After Santa Clara County restrictions prompted Stanford men’s basketball (2-2, 0-0 Pac-12) to cancel its remaining non-conference home games and continue training in North Carolina following the Maui Invitational, the program converted a rapidly-arranged matchup against North Carolina A&T (2-4, 0-0 MEAC) into its second win of the season on Sunday. Crucial contributions from nearly the entire Stanford roster and big offensive numbers from senior forward Oscar da Silva paved the way for the Cardinal en route to a 78-46 victory over the Aggies.
Fifteen of Stanford’s sixteen players saw playing time in the matchup, which was the Cardinal’s first-ever trip to an HBCU. Junior forward Jaiden Delaire was the exception, missing from the lineup and remaining on the sidelines in sweats presumably due to injury, though few details have been disclosed by the program.
Nearly a third of Stanford’s points came from players off the bench; freshman guard Michael O’Connell and freshman forward Max Murrell contributed seven and eight, respectively. O’Connell also recorded four rebounds, helping the Cardinal outdo the Aggies 58-40 in that regard.
“O’Connell gave us some good minutes, with some organization and leadership,” said head coach Jerod Haase of the freshman’s 14 minutes on the floor. “Noah [Taitz] brings a different dynamic to our team and is certainly making an argument to be out there more.”
“I don’t know if I have anybody off the bench right now that is just guaranteeing themselves 20 minutes [of playing time], but I also think we have a bunch of guys in a bunch of roles that can contribute,” Haase added.
Supported by a deep bench, the Cardinal’s dynamic starting five managed to do damage on both sides of the ball. On 12-for-16 shooting from the field, including two 3-pointers on two attempts, da Silva topped the Cardinal’s offensive stats with 26 points to his name, just shy of the career-high 27 he recorded in Stanford’s 70-60 victory over Oregon in February. He complemented his success at the hoop with eight rebounds, two blocks and two steals — leading the team in the latter two categories, though freshman forward Ziaire Williams reigned supreme on the glass with 10 boards.
Senior guard Daejon Davis added nine points and four assists, also reeling in seven rebounds, while sophomore forward Spencer Jones knocked down two from behind the arc and rolled in a layup to acquire eight points by the final buzzer. Six of Jones’ points came in the first three minutes of play, in the middle of what Stanford would stretch into a 20-3 opening scoring run.
Struggles to find success shooting kept the Aggies scoreless for nearly eight minutes during the first 20 minutes of action; a 3-pointer by junior forward Quentin Jones got North Carolina A&T on the scoreboard with 18:28 to go in the first half, but the drought it sparked for the Aggies was not disrupted until sophomore forward Jeremy Robinson laid in two points with 10:42 to go before the half.
Turnovers also proved to be a downfall for the Aggies, thanks to Stanford’s ability to convert on the fast break. Despite the Cardinal handing the ball over just two fewer times than North Carolina A&T — 13 turnovers to 15, respectively — Stanford picked up 23 points off the errors, while the Aggies only managed to produce 10.
With the victory, Stanford moves to 2-2 on the season and turns attention to next Sunday’s matchup against USC (3-1, 0-0 Pac-12) in Los Angeles. Nonetheless, the team is forced to remain flexible in its plans in light of frequently changing COVID-19 restrictions. To da Silva, however, the unprecedented circumstances and inability to return to campus have appeared as another opportunity for the team to grow.
“We definitely spend time together, and it’s just like an extended road trip,” da Silva said of the team having to remain in North Carolina following the Maui Invitational. “I think it’s what you make out of it, and, you know, we’re embracing it.”
Contact Savanna Stewart at savnstew ‘at’ stanford.edu.