Who's Haas? Our Haas! Ahh, that pun never grows old. Stanford silenced The Bench with its second win in a row at California, improving its overall record at Haas Pavilion to 4-2. With both teams entering the game at 1-3 in conference play, the contest was an important barometer for determining what the Card and Bears can expect as Pac-10 play progresses.
The sharp-shooting of Chris Hernandez, steady point production from Dan Grunfeld, and a quiet double-double from Rob Little helped propel Stanford to a 74-58 victory. Both Richard Midgley and Ayinde Ubaka returned from injury for Cal but failed to make a significant impact on the game.
Rob Little won the tip for Stanford, giving control to Chris Hernandez Before you could say "I want five passes before anyone shoots," Hernandez nailed a three pointer from the top of the key, much to the elation of Cardinalmaniacs and chagrin of Coach Norman Dale from Hoosiers.
Employing a man to man defense with limited pressure from the outside, Stanford stymied the Cal shooters. Although Midgley's two three pointers within the first 5:20 helped tie the game 10, the Bears never could establish a consistent outside game. Stanford established a motif in the early going, finding a way to respond whenever it seemed that Cal was on the verge of making a serious run. Hernandez, not to topped by Midgley, scored his second three pointer to put Stanford back ahead 13-10.
Stanford was able to extend the advantage with Jason Haas inserted at the point guard position and Hernandez placed at the two. Hernandez came up with a steal and fed Haas down the court, who pulled up just inside the arc for a basket. Two possessions later, Haas swung the ball to Hernandez. Hernandez used the catch and shoot to add another trey, pushing the lead to nine at 23-14 with 7:18 left in the first half.
After a quick breather, Hernandez returned to the game, providing an excellent assist in transition at the four minute mark. After driving to the basket and drawing a defender, he slipped a pass through the middle of the key to a wide open Little for an easy layup. On Stanford's next possession, Little's two free throws capped a 16-2 run to make the score 29-14. During that stretch where the Bears were held to one field goal in eleven minutes.
Stanford took a 36-21 lead going into halftime. Cal was further compromised to start the second half as Midgley picked up his third foul before the break. However, Stanford's own foul troubles, turnovers, and the shooting of Rod Benson and David Paris prevented the Card from turning the game into a blowout.
Matt Haryasz received foul number three within the first fifteen seconds. Peter Prowitt was soon whistled for his third. With Stanford's interior wearing thin, Benson single-handedly kept Cal in the game, scoring twelve points before anyone else in a yellow jersey did in the second half.
Benson's jumper at 16:19 cut the lead to ten at 39-29. Again, the Card responded immediately as Rob Little got an offensive rebound and laid the ball in for two. After Haryasz was called for his fourth foul, Benson's free throw brought the margin back to ten. Little then created some déjà vu. Just like the last time Benson brought the Bears within ten, he followed a Robinson miss with a basket, pushing the lead back to twelve. After that, the Bears would not come any closer than eleven points.
Coach Johnson used a lineup consisting of Little-Robinson-Grunfeld-Hernandez for much of the second half. With Stanford on cruise control, the Bears never seriously threatened. However, the Card failed to truly step on Oski's not-visible-below-the-ugly-cardigan throat. Stanford did turn the ball over fourteen times in the entire game (seven in each half), although nobody expected a pretty game. The Cardinal was an outstanding 7-15 from long range (46.7%). They actually shot better from three than from the rest of the field, finishing the game with a field goal percentage of 42.3. If the Card has bucked their shooting woes that ailed them early in the season, the two performances against WSU and ASU might just be anomalies.
Chris Hernandez's 19 points led the Cardinal. His 38 minutes was equaled by Nick Robinson, who added 11 points. Both Robinson and Little tacitly played solid games on both ends of the court. Little scored sixteen points and eleven rebounds (three offensive). Grunfeld, the other half of might be one of the best guard duos in the Pac-10, added 16 points but struggled at the free throw line, going 4-8.
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