By Quinn Barry
With three seconds on the game clock, it looked like BYU sophomore TJ Haws would complete one of the best comebacks in college basketball this season. Luckily for the Cardinal, though, his three point shot hit rim.
Stanford men’s basketball (19-15) advance to the second round of the NIT by a hair, defeating BYU (24-10) 86-83 on Wednesday night in Maples.
The Cougars, down 10 with 36 seconds left in the ballgame, mounted an incredible rally in the final thirty seconds of the NIT opener. After closing the deficit to five, Haws stole the inbound pass from freshman Daejon Davis. He then found junior Elijah Bryant, who scored 28 points on 11-20 shooting, behind the arc. Bryant splashed a contested three to reduce the Cardinal lead to just two, 85-83.
On the ensuing possession, the Cougars fouled Davis and forced Stanford to make both free throws to ice the game. The Washington-native hit just one. With no fouls to give, freshman KZ Okpala smartly hacked Bryant as he tried to advance the ball with five seconds left. That put the junior at the line for two shots with BYU down three. After Bryant missed the first, he purposefully bricked his second attempt and but the Cougars secured the board and threw it back to Haws for his potential game-tying attempt.
Haws’ miss ends BYU’s season and extends Stanford’s for one more game.
Until the final minute, the seniors showed out against the Cougars. Forwards Reid Travis and Michael Humphrey reached double-doubles by the third quarter (The NIT is experimenting with using four quarters as opposed to two halves), as Stanford out-rebounded BYU 47-37.
Travis (25 points, 14 rebounds) was unstoppable in the paint. On one sequence in the third, he shook sophomore forward Payton Dastrup loose off the dribble, missed the open lay-up, but fought and pulled in the rebound. On the follow, he went under the basket and threw up a reverse lay-up that found its way to the hole. With seven minutes remaining in the fourth, Travis threw down his biggest poster of the year, putting Stanford up by 11 and bringing the Maples faithful to their feet.
Michael Humphrey brought an infectious energy on both ends of the floor in his final home game, He pulled down eight rebounds in the first quarter alone and posted 11 points and 14 rebounds overall. After denying a BYU guard in the first quarter at the rim, he threw a three-quarters court pass to fellow senior Dorian Pickers for an easy slam. Pickens himself was a strong contributor to the Cardinal victory, knocking down two threes and netting 17 points.
After the game, Humphrey reflected on the fact that this could be his final game at Maples. “It’s great to keep winning, it still hasn’t hit me that that was possibly the last game at Maples. It’s really meant a lot the last four years here.”
The contest went back and forth in the 2nd quarter, with Stanford’s sloppiness and turnovers fueling a 10-0 BYU run. Tough plays by freshman Oscar Da Silva and Reid Travis down low, and a perfect pass from freshman Daejon Davis to Da Silva in the paint helped narrow the deficit to just four as buzzer sounded.
Seven straight Stanford points to start the third (all from the paint) put the Cardinal up three. Despite a few scares, they would never relinquish that lead. And with time running out in the third, the Davis-Da Silva connection paid dividends for the second straight quarter. Davis dished the rock to Da Silva with three on the shot clock and seven left in the period, and the German fired up a high-arcing three that banked in. Outscoring the Cougars by 13 in the third, Stanford entered the final period up nine.
Reid Travis, in post-game interviews, noted that Stanford’s streaky fourth quarter resembled Stanford’s last-minute wins against Washington State, Arizona State and USC.
“We’ve been put in that position many times throughout this season, with buzzer-beaters, [the score] going up and down, and stuff like that. For us its continuing to learn that we can’t keep look at the clock and look at the scoreboard. We need to keep playing [and] stay aggressive on defense.”
The Cardinal will travel to second-seed Oklahoma State as they try to advance further in the NIT. Stanford head coach Jerod Haase is looking forward to a trip to Stillwater, for the culture as much as the basketball. Asked for a few comments about the Cowboys, Coach Haase responded, “Eskimo Joe’s is there!”
With tip-off at 4 p.m. PT on Monday March 19, the Cardinal players will have plenty of time to down Eskimo Joe’s World Famous Cheese Fries and Classic Southwest Chicken sandwich before gametime. The contest will be streamed live on NCAA.com
Contact Quinn Barry at qmbarry ‘at’ stanford.edu.