As the game clock’s final seconds ticked away in Maples Pavilion on Sunday, the score was tied. Fans were on their feet. And senior forward Jaiden Delaire was holding his follow through on a three-pointer that was still in the air.
Moments later, Delaire’s shot fell to secure a 72-69 win for the Cardinal as time expired.
Including the last-second launch, a game-high 20-point performance by Delaire was instrumental in Stanford men’s basketball’s (5-3, 1-1 Pac-12) defeat of Oregon (5-5, 0-2 Pac-12).
Entering the matchup, both teams were looking for their first conference victory. The Cardinal fell to Colorado (8-3, 1-1 Pac-12) in their last outing, and the Ducks came up empty-handed in a 67-69 OT loss versus Arizona State (4-6, 1-1 Pac-12).
Oregon’s start to the season can be characterized in one word: disappointment. After back-to-back Pac-12 titles and a Sweet Sixteen run in the NCAA tournament last season, the Ducks were slated to finish second in the Pac-12 preseason media poll. A pair of blowout losses and an overtime loss to start off Pac-12 play, however, put a wrinkle in their plans, and they continued to fail to live up to their expectations after Sunday night’s game.
Stanford, meanwhile, has had its share of ups and downs. Most notably, a 72-88 loss to Santa Clara (7-4, 0-0 WCC) and a 48-86 beating from No. 2 Baylor (9-0, 0-0 Big 12) suggested that the Cardinal would not be in a position to compete with Oregon. Regardless, they walked away with their first win against Oregon since the 2019-20 season.
At first, the game was a back-and-forth affair. Both teams exchanged looks inside until Stanford was able to pull away with a 14-7 lead. The Ducks responded with a run of their own, however, going up 25-20 after forcing seven Cardinal turnovers in just seven and a half minutes.
After three straight three-point attempts fell for the Cardinal, the score sat at 30-30 with 4:20 to play before the break — but an offensive stalemate, defined by the 11 consecutive missed shots from both sides, left the score tied with just over a minute in the half.
That last minute was all Stanford needed though to shift the momentum and enter halftime with a 37-30 lead. They finished the half on a 7-0 run, highlighted by a last-second dunk from freshman forward Harrison Ingram.
Early in the second half, the Cardinal continued to extend their lead, going up 47-34, and even held a 58-48 lead with 10 minutes left to play. In response, Oregon began extending their defense into the full court. They kept the Cardinal offense guessing, running an array of traps and presses that retreated back into a half-court defense of both 2-3 zones and man-to-man defense.
“We’d been preparing all week for them, for all the things that they could throw at us,” sophomore guard Michael O’Connell said. “The zones, the man, the pressure. So just doing what we’ve been practicing. All the guys know what we’re supposed to be doing, so just relying on each other moving the ball, we were able to break [the press] pretty well.”
Despite the poise from O’Connell, the Ducks’ pressure enabled them to chip away at the Cardinal lead. With two and a half minutes left in the game, a layup from Oregon’s redshirt senior guard Jacob Young gave the visitors a 65-66 edge — their first lead in nearly 22 minutes of game time.
The two teams battled back and forth until the score sat at 69-69. The Ducks were afforded an opportunity to take the lead, but senior guard Will Richardon’s three-point attempt came up short. Stanford called timeout with 3.0 seconds remaining.
“[Head] Coach [Jerod Haase] drew up a quick play in the huddle,” Delaire said. ”I had never seen it before. We had two shooters coming off — I set screens for Noah going into the corner and Spencer going into the opposite corner — and I flashed hard to the ball.”
“Harrison [Ingram] threw it to me … I had probably two dribbles with three seconds on the clock and then just turned around, saw the line, saw the rim and let it go.”
And let it go he did. From the left wing, Delaire knocked down the buzzer-beating triple that sent Oregon home with their second conference loss and gave Stanford its first Pac-12 win of the season.
“The credit wholly and all the way goes to Jaiden,” Haase said of the final play’s success. “That’s a big-time shot by a senior that’s been in the program who’s had some really high highs in our program and has struggled at times. I’m really proud of him to produce today and be able to have a moment like that.”
Next up for the Cardinal is another Maples Pavilion matchup against Dartmouth (3-5, 0-0 Ivy League) on Thursday night at 7 p.m. PT.