By Inyoung Choi
Stanford men’s basketball (15-5, 5-3 Pac-12) stunned No. 11 Oregon (18-4, 7-3 Pac-12) 70-60 in front of a home crowd on Saturday night. With the win, Stanford moves to third place in the Pac-12 and ends a three-game conference losing-streak. The loss displaces the Ducks, who formerly led the conference, and USC (17- 4, Pac -12 6-2) overtakes them in the top spot.
After opening Pac-12 play with victories over Cal, Washington, Washington State and UCLA, the Cardinal foreshadowed a stunning rebound from previous lukewarm seasons. What seemed to be the beginning of a new era soon took a discouraging twist, however, with three consecutive losses: to USC on Jan. 18, Cal on Jan. 26 and Oregon State on Thursday.
That all ended Saturday night, as the Cardinal offense found its footing again.
“The thing about the last three games for me is that the way that we lost them really hurt,” said junior forward Oscar da Silva. “Today everything was right in order to play again.”
It wasn’t a surprise that da Silva, whose 0.614 field goal percentage paces Cardinal scoring, secured the first basket for Stanford. Less than three minutes into the game, da Silva netted a layup for the home team, but the junior’s contributions did not stop there. He scored on 5 of 8 field goal attempts, securing 10 of the 28 points Stanford posted in the first 20 minutes of play.
On Oregon’s side, senior guard Payton Pritchard has been breaking records for the formerly top-ranked Pac-12 team and the conference overall. In the Ducks’ previous game, against Cal, Pritchard broke Oregon’s record for career assists with a total of 617. In that same game, he also became the first player in Pac-12 history to reach 1500 career points, 600 career assists and 500 rebounds.
Pritchard is not the only star player for the Ducks. Just last week in a match against USC, junior guard Chris Duarte became the first D1 player in 21 years to record 30 points, 11 rebounds and eight steals in a single game.
“Oregon’s really good,” said Stanford head coach Jerod Haase. “[Pritchard] is absolutely fearless and talented, and they have a really good team. So this is a great day for us.”
The Ducks started the game with a lead. Thirteen seconds after winning the jump ball, sophomore guard Will Richardson scored a layup from under the basket. Shortly after, redshirt senior forward Shakur Juiston followed up with a layup.
Oregon proved to be a formidable opponent. Pritchard, Duarte and sophomore guard Richardson dominated the court offensively and defensively to earn Oregon an 8-point lead at the break.
Just 11-for-30 from the field, Stanford’s first-half shooting success rate hovered around a weak 36.6%. Even worse was the team’s fortune from deep, where only 3 of 14 attempts fell. The performance reflected the team’s recent tendency to start slow on offense, which has, in the last two contests especially, contributed to Stanford’s struggles to finish on top.
The Cardinal, not ready to lose a fourth-straight contest, reappeared after halftime ready to defend their home court and turn the game around in the second half. At first, the second half seemed likely to be a continuation of a slow game; there seemed to be little action for the Cardinal. Just 11-for-30 from the field, Stanford’s first-half shooting success rate hovered around a weak 36.6%. Even worse was the team’s fortune from deep, where only 3 of 14 attempts fell.
But with just over 11 minutes left in the game, sophomore forward Lukas Kisunas snagged a rebound and 2 points after transforming Oregon’s error into a two-hand slam. Soon after, junior guard Isaac White drilled one from behind the arc to shrink to the margin to just 3 (47-44).
Picking up on the momentum, Stanford showcased a strong defense for the next four minutes of the game, as the Cardinal and the Ducks took turns asserting their dominance over the court.
With just over 7 minutes left, Terry complemented on a rebound from sophomore guard Bryce Wills by successfully sinking a 3-pointer. Less than a minute later, Terry took a rebound from Jones and landed another 3-pointer for the Cardinal. With those two baskets, Stanford took a 53-49 lead.
“I think there were a few plays in the second half that really jolted us in a good way,” Haase said. “I think [one of them was] Lukas going up and dunking the basketball. Certainly [Terry’s] back to back three point shots were a big deal.”
In the final minutes of the game, Stanford ran away with it. da Silva made several lay-ups and Wills added several of his own Pritchard narrowed the margin with two triples, but da Silva was quick to answer with a layup. With less than a minute left, Wills made a statement in the form of an uncontested dunk off an assist from Davis. The score was 58-68. Stanford had secured a 10-point lead over Oregon —- its biggest of the night.
The two teams exchanged fouls and free throws in the last few seconds of the game. Terry made both of his, and the final score was 60-70.
“To come and defend our home court in front of a great fan base against a very good team is big for us,” Terry said following his 19th double-digit offensive performance of the year.
The Cardinal will meet Oregon again in the final game of the regular season. Stanford now heads to Salt Lake City to face Utah, as part of its Pac-12 campaign. The game is set for 7 p.m. PT on Thursday.
Contact Inyoung Choi at ichoi ‘at’ stanford.edu.