With little room for error left on the schedule following Stanford’s near-miss loss to Arizona on Thursday, the Cardinal men’s basketball team’s two best players came up big when needed most, as the Cardinal defeated the Arizona State Sun Devils 76-70 on Saturday afternoon. After a slow start to the game that saw Stanford (14-7, 5-4 Pac-12) trail the Sun Devils (16-6, 5-4) by as much as 6 points, senior forward Dwight Powell and junior guard Chasson Randle dominated the second half to help Stanford come away with the victory.
Powell matched a season high with 28 points on 8-of-19 shooting in addition to a 10-of-12 effort from the foul line. Randle added 21 points in the victory, with 15 coming in the second half.
Much like the game against Arizona, a 1-point game at the half turned into a sizable Stanford lead after a large Cardinal run opened the second period. Stanford began the half on a 23-9 run to open up a 13-point lead, 55-42, with 12:14 remaining in the game. Powell and Randle scored 21 of the team’s 23 points during the stretch, and Powell assisted on the only other Stanford basket during the run — a Josh Huestis dunk off of an inbounds pass.
“We were pretty close at half, and we knew we had to come out the first four minutes and create some separation, because they’re obviously a great team and we’re going to fight regardless of what the score was,” Powell said. “We definitely came out with an aggressive mindset to start off the second half.”
Unlike the Arizona game, Stanford was able to hang on to its lead this time around despite the best efforts of Arizona State’s backcourt. Sophomore Jahii Carson, who looks to be a lottery pick in next year’s NBA Draft, and senior Jermaine Marshall, a prolific 3-point shooter, combined for 46 of Arizona State’s 70 points, including 28 in the second half.
Despite picking up his fourth foul with 10:48 remaining, Carson returned to the game with about eight minutes left and rallied the Sun Devils. He scored seven points over the final 5:29 of the game, including a big 3-pointer to draw ASU within five with 3:15 remaining.
“[Carson’s] a great player,” Randle said. “He’s so quick and able to change directions at the drop of a dime.”
“That was definitely a big motivator for me,” said Randle of Carson’s 34-point performance in last year’s Pac-12 Tournament game between Stanford and ASU. “I definitely didn’t play as well as I wanted to, so we definitely wanted to come out tonight and get the win.”
Stanford still held a 70-62 lead with 1:18 remaining after senior Stefan Nastic made one of two free throws, but the Sun Devils, with some assistance from the Cardinal, did their best to make things interesting.
Carson came flying down the court to score a layup just three seconds later. On the inbounds, Powell threw the ball off of senior Anthony Brown’s leg out of bounds, giving ASU possession again with 1:12 remaining. Marshall hit a 3-pointer just three seconds after the turnover, and just like that, ASU was back within a possession with more than a minute left to play.
This time around, however, the Cardinal did not let the opportunity slip out of its hands, as Powell was fouled on Stanford’s next possession after a strong drive to the hoop. After Powell made one free throw, the Cardinal played good defense on the ensuing possession, forcing a tough 3-point attempt by Carson. Huestis made both of his free throws on the next trip down for Stanford, and the threat was successfully stamped out.
Stanford was able to maintain control of this game by dominating the paint, as it outrebounded ASU 40-32 en route to collecting 15 offensive rebounds. The Cardinal also outscored the Sun Devils 28-12 in the paint and recorded five blocks to ASU’s two.
Looking ahead, Stanford begins a crucial stretch on the road when it plays at Cal on Wednesday. This year marks the third straight season that Stanford has reached the halfway point of the conference season with a 5-4 record, and the Cardinal hopes that the outcome will be better this time around.
“To have a really successful conference season, you have to be able to go on the road and have some success,” said head coach Johnny Dawkins. “It’s going to be important for us to go out there focused and compete well. If we do that, we’re going to give ourselves a chance.”
Stanford will travel to Berkeley on Wednesday to take on the Bears at 6 p.m.
Contact Daniel E. Lupin at delupin ‘at’ stanford.edu.