Anthony Brown turned the ball over on Stanford’s first possession of the game. After that, the senior guard couldn’t do much wrong.
Brown torched the Washington State Cougars (9-16, 2-11 Pac-12) on Saturday afternoon en route to a career-high 30 points, leading the Stanford men’s basketball team to a 69-56 road victory. It was the Cardinal’s first win against the Cougars in Pullman since Feb. 10, 2011, and it also marked the first time Stanford swept the season series against WSU since the 2007-08 season. After the defeat to Washington earlier in the week, the Cardinal knew this was a game it had to have.
“We felt like this game meant more than us than it did to them,” Brown said. “We had a sense of urgency today and came away with the ‘W.’”
Deadly early and often for the Cardinal (16-8, 7-5), Brown scored 20 of his 30 points in the first half. He made all six of his field goal attempts during the opening frame, including all four of his 3-point attempts. Stanford opened the game on a 19-8 run, and it was Brown who was responsible for 14 of those points during the first seven minutes.
The Cardinal used Brown’s terrific first-half performance to stake itself out to a 15-point lead at halftime, one that it would use to coast to its conference-leading sixth road victory of the season. Brown’s first-half performance was the first time a Stanford player had scored 20 points in a half since Dwight Powell scored 20 in the second half against UC-Davis on Dec. 15, 2012.
“I just wanted to be aggressive, coming off the loss against Washington,” Brown said. “I just came out, attacked; they left me open, I got my rhythm going, and then from there, once you hit a few, it feels like the basket is wide open.”
Brown finished the game 8-of-10 from the field, 4-of-6 from beyond the arc and 10-of-11 from the free-throw line. It was easily the best game of his Stanford career, considering how much Stanford struggled to score otherwise.
Junior Chasson Randle added 14 points for Stanford, the only other member of the Cardinal to reach double digits on Saturday. Stanford was able to find success despite by a poor shooting night by attacking the rim and stifling the Cougars’ attempts on the other end. The Cardinal shot 36 free throws to WSU’s 18, and held the Cougars to shooting just 31.4 percent.
Particularly notable on the defensive end for Stanford was the Cardinal’s coverage of WSU’s DaVonte Lacy, an effort that was spearheaded by Brown. Lacy has been an explosive scorer at times this season but was quieted by the Card. Coming off of a career-best 39-point performance against Cal, he was held to just 13 points on 4-of-12 shooting on Saturday.
Freshman Que Johnson finished as the leading scorer for the Cougars with 14 points, but he too struggled from the field, finishing just 4-of-11 from the field.
The win marked the third time this season that Stanford won the second game of its two-game road trip after losing the first, marking the first time that has happened since at least 1978, the first season of Pac-10 play.
Stanford hopes that the solid road victory will spur it forward as the team moves towards the end of the conference season. After the Cardinal takes on USC and No. 23 UCLA this Thursday at Maples Pavilion, Stanford will embark on a four-game stretch in which it will play teams ahead of it in the conference standings: Arizona State and No. 4 Arizona. The Cardinal wraps up the regular season by hosting Colorado and Utah before the Pac-12 Tournament in Las Vegas.
As it stands today, the Cardinal would probably be an NCAA Tournament team. But clearly, there is much work to be done. If Stanford hopes to see its name on the bracket come March, the Trees will have to grow some more and reach even greater heights.
Contact Daniel E. Lupin at delupin ‘at’ stanford.edu.