After a comprehensive win in Berkeley against rival Cal (7-14, 2-12 Pac-12) on Thursday, Stanford men’s basketball (12-7, 8-5 Pac-12) saw a late surge from the Bears in the second half but ultimately prevailed in a hard-fought 76-70 victory in Maples Pavilion. Four Cardinal ended in double digits for the night.
“This year, many teams are playing back-to-back games and based on my evaluation, these games are split most of the time,” said head coach Jerod Haase. “It is certainly a great step for us to get back-to-back wins against Cal.”
The offensive strategy worked in Stanford’s favor: The Cardinal shot 58% from the field, compared to Cal’s 38%. Senior forward Oscar da Silva utilized his prowess in the paint to claim his second-straight 20-point game against Cal, finishing with 23 points, six rebounds and four blocks.
“He has been as consistent as anybody on the team,” Haase said of da Silva’s performance. “He had an elite-level, stellar performance today, being able to shoot and score in many different ways.”
“We kind of come to expect that from him,” Haase added.
Junior forward Lukas Kisunas contributed a career-high 12 points along with six rebounds.
“He gives us a lot in terms of offense and defense,” said da Silva of Kisunas. “He’s not afraid to do the dirty work, boxing out hard and grabbing rebounds.”
Junior guard Bryce Wills returned to the court after sustaining a knee injury on Jan. 4. He earned six points, two assists and one steal in 15 minutes of limited play. Freshman forward Ziaire Williams was available to play after missing the last five games for undisclosed reasons but stayed on the bench throughout the contest.
“Since everyone is medically cleared to play, it is about just working our guys into form, trying to put the pieces of the puzzle together,” Haase said of having his entire team back.
The final four minutes of the first half saw the Cardinal start to build a healthy 11-point lead over the Bears heading into the second half. Freshman guard Noah Taitz put an exclamation mark on the first half by draining a buzzer-beater for the Cardinal, contributing his five points in the last 1:30 of the opening period.
Stanford extended its lead to 18 points until Cal started to hit from beyond the arc, cutting the home team’s lead to six with 53 seconds remaining.
“I give Cal a ton of credit since they were fighting for every point until the end,” Haase said of Cal’s late surge. “They are a competitive and talented group, and some shots they made down the stretch were impressive.”
After four days of rest, the Cardinal remains at home to seek revenge against Colorado on Feb. 11.
Contact Jordan John Lee at jjslee22 ‘at’ stanford.edu.