Cardinal can’t keep up with No. 7 Wildcats

Jan. 22, 2015, 11:44 p.m.

An impressive first-half display was not enough for Stanford (13-5, 4-2 Pac-12) in a highly contested matchup against No. 7 Arizona (17-2, 5-1 Pac-12). The home side could not hold onto the lead it had built at halftime and thus fell 89-82 in a thrilling game.

It was always going to be a tough night for the Cardinal. Arizona had won the previous nine matchups in this rivalry and was having a phenomenal season this far, but the team did not look to be intimidated.

Anthony Brown finished with 18 points and 9 rebounds for the third straight game (LAUREN DYER/The Stanford Daily)

Stanford has made it a habit of pulling out big wins this season against top opposition like Texas, Washington and UConn, but the Wildcats’ offense proved too much to handle for the Cardinal defense as the game wore on. Arizona scored 50 in the second half, putting victory out of reach for the home side, which led 41-39 at the half.

The players and head coach Johnny Dawkins were disappointed with the defensive display. When questioned on the deciding factor for the game, senior guard Chasson Randle replied, “Defense. We didn’t get enough stops. Any time you give up 80-plus points, it’s a recipe for losing and we’ve got to fix that.”

Freshman Stanley Johnson and junior Brandon Ashley were driving forces for the Arizona team. Johnson managed 19 points, including some important free throws near the end of the game and 7 rebounds. Ashley was limited to only 16 minutes in the game due to foul trouble, but still managed 17 points.

Seniors Chasson Randle and Anthony Brown once again proved to be Stanford’s most prolific attackers, with 26 and 18 points, respectively. Randle surpassed a massive personal milestone in this game, scoring his 2,000th career point. However, there were not many smiles from the senior after the loss.

“I play the game to win and we didn’t do that tonight,” he said. “Later on in life, I can look back and say, ‘I scored 2,000 points.’ But we didn’t get the win, so it’s just about moving on.”

There was a growing restlessness with the referees from a packed Maples Pavilion. Both teams ended up in foul trouble, with eight players having four or more fouls. However, the Stanford team did not let the refereeing decisions affect its play.

“No, I didn’t think they were calling it closely,” Dawkins said. “I thought they were fouls…I just think it made the game a bit more disjointed. We had two or three guys that had two or three fouls in the first half, but so did they. It’s the nature of the game, and you have to find ways to make adjustments.”

One positive to take from the night was the support from the Stanford fans. The team enjoyed a strong boost from the crowd with nearly 7,000 in attendance. Stanford’s home court form could be greatly bolstered by continued turnouts of this caliber.

“The energy in the building was amazing,” Dawkins said. “I thought our guys really fed off of that in both games. I love Maples and I love what I see with the support that we have. I just want everyone to keep coming out with that kind of energy because we need it.”

Despite some positives from an incredibly strong Stanford performance, the team still leaves dejected at a missed opportunity.

“Anytime you lose a game, it’s always disappointing,” Randle said. “It’s one opportunity gone. We always say every [game] counts as one, but this one being at home, and not being able to get the win, it kind of stings a little bit. We have to move on. We have another one Saturday and we have to get that one.”

Stanford is back in Maples on Saturday as it goes up against Arizona State. This will be an important must-win game for the Cardinal as they look to reignite their so-far strong season.

Contact Jack Seaton at jrseaton ‘at’

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