Junior Josh Huestis tallied his eighth double-double of the season while recording a team-high 20 points and Stanford beat Oregon State 82-72 on the road to make it back to .500 in the Pac-12 with just four conference games left to play.
It was a battle of opposites down low for much of the night. Huestis’ slim frame and expansive Afro prevailed over Oregon State star Joe Burton’s mass and Mr. T style haircut to lead the Cardinal (16-11, 7-7 Pac-12) to a win.
It certainly wasn’t easy. Burton dominated early with 12 first-half points on a slew of hook shots and drives, drawing two early fouls from junior Dwight Powell, who played through early foul trouble to finish with 14 points and 11 boards.
But a swarming Stanford defense held Burton to only four points in the second half. Heustis took over at that point, shooting efficiently from both the field (7-13) and and the free throw line (6-8) in the game.
On the other side, Roberto Nelson of Oregon State (13-14, 3-11) worked his hardest to keep the Beavers in the game. While he did little for the team outside of scoring—and was a particularly inefficient 10-26 from the field—he hit several tough shots and came alive in the second half en route to a game-high 28 points
With few outside of Nelson and Burton giving the Beavers anything to work with, Stanford led for almost the entire half, but just barely. A Nelson jump shot made it 35-34 Cardinal heading into the break.
The back-and-forth affair continued for the first few minutes of the second half before a mini-run by Stanford gave the Card a bit of breathing room with 15 minutes to play.
But that too, was short-lived, as the Beavers roared back with two quick scores from Nelson brought the back down to two just moments later.
Then neither team seemed to be able to gain any kind of edge, with Aaron Bright heating up for a while and Huestis getting back involved only to be matched by Nelson—he had 19 in the half.
A three-pointer from Bright with under two minutes to play proved a dagger, however, pushing the lead up to seven and forcing Oregon State to foul the Cardinal in the final minute. After not attempting a shot from the charity stripe in the first half, Stanford hit its free throws down the stretch and walked out of Gill Coliseum with just its fourth road victory of the season.
The main advantage for the Cardinal came in its balance. All five starters finished with double figures in scoring, while only three from Oregon State did.
Not only did the balance come in scoring, but also in simply taking shots. Three starters had 11 shots, while only Huestis put it up more, with 13 shots on the night.
The Beavers were also done in by abysmal shooting from behind the three-point arc as Nelson went just 1-9 and the team a mere 2-15.
Stanford is now 7-7 in the Pac-12, moving closer to the top teams with five games remaining. While they did not pass anyone in the standings with the win, which also completed a season sweep of the Beavers, there is a cluster of teams ahead of them with five and six losses.
The Card has a chance to build more momentum when it takes on No. 23 Oregon—tied for first in the Pac-12—on Saturday. The game will tipoff at 5 p.m. from Eugene, Ore.
Contact David Perez Bradford at davidp3 ‘at’ stanford.edu.