With star senior forward Oscar da Silva sidelined and a loaded Oregon (15-5, 10-4 Pac-12) lineup ready to go, many anticipated that it would be a long night for Cardinal fans and Stanford men’s basketball (14-10, 10-8 Pac-12). But when the teams headed to the locker rooms separated by just five points at halftime, it was clear that the Cardinal was not going down without a fight.
The Ducks were just as reluctant to cave, and 24 points from senior guard Chris Duarte helped the visitors narrowly escape, 71-68.
Widely-distributed scoring was Stanford’s apparent method of attack in the opening 20 minutes. Of the nine Cardinal members that tallied court time during the first half, eight scored. Six points apiece from senior guard Daejon Davis and sophomore forward Spencer Jones led the team’s first-half efforts, but junior forward Jaiden Delaire and freshman forward Ziaire Williams added four each to help compensate for the lack of da Silva, whose 18.8 points-per-game average ranks No. 2 in the conference behind Arizona State’s Remy Martin.
“With Oscar out, I thought different guys were put into different roles, matchups and alignments that we really haven’t had all year,” said head coach Jerod Haase with regard to the team’s adjusted lineup. “I thought the guys adjusted pretty well, so I say that to say that I’m pleased with how the guys handled that challenge.”
Unsurprisingly, all six of Jones’ points in the opening period came from beyond the arc, where the sophomore had been shooting at a 52.2% success rate prior to the Cardinal’s matchup against the Ducks. Davis also poured in his contributions from deep, testing an Oregon defense whose priority during the teams’ last meeting on Jan. 2 had been to shut down da Silva in the paint.
By the close of the first 20 minutes, the Cardinal had netted 12 of 27 attempts from the field, including four of nine from long range, to record identical .444 field-goal and three-point percentages.
In familiar fashion, Duarte was a charging force for Oregon’s offense from the tip; Duarte posted seven first-half points in an effort second only to senior guard/forward LJ Figueroa’s 13. Minimal fouls by both teams in the opening half 𑁋 just four from the Ducks and five from Stanford 𑁋 prevented either from maintaining significant separation into the break. An 11-4 run by the Ducks had the Cardinal trailing 31-23 with less than 10 minutes remaining before halftime, but back-to-back Stanford buckets from Jones and junior guard Bryce Wills worked to keep Oregon within reach.
The second half saw little change in Stanford’s scoring style as seven of nine active players added points to the Cardinal’s side of the scoreboard. The Cardinal was quick to take control in the second half with four points from Davis off a pair of free throws and subsequent layup cutting Oregon’s lead to one. Additions from junior forward Lukas Kisunas and Jones helped Stanford secure its first lead since 11:20 remained in the first half.
Delaire paced the team with 11 second-half points, capitalizing on a number of challenging drives to the hoop. Williams offered brief flashes of the talent that many expected to see regularly from the highly-touted freshman; he knocked down eight points in a row in less than three minutes for the Cardinal, but three personal fouls kept his time on the court more limited than the already-lacking Stanford lineup could afford.
Fouls would ultimately decide the game’s outcome, as Williams was hardly the only member of the Cardinal squad that found himself the cause of a blown whistle on multiple occasions. Davis, Kisunas and Jones picked up two fouls each in the back 20 minutes of action and Wills added one more to Stanford’s total. The effect was critical to the Cardinal, as the crimes gave Oregon 13 chances at the free-throw line, nine of which were successful, including three from Duarte.
As the nail in the coffin for the Cardinal, all of Duarte’s successful attempts at the charity stripe came in the final 1:05 of play. After a three-point launch from Duarte was immediately complemented by a dunk from Oregon’s sophomore forward Chandler Lawson, the Ducks possessed a slim three-point lead with just over three minutes remaining. A layup off the drive by Delaire brought the Cardinal back within one, and the junior laid in another two points just moments later in response to a pair of Duarte free throws, settling the score at 68-69 Oregon with just 37 seconds on the clock.
In need of a final possession, the Cardinal fouled a stalling Duarte, sending the senior to the foul line once more, where he netted the second of two attempts to stretch the Ducks’ lead to two. An unsuccessful catch-and-shoot three-pointer from Williams on the other end with four seconds left sealed the deal.
Williams ended the night with 12 points, Davis recorded 13 and Jones added 11 to go along with a team-high 15 from Delaire.
With the defeat, which follows a triple-overtime upset loss to Washington State, Stanford’s chances of an NCAA tournament seem far slimmer than most expected heading into the season. Just one home game remains on the Cardinal’s schedule, with Oregon State visiting on Saturday. A final matchup against USC in Los Angeles will round out Stanford’s regular season play.
Tip off against the Beavers is set for 4 p.m. on Saturday.