Stanford defeats Seattle Pacific in exhibition play

Nov. 2, 2013, 7:11 p.m.

With the beginning of the regular season just six days away, Stanford men’s basketball team looked rather inconsistent in its first live action of the season on Saturday. The Cardinal was still able to defeat Division II opponent Seattle Pacific 89-61 behind the spectacular play of junior guard Chasson Randle, who finished with 37 points.

Stanford raced out to an early 19-4 lead, getting eight quick points from Randle and some nice interior scoring from senior center Stefan Nastic, who had six points in the early going. The Cardinal opened the game with full-court pressure and zone defense, capitalizing on its athletic advantage over the smaller, slower Falcons by forcing turnovers and getting out into transition.

Chasson Randle (5) scored 37 points in Stanford's exhibition victory over Seattle Pacific Saturday. (ZETONG LI/The Stanford Daily)
Chasson Randle (5) scored 37 points in Stanford’s exhibition victory over Seattle Pacific Saturday. (ZETONG LI/The Stanford Daily)

Despite the strong start, Stanford let Seattle Pacific back into the game with a lapse all too familiar to Stanford basketball over the past few seasons. The Falcons, who are the top-ranked team in Division II, showed their mettle by slowly chipping away at the Cardinal’s lead. With All-Pac-12 forward Dwight Powell on the bench due to foul trouble for the final 12 minutes of the first half, the Falcons were able to narrow Stanford’s advantage to five by halftime. Seattle Pacific’s run was greatly aided by particularly sloppy play from the Cardinal on the offensive end, where a sequence of Stanford turnovers and offensive fouls allowed the Falcons to narrow the gap.

For a team that has struggled with consistency in recent years, this lapse was not a welcome sign. This Stanford squad hopes to make some serious noise in the conference race this season, and a more talented team than Seattle Pacific could have taken greater advantage of Stanford’s poor play in the first half. Luckily for the Cardinal, it held a large talent edge over the Falcons. Randle proved to be the difference, scoring 22 of Stanford’s 38 points in the first half.

“My teammates found me in good spots,” Randle said. “Also our transition game was working for us today.”

Stanford’s effort was much more consistent in the second half, as Powell and senior guard Anthony Brown started to contribute in their usual fashion. Powell scored six straight points early in the second half on a series of driving layups, and Brown added 10 of his 14 points in the second frame to help the Cardinal finally pull away from the Falcons. Stanford outscored Seattle Pacific 40-15 over the final 15:30 of the game, wearing down the undersized and outmanned Falcons. Powell finished with eight points on 4-of-5 shooting, while Nastic had 12 and senior Josh Huestis added eight points and 10 rebounds.

Moving forward, however, the Cardinal has to get better. Randle knows it.

“We just can’t have lapses defensively,” Randle said. “When things aren’t going well, we just have to pick it up quicker.”

Head coach Johnny Dawkins spoke to the team after the game about handling adversity, a theme that has been a main focus for the Cardinal in the offseason.

“I thought that we’ve got to clean up some of our defenses,” Dawkins said. “We’ve got to clean up some of our zone defense, and we also have to improve upon valuing the basketball more too.”

Stanford will have six days to make those improvements before Bucknell, an NCAA Tournament team last year, comes to town for the season opener.  It appears as though the Cardinal will open the season with a starting lineup of Randle, Brown, Huestis, Powell and Nastic, with experienced senior contributors Aaron Bright, John Gage and Robbie Lemons coming off the bench.

Nastic’s start Saturday was a surprise to some, given Nastic’s limited playing time in the past. Although Nastic was an effective low-post scorer against the Falcons, it remains to be seen whether his success will translate against better and taller opposition. Having him on the floor hurts Stanford’s spacing on offense due to the presence of another big man instead of the smaller guard Bright, so Nastic will have to continue to contribute to see more playing time.

The Cardinal opens the regular season at home on Nov. 8 at 7 p.m. against Bucknell.

Contact Daniel Lupin at [email protected]

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