For one of the first times this season, the offense was clicking for the Stanford men’s basketball team. Unfortunately for the Cardinal (11-10, 4-6 Pac-10), the defense uncharacteristically did not come to play in a 78-69 loss to No. 21 Arizona (19-4, 8-2) on Thursday night. The 78 points represented the third-highest total Stanford has allowed all season, and the Wildcats were the first opponent to break 70 points against the Cardinal since Oklahoma State in mid-December.
Junior guard Jeremy Green led Stanford with 21 points, but he shot only 8-for-21 from the field. Junior forward Josh Owens had 13 points and nine rebounds, while junior guard Jarrett Mann had 11 points, eight rebounds and five assists.
For Arizona, sophomore forward Derrick Williams, who leads the Wildcats in scoring and rebounding, was dominant once again with 21 points and eight rebounds. Sophomore guard Lamont Jones, junior forward Jesse Perry and junior guard Kyle Fogg each reached double digits as well for Arizona, which has now won seven of its past eight games.
In the early going, Stanford appeared frustrated on both ends of the floor. Halfway through the first half, Arizona opened up a nine-point advantage at 26-17, due in large part to Stanford’s foul trouble. In the first half alone, five different Cardinal players–including four starters–picked up two fouls apiece.
With so many of its core players on the bench, Stanford head coach Johnny Dawkins turned to a lineup of Mann and four freshmen–Anthony Brown, John Gage, Aaron Bright and Josh Huestis. Despite the lack of experience on the floor, the gamble paid dividends as the Cardinal went on a run to get back in the game. A three-pointer by Gage capped an 8-0 run that cut the Arizona lead to one.
Spurts were common from both teams, though, and the Wildcats immediately responded with seven straight to bolster the lead back up to eight. Stanford fought back with another 8-0 run, including two more Gage three-pointers, to tie the game at 33. Gage, a freshman from Vashon Island, Wash., has received very limited playing time throughout the season and had made only five field goals all year before his three consecutive three-pointers.
“The one guy who doesn’t play as much who really gave us a spark late in the first half was John Gage,” Dawkins said. “I’m proud of him coming in under those circumstances in this type of a game and really stepping up and playing the way he did.”
After a great defensive possession by Stanford, Fogg hit a three-pointer at the shot-clock buzzer to quiet the crowd, and Perry hit another with four seconds left to give Arizona a 39-33 halftime lead.
With its starting lineup back on the floor, Stanford came out inspired, scoring 12 of the first 13 points of the second half, including an 8-0 run to take its first lead of the game. Green took control, punctuating the run with a coast-to-coast dunk and a layup.
Six minutes into the second half, the Cardinal led, 45-40, and had not allowed a field goal in the half. That turned out to be the last time Stanford would lead all game, as Williams finally broke the string with a putback, part of a 9-0 Wildcat run.
“It was a game of runs throughout the entire night, and unfortunately we didn’t have the opportunity to make the last run,” Dawkins said.
As the second half wore on, the game remained close and the fouls started to pile up again, putting both teams in the bonus with plenty of time remaining. Consecutive layups by freshman forward Dwight Powell–four of his six points for the game–tied the game at 58 with just five minutes to play.
Stanford made only two field goals the rest of the way, though, and the Wildcats made clutch shots down the stretch. While the Cardinal was its usual inconsistent self at the free-throw line, Arizona made all eight of its charity shots in the final 1:23 to secure the victory.
For the game, the Wildcats shot 53 percent from the field, while Stanford shot only 41 percent. The Cardinal had 16 offensive rebounds, which were converted to 22 second-chance points. However, Stanford shot only 6-for-25 from the three-point line, including 1-for-13 in the second half. Arizona leads the country in three-point field goal defense, allowing only 27 percent from beyond the arc.
Up next for the Cardinal is Arizona State, who Stanford defeated, 70-56, last month in Tempe. The Sun Devils have lost seven consecutive Pac-10 games and have not won a road game since Jan. 1.
Stanford and Arizona State tip off on Saturday at 3 p.m. at Maples Pavilion.