For the fourth straight game, Stanford men’s basketball (10-6, 6-4 Pac-12) has found itself with at least three players in double digits, but the Cardinal’s offensive efforts were not enough to overcome a determined Arizona State (6-8, 3-5 Pac-12) squad on Saturday. In a down-to-the-wire loss, Stanford fell to the Sun Devils 79-75.
The Cardinal came into the contest searching for its first sweep of the Arizona schools since the 2003-04 season, but the Sun Devils made it clear from the opening seconds that a Stanford victory would not be obtained easily. Arizona State’s freshman forward Marcus Bagely put the Sun Devils on the board just 16 seconds into play with a bucket from beyond the arc.
In familiar fashion, Stanford’s offense was slower to awaken; a pair of free throws by senior forward Oscar da Silva followed Bagely’s long-range launch just 30 seconds later but were the Cardinal’s only points until junior forward Jaiden Delaire netted a jumper with 18:02 to go before the half. Delaire’s shot proved to be the spark Stanford needed and fueled a 10-2 scoring run that put the Cardinal up 14-7.
The Sun Devils answered with a 12-2 run of their own, led by four points a piece from the team’s standout senior guard, Remy Martin, and highly praised freshman guard, Josh Christopher. Martin continued to wreak havoc on the Cardinal defense throughout the first 20 minutes; on 5-for-8 shooting and a 4-for-5 showing at the foul line, Martin topped his team’s offensive stats at the half with 15 points to his name.
On Stanford’s side of the action, Delaire, da Silva and freshman guard Noah Taitz had picked up eight points each on 3-for-6 shooting individually before the break, but it was not enough to keep the Sun Devils from stretching their lead to six at the half.
A crucial challenge for both teams in the opening 20 minutes was three-point shooting. Stanford found success on 0-of-7 attempts from long range, while Arizona managed to sink just 2-of-10 — one being Bagely’s opening bucket and the second being Martin’s only triple of the night. The Sun Devils attempted to compensate elsewhere in the field, shooting 15-for-33, while Stanford relied on a perfect 14-for-14 first-half record at the charity stripe just to keep the home team within reach.
Aside from opening shooting struggles, the Cardinal was plagued by turnovers, committing 13 before the break and an additional seven by the time the final buzzer sounded. In each of the five games before Saturday’s action, Stanford committed the crime 15 times or fewer.
“In the first half, our lack of experience and our lack of depth at guard spots showed,” said head coach Jerod Haase of the challenges faced by the team. “But I also thought we made some adjustments and talked about some things at half time that helped.”
“In the second half, I was very proud of the team and how they performed overall and how they really executed the game plan the best they possibly could,” Haase added.
The second half saw the continuation of Stanford’s recent offensive trend: Delaire and da Silva dominating. The pair poured in 13 and 10 second-half points, respectively, both remaining perfect at the foul line with 6-for-6 and 4-for-4 marks. Da Silva also reeled in six rebounds in the back 20 minutes to bring his total for the evening to 11 and record his fifth double-double of the season.
Taitz and freshman guard Michael O’Connell complemented the Delaire and da Silva performances with double-digit tallies of their own — Taitz sinking 13 and O’Connell adding 12 over the course of the night.
Seeing big numbers from da Silva is nothing out of the ordinary given that the senior leads the Pac-12 conference in average points per game (19.5), but Delaire’s rise to the top of the Cardinal stats is relatively recent and comes in light of numerous absences on Stanford’s roster.
Senior guard Daejon Davis and junior guard Bryce Wills both sustained injuries earlier this month that have kept them sidelined for several games; Davis was initially injured on Dec. 19 before returning for the team’s trip to the mountain states, but he has again been missing from the lineup since Stanford’s bout with UCLA on Jan. 23. Wills has been out of commission since Jan. 4 following a knee injury. Since Jan. 4, Delaire has doubled his scoring average, going from 6.2 points per game on Jan. 2 to 12.6 following Saturday’s matchup.
While the absence of Davis and Wills may have given Delaire time to thrive and establish himself as a serious offensive threat, it also provided Arizona State with ample opportunity to score, considering that Davis and Wills are widely regarded as two of the conference’s best perimeter defenders. Five Sun Devils players took advantage of the circumstances and finished in double-digits, with 23 points from Martin leading Arizona State and helping send Stanford home with a loss.
The Cardinal now returns to Stanford campus to play USC on Tuesday at 6 p.m. PT. It will mark the team’s first true home game of the 2020-21 season following the recent lifting of Santa Clara County COVID-19 restrictions that previously banned contact sports.
Contact Savanna Stewart at savnstew ‘at’ stanford.edu.