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Men’s basketball dominates Cal State Northridge in home opener

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Josh Sharma cocks back the ball before an emphatic finish at the rim on Tuesday night in a home opener victory for Stanford. Sharma was 7-10 shooting with 15 points and five rebounds. (RYAN JAE/The Stanford Daily)
Josh Sharma cocks back the ball before an emphatic finish at the rim on Tuesday night in a home opener victory for Stanford. Sharma was 7-10 shooting with 15 points and five rebounds. (RYAN JAE/The Stanford Daily)

In its first home game of the season and new head coach Jerod Hasse’s first home game at Maples Pavilion, Stanford men’s basketball (2-0) impressed, routing Cal State Northridge (1-2) 96-69 in a solid all-around team effort. Five Cardinal players scored in double digits and Stanford dominated all facets of the game.

Leading the pack was junior forward Reid Travis, who led all scorers with 19 points and added five rebounds and one assist. For the CSUN Matadors, junior guard Kendall Smith had a team-high 17 points.

The Stanford offense was clicking on all nearly all cylinders, going 35-for-70 from the field, including 9-for-16 from beyond the arc. The Cardinal spread their scoring evenly, with sophomore guard Marcus Sheffield putting up 17 points, sophomore forward Josh Sharma tallying 15, junior guard/forward Dorian Pickens adding 14 and junior guard Marcus Allen contributing 10.

Stanford moved the ball well too, with six players assisting on between two and four baskets. All together, the team assisted on 18 of its 35 field goals. On the boards, Stanford out-rebounded CSUN 40 to 35, including 14 offensive rebounds, behind a game-high seven rebounds from Pickens. Altogether, Stanford scored a grand 1.16 points per possession and had an impressive 44 bench points. The one obvious room for improvement for the Cardinal was their free throw shooting, as the team shot just 58.6 percent from the charity stripe.

Hasse was also complimentary of the team’s play and especially of Travis’ improved jump shot and free throw stroke.

“His work ethic to change his shot was extremely impressive,” Haase said. “And I’ve been around college basketball for a little while now, and not many players can change their shot once they get to college, and he did it in one summer.”

And building off of Hasse’s focus on hustle, at one point, Travis went crashing into a cameraman and multiple chairs on the baseline after a fast break.

“That’s definitely what [Haase] tries to instill in us,” Travis said. “We’re playing hard. Toughness is one of our standards, so when we get on the court it’s full speed ahead.”

The Stanford defense played well overall, slowing the run-and-gun CSUN, who averaged 91.5 points per game heading into the contest and was coming off an 87-point outing against No.16 UCLA. The Cardinal dominated on the boards, limiting transition opportunities for the Matadors.

Once in the half-court set, Stanford made CSUN uncomfortable with man-to-man pressure and situational trapping of the Matadors’ forwards with double-teams in the post, ultimately forcing 20 turnovers. Only two CSUN players scored in double digits, Smith and junior guard Jerron Wilbut, while the team shot 39 percent from the field and averaged .831 points per possession.

On the trouble that Stanford was able to give CSUN’s big men with the double-teams, Travis said, “we didn’t do it every time, but we feel like if we can mix it up, have post players thinking on their feet, then we’ll be successful.”

Pickens added, “I think at times in the game, we definitely played great defense. That really needs to be one of our identities. And playing tough, playing hard, playing selfless need to be things we pride ourselves on. I think that at times during that game, we did that, but I think that sometimes we had a little dip in that.”

Hasse echoed the inconsistency that Pickens alluded to. Focusing on the “ebbs and flows” on defense, Haase said, “I thought we would go from really, really good defensively to really, really bad defensively, and we might get five stops in a row and then [on] the next four, we’d foul four in a row or they’d score three out of four.”

Both Hasse and the players were excited to start off his Stanford career with a win at Maples. “It means the world to give him a win today at home,”  Travis said.

After the game, Stanford unveiled several new traditions, as players went into the stands and talked with fans, showing an appreciation for those that made it out to the game. After chatting with fans, the team, coaches and cheerleaders came together in a semi-circle, put their arms around each other, and swayed to “Hail, Stanford, Hail,” celebrating the win with the crowd.

While the attendance was reported at 2,801, the arena crowd certainly has room to grow in numbers and volume as the season progresses. However, Hasse was optimistic, saying, “It’s a wonderful starting point, and our goal is to impact however many people — 2,801 — that were here and find a way, if they all bring a friend … if we can get that going, this thing fills up in a hurry.”

Next up, Stanford plays host to Weber State on Thursday at 7 p.m.

 

Contact Jamie MacFarlane at jamiemac ‘at’ stanford.edu.