M. Basketball: Thomas and Huskies roar past Card

Feb. 14, 2011, 1:49 a.m.

Given a chance to complete sweeps of the weekend and of the season series against Washington, the Stanford men’s basketball team failed to capitalize as it fell to the Huskies on Saturday evening. The usually defense-savvy Cardinal (13-11, 6-7 Pac-10), which dealt the Huskies (17-7, 9-4) their first Pac-10 loss on Jan. 13, fell in an 87-76 decision, giving up the most points it has allowed to an opponent this season.

Junior guard Jeremy Green scored the first points of the game on a jumper, but Washington’s senior forward Matthew Bryan-Amaning would quickly respond with a layup off a steal, the first of many Cardinal turnovers over the course of the night.

“I thought [we] played well,” said Stanford head coach Johnny Dawkins, despite the loss. “I thought we turned it over a few too many times, which led to transition and easy opportunities for them. And let’s face it, they’re a very good basketball team, and tonight we played well.”

Junior guard Jeremy Green, above, put up a double-double with 24 points and 12 rebounds, but it was not enough to lift the Card over the Huskies.

Playing in front of a sellout home crowd of 10,000, the Huskies swiftly took control of the game, though largely without the contributions of standout junior guard Isaiah Thomas, who missed his first four attempts from the three-point line. Bryan-Amaning, senior guard Venoy Overton and junior guard Scott Suggs combined for 21 of Washington’s first-half points. Thomas wouldn’t remain scoreless for long, however, coming alive in the half’s final 2:38 to score 14 off four three-pointers and two foul shots.

“He’s a terrific player,” Dawkins said. “He’s one of the best players in the conference, but also in the country. You’re not really going to stop Isaiah, you have to try to contain him as best you can.”

Green carried the team both offensively and defensively on the half, leading the team with 12 points and six rebounds. Freshman forward John Gage was another bright spot for the offense, going 2-for-3 from range for six points in his seven first-period minutes. But despite the team’s respectable 46.2-percent shooting, Stanford’s 10 turnovers combined with the Huskies’ eight three-pointers gave Washington a 48-31 halftime advantage.

“We got off to a late start a few times in the first half, and that was difficult,” Dawkins said. “We have to go to counters, we need to go to our pressure releases more, and we didn’t really do that.”

The Cardinal was more impressive in the second half than the first, outscoring Washington 24-20, but the effort was not enough to overcome the Huskies after the lackluster first period. Stanford had a quick nine points, including an Owens dunk and a Green three in the half’s opening minutes to bring the score within 12, but Washington would turn around and widen the gap to 18.

“They made it hard for us to get into the offense, and they turned defense into offense a number of times,” Dawkins said.

The Huskies would take their largest lead of the night, going 21 points up with 5:25 remaining before Stanford–with key contributions from its freshman class–staged a late-game comeback attempt. Gage hit another three, followed by a layup and a jumper from fellow freshman forward Anthony Brown. The Card outscored the Huskies 11-2 in the game’s final three minutes, with six points from freshman guard Aaron Bright, three from Brown and two from freshman forward Josh Huestis.

Green earned his first career double-double, finishing with 24 points and 12 rebounds, his season and career bests, respectively. Brown added 15 points on 5-for-8 shooting, and Owens had 12 points on 6-for-8 shooting.

Still, the Card looks to improve after the big loss.

“We’ve got to continue to get better,” Dawkins concluded.

Four Washington players scored in double digits, led by Thomas, who had 22 points on 6-for-12 shooting. Bryan-Amaning had 15, Overton had 12 and freshman guard C.J. Wilcox tallied 10.

Stanford will return to Maples Pavilion this weekend for its final conference homestand. The Card will face UCLA on Thursday at 7:30 p.m.

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