. On offense, they moved the ball well, attacking the Beavs’ 1-3-1 zone with skip passes like the one Dorian Pickens used to find Marcus Allen, who stepped into a baseline three and sank it.
In the second half, Oregon State tried valiantly to take control of the game, but time and again, Stanford refused to allow it to happen. Much of this has to do with Pickens, who once again stuffed the stat sheet with 14 points, five rebounds and four assists and zero turnovers, on his way to a team-best +10 for the game.
Rosco Allen continues to step into his role as team leader and go-to guy. Rosco led the scoring with 21 points, found his three-point stroke (3-5), and made a number of Big Boy drives on the day. So did Marcus Allen, who continues to be a one-man Blur in the open court. Marcus had 15 points to go with six rebounds (four offensive) and three steals.
Things got a bit choppy in the second half, with Stanford becoming increasingly content to work the ball gradually up the court against Oregon State’s traps and presses. The Beavers found a good deal of success on offense in half two, scoring 48 points with an efficiency rating of 137(?!?!), but it wasn’t enough because Stanford would not be denied on the offensive end.
Stanford’s offense started out very crisply, and for the game assisted on 54% of their buckets, an improvement over the 40.6% overall mark they have in conference play. The three-point shooting was not lights out, but it was good enough for most of the game that Oregon State had to respect it, and that created a number of driving lanes for the Cardinal to exploit.
This was a very encouraging response on a short turnaround from the loss on Sunday night to Colorado. The question now becomes can Stanford use this as a launch point, with four very challenging league foes on the horizon (Oregon, Cal, Arizona Schools)? It starts Sunday night in Eugene, against a Duck team who has been very difficult for Stanford to beat under Coach Dana Altman.
It’s way too early to make any kind of long term proclamations, but I really enjoy watching this team play. They dive relentlessly for loose balls, they battle, they take it to the hoop aggressively, they share the ball, and they have each other’s backs on defense. They definitely seemed to want to push the ball more at the outset, which is a very good sign for a team loaded with athletes. Marcus Sheffield had a brilliant coast to coast drive at a critical moment for the Cardinal, who are now back at Stanford until they return to Oregon on Saturday for an encore Sunday night against Los Platos.
Great bounce back, but now it’s time to get greedy, Fellas.