Senior forward Oscar da Silva has had a number of critical performances for Stanford men’s basketball (9-5, 5-3 Pac-12), but perhaps none were more crucial than his 26-point effort against UCLA (11-3, 8-1 Pac-12) on Saturday. A layup at the overtime buzzer by da Silva solidified a 73-72 Cardinal victory and handed the Bruins’ their first loss in Pac-12 play.
“One of the things we’re doing right now as a team is not getting too high or too low at any point,” head coach Jerod Haase said following the victory. “But there’s certainly a great deal of pride and excitement at what is going on right now.”
With back-to-back losses preceding Stanford’s appearance against UCLA, whether the Cardinal would have enough momentum to overcome a team that entered the contest on a seven-game win streak was a looming question.
To add insult to injury, Stanford lacked three of its five regular starters — senior guard Daejon Davis, junior guard Bryce Wills and freshman forward Ziaire Williams — due to injuries and was forced to host the designated home game at a glorified neutral site at the Kaiser Permanente Arena in Santa Cruz.
From the get-go, it was clear that Stanford’s expected challenges were not going to hamper the enthusiasm of the Cardinal’s remaining upperclassmen. UCLA’s junior guard Jules Bernard secured the tip for the Bruins, but Stanford’s junior forward Jaiden Delaire wasted little time getting the Cardinal on the board, pulling up for a three-pointer after reeling in a defensive rebound on the other end following the Bruins’ unsuccessful opening possession.
Following Delaire’s example, the Cardinal charged ahead to an 11-point lead 11 minutes into the first half, relying on UCLA’s shooting struggles and discomfort on the unfamiliar court to stretch the gap. While Stanford has now had five games in Santa Cruz to grow accustomed to Kaiser Permanente Arena, it is a far cry from the Maples Pavilion that Pac-12 opponents know.
The Bruins were reluctant to let the game escape them, and a trio of three-pointers with seven minutes to go before the half brought the Cardinal back within reach. Two of the triples came from UCLA’s Johnny Juzang, a 6-foot-6 sophomore guard, who wreaked havoc on the Stanford defense with a career-high 27 points. Eighteen of Juzang’s points came before the break, helping send the teams to the locker rooms at halftime tied 27-27.
On the Cardinal’s side of the fight, Delaire went on to score an additional 16 points for Stanford in his 39 minutes on the court, recording the team’s second-highest contribution behind da Silva’s 26. Bumping his average up to a conference-leading 19.8 points per game, Saturday marked da Silva’s seventh 20-point effort this season. Six of Delaire’s points came at the charity stripe, where he shot 75%, and where 20 total fouls by the Bruins gave Stanford ample opportunities to acquire 20 uncontested points on 24 attempts.
Da Silva also picked up a generous nine points at the free-throw line, shooting a perfect 100% on nine attempts. From the field, he capitalized on 8-of-15, including one from behind the arc.
His most important bucket was undoubtedly the final one of the night.
Two free throws by sophomore forward Spencer Jones put the Cardinal up 58-56 with just 42 seconds left to go in a neck-and-neck second half, but a jumper by UCLA’s redshirt-sophomore guard Tyger Campbell on the answering possession sent the teams to overtime. The back-and-forth battle continued well into the extra time, with Stanford briefly pulling away by six with just under two minutes to play.
Campbell held on especially tightly, however, answering a free throw by Delaire with a layup and picking up the foul in the process. Sinking the free throw, Campbell put the Bruins up one with just five seconds remaining, and a Bruins block on a Delaire jumper sent the ball out-of-bounds with just 0.8 seconds on the clock.
An inbounds lob to da Silva cutting through the key and the instantaneous layup by the senior that followed was exactly what the Cardinal needed to snatch the victory from the Bruins’ hands.
“‘I gotta get a bucket,'” da Silva said, referring to his thoughts immediately before he sank the game-winner. “We ran that play where I was supposed to get a lob, and [UCLA] was aware of that.”
“I waited a little longer, and then that space under the basket opened up and I went and tried to lay it up as quickly as I could,” he added.
With the win, Stanford moves to 5-3 in the conference, snaps its two-game losing streak and celebrates being the only Pac-12 team thus far to send the Bruins home with a loss. Next up for the Cardinal is a road trip to face Arizona on Thursday.
Contact Savanna Stewart at savnstew ‘at’ stanford.edu.