In a scene all too reminiscent of recent seasons for the Stanford men’s basketball team, dumb fouls, costly turnovers and even worse defense proved to be too much for the Cardinal to overcome against a talented BYU team, as the men of Maples fell to the visitors 112-103.
Despite another virtuoso offensive performance by junior guard Chasson Randle, who finished with a career-high 33 points on 12-of-23 shooting, and a strong outing from senior forward Dwight Powell, who added 28 on 10 of 15 from the floor, Stanford’s porous defense failed it again and again.
“I’m not looking at the numbers, I’m just looking at the L at the end of the day,” said Randle of his career-high night. “We have to figure out what we have to do to get the win on Thursday.”
The Cardinal failed to get any closer than a halftime deficit of 8 points in the second half. Stanford was never able to come up with the stops necessary to get itself back into the game.
“Give them a lot of credit,” said head coach Johnny Dawkins. “They shot the ball well. They played with a lot of confidence.”
For a team that had strong NCAA Tournament hopes coming into the season, the lack of defensive focus and effort was an extremely discouraging sign. BYU shot 53.5 percent from the floor for the game, including 53.3 percent from 3-point range. If things don’t change quickly, Dawkins’ tenure at Stanford could come to a close sooner rather than later.
BYU’s offense was humming from the outset, as the Cougars shot 53.7 percent from the floor in the first half, including 55.6 percent from 3-point range. Stanford’s 2-3 zone failed to prevent off-the-dribble penetration and second-chance opportunities for the Cougars, while the Cardinal’s man-to-man defense was slow in its rotation and weak-side help.
Stanford was able to keep it close in the first half by way of its 18 free throw attempts, of which it converted 14. BYU’s low post players posed the biggest problem for the Cardinal in the first half, as forwards Eric Mika and Kyle Collinsworth combined for 21 points and seven rebounds on 8-of-15 shooting.
In the second half, it was BYU guards Matt Carlino and Tyler Haws who took over. After scoring a relatively ho-hum 15 points between them in the first half, BYU’s two leading scorers from last season exploded in the second half. The two guards combined for 42 points in the second frame, helping stretch the Cougars’ lead out to 20 points. Haws finished with 31, while Carlino added 26 in the victory. The two combined to shoot 18 of 34 from the field for the game.
As a result, Stanford’s furious late comeback attempt was too little too late. Credit must be given where credit is due, and it was clear that Stanford never quit on this night, despite being repeatedly thwarted by the hot-handed Cougars.
“I thought our kids kept fighting,” Dawkins said. “Our kids showed no quit. It was just a matter of getting stops.”
Senior forward John Gage had three 3-pointers off the bench in the second half, spurring a comeback attempt that got the Stanford faithful excited but was never really enough to worry BYU. Stanford was never able to draw closer than 9 points, which was the final deficit.
The difference in efficiency between the two teams can best be understood in the final assist and turnover statistics for the game. While Stanford turned it over 16 times and registered just 14 assists on 34 field goals, BYU had more than twice as many assists than turnovers, with 23 and 11 respectively. BYU scored 28 points off of Stanford turnovers, an astonishingly efficient total.
This was the first time an opposing team had scored more than 100 points in a regulation game at Maples Pavilion since 1985, and the first time a team had scored at least 112 points since UCLA did it in February 1977, another Stanford loss.
The Cardinal will look to right the ship on Thursday night against Northwestern, a team Stanford beat a season ago.