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Three in a row: Cardinal heats up with victory over Washington

With the fans at Maples Pavilion warming up the atmosphere in preparation for top-ranked Arizona’s arrival in less than two weeks, junior guard Chasson Randle put on his dancing shoes, whirling and twirling his way to a career-high tying 33 points in a Stanford 79-67 victory against the Washington Huskies on Saturday night.

Randle, Stanford’s leading scorer this season, carried the Cardinal (12-5, 3-2 Pac-12) offensively for large stretches of the game, putting his supreme ball-handling and finishing skills on full display with repeated scoring drives to the basket. Washington (11-8, 3-3) simply had no answer defensively, and, as a result, Stanford was able to slowly pull away. It was Stanford’s third consecutive strong performance after a disappointing loss to Oregon State on Jan. 9.

Junior guard Chasson Randle scored a career-high-tying 33 points during Stanford's victory against Washington, proving his position as the team's leading scorer for the season. (ZETONG LI/The Stanford Daily)

Junior guard Chasson Randle (above) scored a career-high-tying 33 points during Stanford’s victory against Washington, proving his position as the season’s leading scorer. (ZETONG LI/The Stanford Daily)

Senior forwards Dwight Powell and Josh Huestis were again solid for the Cardinal in victory, with each contributing a double-double. Although Powell was plagued by the turnover bug, coughing the ball up six times, he did finish with 17 points, 10 rebounds and three assists.

Huestis added a turnover-free 13-point, 10-rebound performance, while also contributing two highlight-reel blocks that delighted the crowd. The second block moved him past Robin Lopez ’10 for second place all time on the Stanford career blocks list. He needs just 11 more to pass Tim Young and become the all-time leader in school history.

In defeat, Washington received 17 points, seven rebounds and six assists from freshman point guard Nigel Williams-Goss, who showed why he was a McDonald’s All-American coming out of high school. Shawn Kemp, Jr., son of the former Seattle SuperSonics star, added 13 points and six rebounds off the bench for the Huskies in the losing effort.

Star guard C.J. Wilcox, who came into the matchup averaging 20.3 points per game, was held in check by Stanford’s Anthony Brown and the rest of the Cardinal defense. Wilcox tallied just nine points of 4-of-13 shooting, marking the first time this season that the All-Pac-12 performer was held to scoring single digits.

“He’s one of the best players in our league,” said Stanford coach Johnny Dawkins. “I thought the thing we did well was we identified him, we tried to find him as soon as he came across half court … I thought our guys did a really good job of that.”

Stanford was hot from the outset, as it shot 54.2 percent in the first half while also getting to the line 17 times. Randle’s layup two minutes and 18 seconds into the game gave the Cardinal a 7-5 lead, one that it would not relinquish for the rest of the game.

In the second half, the Cardinal was largely successful in repeating its strategy from the first half by aggressively attacking the basket, shooting an identical 13-of-24 from the field while reaching the line 17 times. Randle was particularly phenomenal in the second frame, shooting 7-of-8 from the floor and 4-of-7 from the line for a 19-point second half. His deep 3-pointer with 13:40 to play that left his hand just before the shot clock expired salvaged a terrible offensive possession for the Cardinal and brought the crowd to its feet, capping a night when Randle could do no wrong.

“We’re a ground-and-pound team, whether it’s hitting the post or driving the basketball,” said Randle, who was also quick to credit his teammates. “I think we played like men tonight. We were aggressive on both ends of the floor.”

The win for Stanford moved the Cardinal back over .500 in conference play and marked Stanford’s first three-game conference win streak since Jan. 27-Feb. 3 of last season, when consecutive wins against Utah, Oregon and Oregon State also brought Stanford back over .500. This time around, the Cardinal is hoping that the team’s momentum will continue to carry it as Stanford hits the road this week to take on UCLA and USC.

The win over Washington moves the Cardinal into a tie for fourth place in the conference with its upcoming opponent, the Bruins of UCLA. A successful week in Los Angeles could set up a marquee showdown against top-ranked Arizona on Jan. 29, the likes of which haven’t been seen in Maples Pavilion during the Johnny Dawkins era.

First, the Cardinal must take care of business down South, and Stanford knows that UCLA is no easy task.

Contact Daniel E. Lupin at delupin ‘at’ stanford.edu.