With five players in double-digits, there was little stopping Stanford men’s basketball (7-3, 3-1 Pac-12) from cruising to a 91-75 victory over Washington (1-8, 0-4 Pac-12) on Thursday. A triple-double performance by freshman forward Ziaire Williams paved the way for the Cardinal en route to its second consecutive victory.
With 12 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists, Williams’ contributions mark the first time since Jan. 25, 2007 — and just the second time in program history — that a Stanford player has achieved the feat. Brook Lopez was the last to do so, though Lopez’s triple-double was achieved with 18 points and 11 rebounds to go along with a school-record 12 blocks.
While the accomplishment is undoubtedly a major one for Williams, he sees it as just one example of the ways in which he is continuing to improve his game as he adjusts to the collegiate level of play.
“I still feel like I haven’t reached my full potential,” Williams said. “I still feel like I have two, three, four, even five more levels I could get to.”
Fortunately for Williams and the other four freshmen who have recently earned praise for competing in the absence of multiple starters, Stanford’s roster is loaded with talented upperclassmen whose experience and success at the Division I level can help guide the rookies. Though senior Daejon Davis and junior Bryce Wills, both guards, remained on the sideline Thursday due to leg and knee injuries, respectively, senior forward Oscar da Silva added a generous 17 points to Stanford’s side of the fight, while junior forward Jaiden Delaire recorded 21 of his own.
It was the second time this week that Delaire dominated on offense; Stanford relied on 19 points from the 6-foot-9 forward to secure the victory in Monday’s matchup against Oregon State. In both competitions, Delaire also reeled in nine rebounds to accompany his scoring efforts.
“He’s producing at a high level,” said head coach Jerod Haase of Delaire. “[He is] scoring the ball, rebounding the basketball, makes a lot of good things happen.”
“But I do want [Delaire] to continue to compete as hard as he can,” Haase added. “And better things are still in store for him.”
Joining Williams, Delaire and da Silva in double-digits on offense was sophomore forward Spencer Jones and freshman guard Michael O’Connell. Jones’ 18 points against the Huskies ties the sophomore’s career high from a Jan. 18, 2020 matchup against USC.
Starting in place of Davis for a second consecutive game, O’Connell notched 11 points as floor general on a 3-for-7 effort from the field and a 4-for-4 showing at the foul line. Also for the second consecutive game, the freshman avoided committing a single turnover despite being in the action for an impressive 36 minutes.
The team as a whole did not fare so well in the same department, however. Twenty-two total turnovers blemished the Cardinal’s stats sheet and helped hand the Huskies 21 points off the errors. Williams’ inexperience — masked by his consistently impressive offensive performances and ability to crash the boards — was on full display in the seven turnovers he had to his name by the end of the night.
Because of the ample scoring opportunities that Stanford’s 22 turnovers so recklessly offered the Huskies, intense Cardinal defense was critical in the pursuit of victory. Dubbed the No. 16 best scoring defense in the nation during the 2019-20 season, the Cardinal managed to largely paralyze Washington from the field during the first half as the Huskies shot 8-for-28 (28.57%) from the field in the first half. Even Washington’s dynamic senior guard Quade Green was limited to 15 points on a 7-for-20 effort from the field and a 1-for-6 nightmare at the foul line.
Sophomore guard Marcus Tsohonis ultimately topped the Huskies’ offensive stats, but his 24-point night was not enough to reverse the damage done by Stanford’s five double-digit performers.
With one Washington foe in the rearview, there’s one to go for Stanford men’s basketball. The Cardinal is set to take on WSU on Saturday at 2 pm PT in Santa Cruz. Kaiser Permanente Arena has served as Stanford’s home away from home as COVID-19 restrictions continue to ban contact sports within Santa Clara County.
Contact Savanna Stewart at savnstew ‘at’ stanford.edu.