Stanford men’s basketball (14-8, 10-6 Pac-12) dominated the interior against Washington (4-17, 3-13 Pac-12), scoring 50 points in the paint en route to a 79-61 win in Seattle on Thursday.
It was the second win of the year for the Cardinal against the Huskies, giving the team a second consecutive sweep of its Pacific Northwest foe.
Senior forward Oscar da Silva led the charge with 18 points and six rebounds on 6-of-9 shooting, while junior forward Jaiden Delaire added 15 points of his own. Sophomore guard Cole Bajema paced Washington with 13 points.
The Cardinal jumped out to a 6-2 lead, thanks to two buckets from Delaire and a fast break layup from freshman guard Michael O’Connell. Washington then responded with a pair of three-pointers from junior guard Erik Stevenson. The teams would go into the under-16 media timeout knotted at eight.
Stanford turned up its defensive efforts, only allowing the Huskies to score four points over a 10-minute stretch. During that run, the Cardinal built up a double-digit lead.
Stanford took a 32-22 advantage into the halftime break, with Delaire leading the team in scoring with 10. Senior guard Daejon Davis — playing in his hometown for the final time as a collegiate athlete — had six points. Stevenson led the Huskies with 11 points on 3-of-5 shooting from beyond the arc, while junior guard Jamal Bey added nine. The Cardinal shot 48.3% from the field in the opening period, compared to Washington’s 32.1%.
It was more of the same for the Cardinal to start the second half, as sophomore forward Spencer Jones got the offense going by hitting an open three in the early moments. Junior forward Lukas Kisunas used his body to get to the rim and earn a pair of free throws. The physical play in the paint marked a trend that the Cardinal continued to demonstrate throughout the night.
After a quiet first half, Pac-12 Player of the Year candidate Oscar da Silva started to find his rhythm, seemingly responding to the announcers who called for him to step up his caliber of play.
At the same time that the offense started to click, Stanford’s defense continued to roll, keeping Washington out of the paint and forcing multiple turnovers. The Cardinal converted the Huskies’ errors into highlight plays, like a flashy dunk by Delaire and O’Connell’s coast-to-coast lay-in.
Davis’s efficient night continued as well, as he scored a series of points in the paint and managed to get to the free-throw line multiple times. Freshman forward Ziaire Williams also left his mark on the game after a trip free-throw line on a tough drive helped him find him offensive footing. Williams would finish with nine points, shooting 4-for-6 from the floor.
The moment that epitomized the dominant night for Stanford was a poster dunk by junior guard Bryce Wills. Head coach Jerod Haase even went so far as to suggest that the play, arguably one of the best dunks in college basketball this season, belonged at No. 1 on SportsCenter’s Top 10 Plays.
“Once I [saw] him take those two strong dribbles and plant left-right, I knew it was going to happen. I’ve seen that plenty of times before,” Delaire said of Wills’s dunk. “Crazy play, incredible.”
The momentum continued for the Cardinal, as plays like O’Connell’s transition three-point shot and da Silva’s flurry of fancy finishes in the lane fueled a lead that peaked at 26 points in the second half. However, a 15-3 run by the Huskies provided a momentary scare that a comeback may be imminent. Nevertheless, Stanford’s lead never dipped below double-digits, and it managed to keep its foot on the gas pedal throughout the night as it looks to continue its play past the Pac-12 schedule.
Stanford’s defensive scheme that shut down the Huskies’ guard play while also keeping them out of the paint was ultimately crucial to the win. Washington’s senior guard Quade Green, the team’s leading scorer on the season, was held to just five points after having dropped 15 points against the Cardinal in the teams’ first meeting on Jan.7. The physicality, ball-movement, hustle and high-IQ plays that have been the hallmarks of the Stanford squad throughout the season were on full display on Thursday.
After several close games and a loss, the blow-out win was a welcome sight and points to good things to come as the Cardinal stays in the hunt for an NCAA Tournament bid. Up next, Stanford will continue its Washington road trip, taking on Washington State in Pullman on Saturday at 1 p.m. PT.