Despite a lackluster first half, Stanford men’s basketball, fueled by a 20-0 scoring run, secured a 73-62 victory against Montana on Wednesday to open the 2019-20 season. The battle against the Grizzlies was the collegiate debut for four Cardinal players, including redshirt freshman center Keenan Fitzmorris.
The opening minutes of the game looked bleak for the Cardinal as Montana took control of the tip and posted an early 2-0 lead thanks to an elbow jumper from Sayeed Pridgett. Nearly three minutes passed before Stanford managed to answer, with the first Cardinal points coming from a dunk by Oscar da Silva. The paint remained familiar to da Silva throughout the night, as he finished seven-of-ten with a team-high 21 total points. On the defensive side, the 6-9 junior forward also snagged four rebounds.
“It’s just great to be back in Maples, really,” da Silva said of the opening matchup. “It’s been a long offseason, and it really doesn’t matter who scored the most points. Today was about the team.”
Following da Silva as top scorers were guards Tyrell Terry and Bryce Wills, who tallied 13 and 11 points for the Cardinal, respectively. Terry, a four-star recruit from Minneapolis, is the second Stanford freshman to have a double-digit debut in the last two seasons. Last year’s season opener featured a 16-point performance from guard Cormac Ryan, who transferred to Notre Dame this summer.
Aside from the trio, however, the Cardinal’s shooting wavered in quality and consistency throughout the first 20 minutes of action. Stanford jogged away at the half having shot 10-for-22 from the field, though Montana was not any luckier with its 11-for-25 stat line.
“[W]e started off pretty sloppy,” da Silva said of the team’s first half performance. “We didn’t really execute what we needed to execute.”
Nonetheless, the Cardinal that returned to the court after the break showed no eagerness to repeat the beginning’s struggles. Twenty unanswered points by Stanford, including two three-pointers by freshman Spencer Jones, quickly stretched the Cardinal’s lead from 40-38 to 60-38. Against the Grizzlies, the 6-7 forward netted three shots from behind the arc, going three-for-seven for a total of nine points.
“I don’t need guys that take shots, I need guys that make shots,” said Stanford head coach Jerod Haase. “And [Jones] is a shot maker.”
Up next for Haase, who is beginning his fourth year as Stanford’s Anne and Tony Joseph Director of Men’s Basketball, and the Cardinal is Cal State Fullerton (0-1, 0-0 Big West) on Saturday. The basketball action tips off at 8 p.m. from Maples Pavilion.
Contact Savanna Stewart at savnstew ‘at’ stanford.edu.