The Cougars (6-7, 0-1) started strong against the Cardinal (8-3, 1-0), opening the game with a 8-0 run. WSU led by as many as 10 points with 13:47 left in the first half.
“I thought early in the game we were pretty close to being perfect defensively,” WSU coach Ernie Kent said. “We did an outstanding job of executing the game plan.”
The Cardinal would eventually find their groove and whittled into the deficit with a 10-1 run. Stanford upped their pressure on defense which forced the Cougars to get out of rhythm on offense.
“The game changed when I thought we quick shot the basketball at times,” Kent said. “We had an opportunity to move the ball -- there’s a rhythm to offense that we didn’t take advantage of and consequently it gave them (Stanford) three transition layups. I thought they did a better job of pounding us on the boards.”
Stanford had seven offensive rebounds in the first half which lead to eight second-chance points for the Cardinal.
“We you got a chance to really put a team in the hole you need to put your foot on them and put them in the hole,” Kent said.
Even though Stanford found its mojo late in the first half, the Cougars trailed on 27-24 at halftime. The game was still well within reach.
Stanford senior guard Chasson Randle, the team's leading scorer this season, found his game in the second half. After going 0-for-7 during the first half and scoring just one point, Randle scored the Cardinal's first seven points of the second half. Randle finished the game with 18 points, going 5 of 6 from the field after halftime.
Stanford also began attacking the paint against the Cougars in the second half. Stanford redshirt senior center Stefan Nastic bullied the Cougars inside, scoring 10 points in the second half.
Washington State's shooting woes were evident during the second half, as almost six minutes elapsed before the Cougars scored their first field goal. WSU remained in the game, though, trailing by six with 10:36 left in the game.
The Cougars got no closer, as they missed opportunities with their free throw shooting. The Cougars were 24 of 39 from the foul line.
“We battled hard and through all of that the game came down to free throw shooting,” Kent said. “We’re a much better free throw shooting team. They (the Cardinal) made their's, we didn’t make ours.”
The Cougars conclude their Bay Area trip Sunday when they face California at 3 p.m. PST. The game is televised on the Pac-12 Network.
“I’m proud of them, but at the same time there’s been a lot of moral victories and there will be a lot more moral victories,” Kent said. “When you’re on the road, you got a team on the ropes you need to understand how to put them away and we had a chance.”