After falling 75-73 to Texas (8-3) on Saturday, Stanford men’s basketball improved to 6-4 with a 70-60 victory over Sacramento State (6-4) on Monday. The victory marked the fifth Stanford triumph in as many meetings against the Hornets. The game also marks the fifth home victory in seven games at Maples Pavilion for the Cardinal this season.
Both teams shot poorly, as the Cardinal shot only 38.5 percent from the field and the Hornets only 40.4 percent. What proved to be the difference was the Stanford defense, which forced the Hornets into turning the ball over frequently, giving the Cardinal more scoring opportunities in transition.
Despite a slow start, several key players were able to give the Cardinal offense a much-needed boost. Sophomores Michael Humphrey and Dorian Pickens both had great nights. Despite being in foul trouble in the second half, Humphrey earned a career-high 21 points along with 9 boards.
“I knew even if I picked up a fifth foul, I was going to do it aggressively, and guys were going to come in and keep playing that way,” Humphrey said.
Pickens notched 20 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists, while senior Rosco Allen also played well, tallying an impressive double-double with 11 points and 12 rebounds.
Fouls plagued the momentum of the Hornets late in the game, as both junior center Eric Stuteville, who scored a team-high 19 points, and senior guard Cody Demps fouled out in the final minutes.
The Hornets capitalized on a shaky Stanford start and led for much of the first half by forcing Stanford to look for opportunities beyond the arc. The pressure forced the Cardinal to only shoot 23.1 percent from 3-point range. They bounced back, however, and focused more on penetration into the paint. The resulting combination of Sacramento State’s turnover troubles and the Cardinal’s increased energy allowed them to pull ahead and take a 36-33 lead into the half.
In the second half, Stanford came out with purpose, taking an early lead and holding it for the rest of the game. The Cardinal took advantage of the increased number of scoring opportunities opened up by the turnover-heavy Sacramento State offense. While the Hornets made several runs and cut into Stanford’s lead, whenever they gained any momentum, the Cardinal did a solid job of countering with a run of their own.
“At the end, the guys were at their best,” said Stanford head coach Johnny Dawkins. “Our second half defense was really really solid…which I really think helped us for the majority of the second half.”
The Cardinal will have a short break for the holiday season before taking on Carroll (Montana) on Sunday, Dec. 27, at 6 p.m. at Maples Pavilion. The game will be broadcast live on Pac-12 Networks.
Contact Yousef Hindy at yhindy ‘at’ stanford.edu.