Josh Owens couldn’t miss, literally.
The redshirt senior forward made his first nine shots from the field—as well as his first free throw—on his way to a game-high 21 points as the Stanford men’s basketball team blew out Oklahoma State 82-67 in the NIT Season Tip-Off Semifinals and advanced to face No. 5 Syracuse in the championship game on Friday afternoon.
The Cardinal (5-0), which was already shooting well in the first half, caught fire just before halftime and went on an 18-0 run that spanned both halves to take control of the game. Freshman guard Chasson Randle chipped in a career-high 17 points—all in the second half—and sophomore guard Aaron Bright added 15 with four assists to hand the Cowboys (3-1) their first loss.
“We think we can shoot the ball, so it wasn’t really an emphasis tonight,” said head coach Johnny Dawkins. “We spaced the floor and got good looks. We always stay in character, tell them to be ready when those shots present themselves and for the most part we took good shots.”
Thanks a buzzer-beating three-pointer from sophomore Anthony Brown, Stanford scored the final six points of the first half to take a 46-35 lead, then came out with four straight three-pointers to wipe out all hope for Oklahoma State, playing with a heavy heart after the deaths of two of the Cowboys’ women’s team coaches last week.
It wasn’t all bad for Oklahoma State, which saw freshmen phenom Le’Bryan Nash score 16 points with and sophomore Markel Brown drop 11.
But they were stymied by the Cardinal defense, which forced plenty of bad shots out of the Cowboys’ inexperienced squad despite giving up more than 60 points for the first time all season.
Stanford sophomore forward Dwight Powell was one of several Cardinal players who were active in the passing lanes, picking off a couple of passes as Stanford forced 14 turnovers and outrebounded Oklahoma State by eight on the night. The Cowboys shot just 44.4 percent from the field for the game.
It won’t be so easy on Friday, however, as Stanford takes on a loaded Orange team that beat Virginia Tech 69-58 in the other semifinal matchup on Wednesday. Syracuse has plenty of scoring threats–two of their bench players combined for 23 points against the Hokies–and has one of the premier big men in the game in senior forward Kris Joseph.
Tip-off from MSG will be at 2 p.m. PST, with the game televised on ESPN.