The game started off ugly, with Wazzu combining on free throws and long-distance shooting for a 7-0 lead before Julius Barnes hit a trey to get the Card on the board. But the Cougs scrapped right back for four more points, including a Curtis Borchardt goaltending call. 11-3 at the first timeout. The lead grew to 13-3 before JB doubled Stanford's output with another trey. To this point, Stanford had not been able to seize the tremendous height advantage inside, given Wazzu's shallow roster and injuries. But Teyo Johnson got a deuce inside on the offensive end, followed by a Curtis block on the other. Casey joined in the action to attack the soft inside of the Cougar defense by driving the lane, and suddenly the game was tightened up to 13-10. Justin Davis entered the game and immediately made huge contributions. He grabbed an offensive board, got the putback, and then a defensive board on the other end. Curtis added a bucket inside to bring the score to 15-14, Washington State.
Washington State was starting to struggle mightily inside, but they were winning the battle in the backcourt, as 6-6 point guard Marcus Moore was tearing things up. He racked up 13 of Wazzu's first 18 point on 5 of 6 shooting. Monty responded by a change in his own backcourt, substituting Chris Hernandez for Tony Giovacchini. Hernandez at least ignited the offense for Stanford, as he stepped up the pace after Cougar misses. One drive and dish found Justin Davis and tied up the game at 18, the closest margin for Stanford since the 0-0 start. Stanford's perimeter defense still didn't tighten up on Moore, as he drilled another deep three-pointer. Casey answered the challenge to tie it again at 21. Despite the interior advantages, the game picked up more of an outside flavor. Wazzu chucked up (and hit) shots at or outside the arc, which Stanford seemed eager to match. Though I question the strategy that gets away from Stanford's dominant inside advantage, Julius drained his third trey of the first half to give Stanford its first lead, 24-23. One disturbing note that harkens back to other Julius games: Julius was 3 for 3 outside, but missed both of his early interior field goals. You really like to see JB take defenders off the dribble to drive and create.
Stanford's rotation searched for a balance that could seize this game. Josh Childress got in the game, and gave some help on the defensive boards. Rob Little rotated inside, but picked up 3 lightning quick fouls in just a couple minutes of play. The Stanford offense stalled, though, as Wazzu regained the lead and extended it to 28-24. The defense made a couple of stops, or alternatively you could say that Wazzu couldn't put down their shots, which gave Stanford's offense a chance to regain its footing. The inside game emerged again, as Curtis Borchardt and Teyo Johnson scored in back-to-back possessions to tie the game at 28.
The Cougs would take a 30-28 lead, but started to pick up costly fouls. In the span of just a couple minutes, Marcus Moore, who continued to dominate on the offensive end, committed two offensive fouls. One of Washington State's very rare big men, Pawel Stasiak, picked up his third foul as well. Casey Jacobsen put in four three throws during this stretch to help give Stanford a 34-30 lead. That signaled the time for Curtis Borchardt to get aggressive, and he helped the Card to a 37-34 lead at the half. Julius Barnes led the scoring for Stanford at the halfway point, with 11, but all of those came from deep. Three treys and one very long deuce with his foot on the line. Casey and Curtis led the rest of the scoring with 9 each at the half.
To set the tone for the second half, Monty had the ball go to Curtis right off the bat, and he scored easily over the foul-hampered Stasiak for a 39-34 lead, the largest to that point of the game. Curtis provided a big block on the other end, followed by a Teyo score on the inside with a spin-move. The teams then traded tough inside baskets for a 43-36 Stanford lead. Casey Jacobsen drove the lane to attack a Cougar defense on its heels and extended the lead to 9. Paul Graham could see the wheels coming off what was a tight game, and called the timeout to regroup the troops. But Washington State picked up another costly foul, as 6-7 Shaminder Gill, gathered his third foul. Casey added a deuce and Teyo drilled a long trey to extend the lead. 50-36 on a 13-2 run to start the half. After the 16-minute timeout, Curtis Borchardt put back a Julius Barnes lob. Julius gave another assist to Curtis on the next possession, for a 54-36 lead.
As the lead looked to be slipping away, Wazzu hit a couple of critical three-pointers to help close the gap to 54-44. The Cougs had gone to a zone defense, but Stanford looked to penetrate and create. That gave two quick inside buckets, followed by a Julius dunk in transition off a turnover. All of a sudden the lead was back up at 16, 60-44. Stanford already had four players in double-digits, a very good sign for a team that has had a binary set of scorers since the New Year. The teams traded some uneventful baskets and free throws, with WSU again depending on the three-point shot, to put the score at 67-52 at the 8-minute timeout.
Washington State kept chucking up the perimeter shots, though, and closed the gap to 11. Stanford lost chances to push the lead back out as Curtis Borchardt had an awful day at the free throw line (3 for 11!). With just under 3 minutes to go, the Cougs narrowed the lead to 10 points after Borchardt missed the second of two free throws. Stasiak had fouled out of the game, which forced Paul Graham to play only token pressure defense, and then a zone in the base defense. Julius Barnes busted that zone with a three-pointer to end a Stanford scoring drought. The Cougs answered with a mid-range jumper to bring the margin back to 11, but missed an opportunity as Curtis blocked a jumper on their next possession. Stanford closed out the game against a Cougar squad that looked they just didn't have any more fight: 76-63.
Casey Jacobsen continue his aggressive play to lead Stanford in scoring with 24 points, six of them coming at the stripe. Add in 5 boards and 4 assists for the All-American. Curtis had a solid game, free throw nightmare notwithstanding, as he picked up yet another double-double on 19 points and 11 boards, plus 5 huge blocks. Julius Barnes was next in scoring, with 16 points, but hit only 2 of 7 2-point field goals. Teyo Johnson stayed out of foul trouble and had an excellent 11-point game on 5 of 6 shooting from the field. Justin Davis provided some great energy off the bench, but saw his minutes limited by a shoulder injury in the second half when he came down hard on the floor.
In other important Pac-10 news, major developments in an unprecedented tight race at the top. Arizona State upset UCLA at Pauley Pavilion, 69-68. U$C also upended the Mildcats across town at the Sports Arena, 94-89. Both are positive developments for Stanford. The Bruin loss represents a rare loss by one of the top 6 teams to one of the lower 4, and drags them down without adding a W to a competitor. Arizona saw their #1 position in the conference drop like a rock as they came out of LA 0-2 for the weekend. A good thing, too, as these were the last road games of the season for Zona. You couldn't ask for a better weekend in LA for Cardinalmaniacs, except for possibly an improbable ASU upset of the Trojenz.