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M. Basketball: Second-half collapse dooms Cardinal in surprising loss to Washington State

Senior forward Josh Owens was perfect from the floor, but his 19 points weren’t enough for Stanford in Thursday’s 81-69 loss to Washington State. (IAN GARCIA-DOTY/The Stanford Daily)

With Josh Owens hitting all of his shots as Washington State struggled to score at all, Stanford’s men’s basketball team appeared to be on its way to its fourth win in a row. But the Cougars heated up just as the Cardinal went ice-cold and Stanford’s 13-point lead evaporated in the second half of an 81-69 upset loss on Thursday night.

 
The loss dropped the Cardinal (15-4, 5-2 Pac-12) out of a first-place tie in the conference, but will likely sting Stanford even more if coach Johnny Dawkins’ team cannot fix its mistakes with road tests against tougher opponents on the horizon.

 

Against one of the better defenses in the Pac-12, Stanford came out hitting shots. Redshirt senior Owens was having his way on the low block, and scored 10 points on 5-5 shooting in the first half as the Cougars (10-8, 2-4) had no answer.

 

After hitting eight of its first 14 shots, however, the Cardinal began to struggle from the field. Sophomore Aaron Bright had a tough shooting night, making just two of his 12 shots and going 1-8 from behind the three-point arc.

 

As a team, Stanford went 5-15 to close out the half, but still held a slim 29-27 lead at the break thanks to a five-minute stretch in which the Cougars did not score.

 

When the teams returned from the locker room, however, it seemed as though the Cardinal had regained its offensive rhythm. A flurry of three-pointers — with two in a row from freshman guard Chasson Randle — stretched Stanford’s lead to 42-29 with 16:56 remaining. And a three-point play from Owens gave the Cardinal a 10-point lead with just over 13 minutes to go in the game.

 

That’s when Washington State — keyed by guard Faisal Aden — absolutely caught fire.

 

It took just three minutes for Stanford’s double-digit advantage to vanish entirely, as the Cougars outscored the Cardinal 12-1 and hit field goals on five consecutive offensive trips.

 

Aden scored 14 points in the next seven minutes — and 10 straight for his team at one point — taking over the game as part of his 33-point night for which Stanford had no answer.

 

Although the Cardinal kept the game relatively close, no one on the floor could buy a basket, going 0-10 from the field over an 11-minute stretch in the second half and shooting just 36 percent down to the buzzer.

 

Owens finished with 19 points, and Randle added 15, but no one else scored in double figures for Stanford.

 

What really carried Washington State was its free throw shooting, as Aden went 13-13 to help the Cougars shoot 27-29 from the charity stripe. Seven consecutive made free throws salted the game away in the final minute as Ken Boone’s team snapped a three-game losing streak in front of an announced crowd of 3,119 that was actually much smaller due to hazardous weather in the area.

 

Stanford will look to get things back on track on Saturday afternoon from Seattle as they take on Washington, which lost a tight 69-66 contest against Pac-12 leader California on Thursday night.

About Miles Bennett-Smith

Miles Bennett-Smith is Chief Operating Officer at The Daily. An avid sports fan from Penryn, Calif., Miles graduated in 2013 with a Bachelor's degree in American Studies. He has previously served as the Editor in Chief and President at The Daily. He has also worked as a reporter for The Sacramento Bee. Email him at eic@stanforddaily.com