Maybe it was the impending matchup with North Carolina next Monday. Maybe it was the absence of injured leaders Dorian Pickens and Marcus Sheffield, or perhaps it was the quick turnaround after Sunday’s victory. Whatever the reason, the Stanford men’s basketball team (2-1) looked lethargic and sloppy in an ugly 67-61 loss to Eastern Washington (2-1) at Maples Pavilion on Tuesday.
After coming out of the halftime break down 33-27, the Cardinal scored two quick baskets, making it seem as if head coach Jerod Haase’s halftime talk had ignited the Cardinal offense. But Eastern Washington quickly scored nine straight to take a 42-31 lead that they would not relinquish, handing the Cardinal perhaps their most disappointing loss of the Jerod Haase era.
The Cardinal’s youth and inexperience shone through on Tuesday as freshman guard Daejon Davis struggled, making a number of turnovers and going 0-5 from the field. Even freshman Isaac White, a star for the Cardinal so far this season, struggled on Tuesday, scoring five points on 1-7 shooting from behind the arc.
But Haase was quick to take some of the blame of off the freshmen.
“We also can’t just say ‘Well, they’re freshmen,’” Haase said. “They’re not all freshmen out there. There needs to be a greater sense of urgency to what we’re doing.”
Collectively, this missing sense of urgency plagued the Cardinal as they struggled with the Eagles zone defense and allowed Eastern Washington to make 11 three-pointers. The Cardinal were 2-16 from three-point range.
“I feel like we just didn’t come out the way we needed to – that hunger, that fight,” senior forward Reid Travis said. “That’s the biggest disappointment – we have enough leadership on this team to get guys ready.”
Travis is the leader of this Cardinal team, and he did his part, scoring 20 points and grabbing five rebounds. But Stanford is going to need more from Travis’ supporting cast if it wants to be competitive this season.
From the opening whistle, it seemed like the Cardinal would cruise to a third straight win. They jumped out to a quick 9-2 lead and showed no signs of slowing down. But about halfway through the first half, something seemed to switch off for the Cardinal. Poor shot attempts, lazy defense and a series of turnovers allowed Eastern Washington to take a lead into the half.
To the Eagles credit, they made a number of crucial three pointers, going 11-25 from deep. Senior guard Blogdan Bliznyuk led the way for Eastern Washington with 23 points.
One bright spot for the Cardinal was freshman forward Oscar Da Silva, who had 12 points and 17 rebounds. Da Silva’s performance was another example of brilliant individual play for a team that is still looking to fit all the pieces into place.
Despite Da Silva’s play, Tuesday’s loss will be tough for the Cardinal to swallow, especially as their schedule gets tougher in the weeks to come.
“We’re not where we need to be,” Haase said. “There’s tremendous room for growth and we have a long way to go and we’re not covering that gap.”
Stanford faces Northeastern at Maples Pavilion at 3 p.m. on Friday. The game will be streamed live on Pac-12 networks.
Contact Gregory Block at gblock ‘at’ stanford.edu.