USC too much for the Cardinal as men’s hoops concludes regular season on a sour note

March 3, 2021, 11:31 p.m.

A dismal offensive performance from Stanford men’s basketball (14-12, 10-10 Pac-12) saw the Cardinal soundly beaten by USC (20-6, 14-5 Pac-12) 79-42. Stanford’s final deficit of 37 points matches the program’s largest loss to the Trojans, a mark previously set during the 1952-53 season. 

No Cardinal player scored in double figures as sophomore guard Spencer Jones and freshman forward Brandon Angel both finished with nine points. Efficient shooting nights from fifth-year guard Tahj Eaddy and junior guard Drew Peterson paced USC. The duo finished with 16 points and 15 points respectively. 

Senior forward Oscar da Silva missed his third straight game with a “lower extremity” injury. Senior guard Daejon Davis and junior guard Bryce Wills also did not see the floor. Head coach Jerod Haase boiled it down to a “coach’s decision” but did add that the pair were still banged up. 

Both teams got off to a slow start, exchanging turnovers and missed shots until Eaddy hit a mid-range jumper at the 17:54 mark. Stanford’s Jones responded immediately with a layup at the other end. That would be the Cardinal’s last bucket for the next eight minutes. 

From there it was all USC as the Trojans went on a 15-0 run to break open the game. Stanford could not buy a bucket and was continuously plagued by turnovers. At the under-eight media timeout, the Cardinal had as many made field goals (two) as shot clock violations. 

Stanford would score 11 points in the final four minutes of the half, but it was not enough to close the gap. 

At the half, the Cardinal had 11 turnovers and shot just 22% from the floor. Jones was the team’s leading scorer with five points. Fifth-year forward Chevez Goodwin led the way for USC with eight, as the Trojans managed to go 53.3% from the field. 

The second half did not get any better for Stanford. After Jones scored the first points of the half for either side on a layup, the Trojans embarked on a 14-0 run, spearheaded by Eaddy and Peterson. 

For much of the second half, Haase played a young lineup, sometimes having four freshmen on the court at once. There was nothing Stanford could do to chip away at the Trojan lead, as USC seemingly was able to pick their spots with ease on offense. 

Freshman forward Ziaire Williams struggled in his first start since Jan. 16, scoring two points on 1-of-8 shooting from the field. He was not alone as junior forward Jaiden Delaire only had six points on 3-of-14 shooting. Overall, the Cardinal shot 25.4% from the floor, its lowest field goal percentage of the season. 

“It’s pretty simple, we were manhandled early and often. Defensively, we couldn’t get stops,” Haase said of his team’s performance. “On the offensive end, not making shots, I thought there were a couple early that didn’t go that maybe in the past we would’ve made. I think that shook our confidence.”  

Stanford will need to try to quickly put this game in the rear-view mirror and get ready to play in the Pac-12 Tournament next week. For much of the season the Cardinal have hovered on the NCAA Tournament bubble, but with this latest loss, the odds of receiving an at-large bid appear slim. It might just take a conference championship to qualify for the Big Dance. 

“I’m hopeful that we will have a full roster [next week], and not only a full roster, but a roster where we can be cohesive with everything,” Haase said about his plans for the conference tournament. 

The 2021 Pac-12 Men’s Basketball Tournament will begin Wednesday, Mar. 10. Stanford currently sits in 7th place and will await the results of the remaining conference regular season matchups before finding out who they will take on.

Ells Boone is a desk editor for the sports section. He is a sophomore from Virginia Beach, Virginia, studying communication and economics. You can catch him waking up early on weekend mornings to watch his favorite Premier League team, Tottenham Hotspur, play. Contact him at eboone24 'at' stanforddaily.com.

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