By Ells Boone
The Stanford men’s basketball team (11-7, 7-5 Pac-12) came into Haas Pavilion Thursday night looking to get revenge on a Cal squad (7-13, 2-11 Pac-12) that claimed victory twice in three meetings a season ago. Senior forward Oscar da Silva made sure that the Cardinal got one back over its Bay Area rival, leading Stanford to a 70-55 win with 24 points and 11 rebounds of his own.
“[The win was] extra sweet for sure,” said da Silva. “I had that game at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas last year in my mind before we stepped onto the court, and I think everybody else did too.”
“We didn’t play as well as we should’ve last year, and if that happens against Cal, that always kind of sits deep,” he continued. “We played with that on our mind [today] and we didn’t give up and we played hard.”
Both teams started slowly until the Cardinal broke the game open with a 13-2 run after the under-12 media timeout, led largely by junior forward Jaiden Delaire and da Silva. Stanford went on to shoot 17-for-28 from the field and 2-for-5 from beyond the three-point line in the first half. Junior guard Matt Bradley led the Golden Bears with 11 points in the opening period.
Stanford’s freshman guard Noah Taitz closed the half with six unanswered points to give the visitors a 42-29 halftime lead. Freshman forward Max Murrell was also a positive factor in the opening half, as he had six points and one block.
After the break, Cal came out with a vengeance, cutting the lead to inside 10 at the under-16 media timeout. The Golden Bears’ run continued as Stanford sophomore guard Spencer Jones fouled Bradley on a successful three-point attempt. The ensuing Bradley free throw cut the Cardinal’s lead to just three.
Stanford, however, responded with a 9-0 run to regain control, holding the Golden Bears without a made-basket for seven minutes. A pair of free throws from junior forward Andre Kelly finally broke Cal’s cold streak. Kelly finished with 15 points on 5-of-7 shooting from the floor.
The Cardinal was able to keep the momentum going with both da Silva and Delaire continuing their great play down the stretch. Cal’s leading scorer, Bradley, fouled out of the game with 2:26 remaining to play, all but ensuring that Stanford would go on to win. Despite fouling out, Bradley still put in a notable performance, totaling 24 points and doing most of his damage from beyond the arc, where he shot 5-of-7.
The Cardinal out-rebounded Cal 30-28 and also forced 16 turnovers, while only handing the ball over 12 times themselves — four fewer than the team’s season average.
It was important for da Silva to get back to his usual self against the Golden Bears after recording his first single digit scoring output of the season against USC (14-3, 8-2 Pac-12) on Tuesday. He did just that en route to a double-double, which was his sixth in the last ten games.
“Oscar’s consistency all year has really been remarkable,” said head coach Jerod Haase. “I didn’t think he played his best game, nor did he, against USC, and he responded today very, very well.”
“When you have somebody in Oscar’s position with four assists, it’s not just the points, it’s not just the rebounds, he really does so much and has leadership skills out there as well,” Haase added.
Delaire finished with 14 points for his sixth consecutive double-digit scoring game, while Taitz had 10 points. Stanford was again missing the trio of freshman forward Ziaire Williams, junior guard Bryce Wills and senior guard Daejon Davis. Earlier this week, Haase stated that Wills’ and Davis’ statuses are day-to-day, while Williams is completing COVID-19 quarantine protocol after a brief period away from the team for personal reasons.
There will be a quick turnaround for these two teams, as they will meet again on Sunday at 7 p.m. PT for the return matchup in Maples Pavilion. It will be just the Cardinal’s second true home game all season.