By Stephen Ren
Basketball season is just around the corner, and the Stanford men’s basketball team played its preseason exhibition game against the Sonoma State Seawolves yesterday, taking the win with a final score of 75-59.
Stanford won the tip and immediately transitioned into their motion offense. As the ball swung around, sophomore forward Oscar Da Silva was left open in the corner, who hit the three and drew a foul to immediately open up the game. The Cardinal also showed hustle early on defense when senior center Josh Sharma dove on the floor for a loose ball on the very next play, which resulted in another foul against Sonoma State.
Four minutes into the first half, Stanford got into their rhythm as freshman guard Cormac Ryan found sophomore point guard Daejon Davis cutting to the block from the wing. The Cardinal’s good ball movement continued in the next possession, leaving Ryan open in the corner for a three. Davis showed off his court awareness. He penetrated from the top of the key to the right elbow, drawing in two Seawolves defenders, leaving Sharma open at the block for a lob and throwdown. Stanford led 10-5.
The Seawolves answered back with three consecutive buckets in the low post. However, their momentum was quickly halted as Stanford’s defense clamped down. Sophomore forward Kz Okpala put on tough pressure at half court, resulting in a steal and dunk the other way. Soon after, Da Silva sent the shot of Seawolves’ guard Aaron Porcil flying out of bounds.
The Seawolves got into foul trouble early, sending Ryan to the line for one and one with 11 minutes remaining in the half. He nailed both free throws, and the Cardinal lead extended to 19-14. Ryan was fouled again the next time down, but Sonoma State capitalized on the missed free throw with a quick three as they pushed it down the court.
With six minutes left in the half, Sonoma State called a time out. They came out of the break blazing hot, going on an 8-0 run and taking the lead 32-25.
Stanford took back the lead, 34-32, when Okpala found Davis open in the corner for a three.
In the last minute of the half, Ryan grabbed the board off a missed jumper from Seawolves and pushed it hard down the court, which resulted in two free throws as he was fouled going up for the layup. Stanford was up 36-32 heading into halftime.
Defense was a huge factor for the Cardinal in this game, and Stanford came out of the half and made their defensive presence felt. After having the ball stripped from him at half court, Davis hustled back for the rejection on the other end, swatting the ball off the backboard. In the next Seawolf possession, Sharma made a huge block in the paint.
Sparked by these stops, Stanford went on a run. Da Silva found a cutting Davis from the corner. Alone in the paint, Davis elevated for a monster slam. A few possessions later, Sharma threw down a dunk as well. Stanford led 43-35.
With 16 minutes left to play, Sonoma State answered back once again with guard Mason Philips hitting a three, cutting Stanford’s lead to five, 43-38.
In the next few possessions Stanford and Sonoma State went head to head, trading points in a shootout. The Seawolves struck first with a quick layup after a touchdown pass from forward Jordan Hickman at half court. Okpala answered with a beautiful reverse the other way. The Seawolves’ guard Lewayne Grand made an assist in traffic to find Hickman for another deuce. However, Stanford had the last word in the exchange. Junior forward Trevor Stanback answered back with an exclamation point, throwing down a dunk in the paint for the Cardinal as two Seawolves ducked out of the way, unwilling to be posterized. Stanford remained five points ahead, 47-42.
In the last 10 minutes of the game, the Cardinal began to pull away. Head Coach Jerod Hasse credited this to the team’s defense, which made it difficult for the Seawolves to get back into a rhythm, forcing bad shots and turnovers.
“We had better energy defensively, which was the biggest thing lacking [in the first half].”
Okpala finished with a game high 20 points to go along with four rebounds and two steals. Da Silva was one rebound short of a double-double, finishing with 14 points, nine rebounds and one assist. Davis racked up 16 points, three boards and two assists.
The Cardinal will open up their season against Seattle University next Tuesday at 7 p.m. EST.
Contact Stephen Ren at rensteph ‘at’ stanford.edu