The Stanford Cardinal (14-17, 6-13 Pac-12) were outscored 17-7 in overtime by the Arizona State Sun Devils (15-17, 8-11 Pac-12) after coming back from a 14-point deficit in a 98-88 loss in the first round of the Pac-12 Men’s Basketball Tournament at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas Wednesday afternoon.
Junior forward Michael Humphrey knocked down a long two-pointer with just seconds to go in regulation to send the game to overtime, but the Sun Devils came out hot in overtime and hit three-pointers on three straight possessions to ultimately knock the Cardinal out of the tournament and move to the quarterfinals.
Arizona State’s starters accounted for 96 of their 98 points as the Sun Devils lit up the Cardinal defense for 50 points in the first half. Senior forward Obinna Oleka led the way for Arizona State, recording a double-double with 27 points and 13 rebounds. Junior guard Tra Holder contributed 21 points for the Sun Devils.
“Obinna is a matchup nightmare for people because of his mobility, quickness and physicality … all the things he brings give us great confidence,” said Arizona State head coach Bobby Hurley.
Stanford’s defense was able to make adjustments at halftime and slow down Arizona State’s blistering pace with a zone defense, holding the Sun Devils to 31 second-half points.
“I thought we were much more competitive or maybe a step quicker in the second half… for whatever reason we were just a step slow in the first half, but when we’re playing a very potent offensive team like that, it gets difficult at times,” said Stanford head coach Jerod Haase.
Stanford was able to move the ball effectively, picking up 23 assists as a team, and the Cardinal offense accumulated their highest scoring total in regulation since blowing out Washington State in early January.
Junior forward Reid Travis was the leading scorer for Stanford, taking advantage of Arizona State’s lack of size for 23 points, including four and-ones. Travis worked in tandem nicely with Humphrey, as Humphrey added 18 points and the two big men combined for 18 rebounds.
“When it comes in a loss it definitely hurts, so it kind of takes a backseat to that, but it’s definitely encouraging going forward to next year to know that we can both put up numbers like that,” said Travis.
The game began with a lot of fast-paced offense, as the teams traded leads while moving and scoring the ball quickly and effectively. But the Cardinal faltered while the Sun Devils stayed hot, and Arizona State held a 36-22 lead after a 13-3 run in the middle of the first half.
Although the Sun Devils seemingly scored at will for the rest of the half, Stanford was able to narrow the gap before halftime with efficient offense, trailing 50-42 at the break.
The Cardinal were able to slow down the Arizona State offense in the second half with halftime defensive adjustments, including a zone defense that seemed to disrupt the Sun Devils’ ball movement.
These adjustments, along with a consistent offensive effort, allowed Stanford to inch their way back into the game late, only trailing 81-77 with just over two minutes left in the game.
Humphrey made a layup with one minute left, and Stanford was able to get a defensive stop before calling a timeout with 25 seconds left to set up their last possession of regulation.
The Cardinal appeared to be in disarray as the clock winded down, but Humphrey was able to corral a pass from senior forward Christian Sanders to knock down a deep two from the top of the key and ultimately send the game to overtime.
While Stanford seemingly had all of the momentum going into the extra period, the Sun Devils did not seem to care, hitting three shots from beyond the arc on three straight possessions to take a 92-84 lead and create a deficit from which the Cardinal ultimately could not recover.
“It shows the character and the determination of my team … to respond and be able to keep playing well and to put them away. It was a tribute to how they’ve been competing and battling this whole Pac-12 season,” said Hurley.
The Sun Devils now move on to face the top-seeded Oregon Ducks in the Pac-12 Tournament quarterfinals at noon Thursday. The Cardinal will finish their season on a four-game losing streak as they now look toward their first full offseason under Jerod Haase.
Contact Samuel Curry at currys ‘at’ stanford.edu.