Stanford men’s basketball (14-10, 7-7 Pac-12) fell on the road to Oregon (16-7, 9-3 Pac-12) on Thursday evening. It was a game marred by offensive struggles for the Cardinal, as high turnovers and poor 3-point shooting squandered a crucial Quadrant 1 opportunity.
Both offenses struggled out of the gate, with the game knotted up at four apiece at the 16:30 mark. But things picked up quickly, as the Ducks hit two threes to grab a 10-4 lead.
After narrowing the Ducks’ lead to two points, the Cardinal offense sputtered to a halt, going almost four minutes without a point.
The Cardinal’s offense did not improve much to close the half, but their defense held up enough for them to stay competitive — Stanford was only down 24-32, despite turning the ball over 13 times and shooting 20 percent from deep in the first half.
“The turnovers in the first half were defining for us: three assists, 13 turnovers showed that it wasn’t a lack of desire to make plays for others — but the pressure caused us to just put our head down and not be able to see other players,” head coach Jerod Haase said.
Freshman forward Harrison Ingram put up five points along with three turnovers, while senior forward Jaiden Delaire went into the break still searching for his first points.
Oregon ripped off an 8-2 run to begin the second half, extending its lead to 14.
But Stanford would not go away quietly. The Cardinal defense continued to hold up, and the offense began to find open lanes to the hoop. Four consecutive layups made up an 8-0 run for the Cardinal which shrunk the lead to six with 14 minutes to play.
Stanford later cut the lead all the way down to three, but Oregon began to find its offensive footing again. Ducks guard Will Richardson, who was held scoreless through the first 30 minutes, connected on two layups as Oregon stretched its lead back to nine with seven minutes to go.
Even as Stanford continued its solid defensive effort, the Ducks’ offense did not slow down. Oregon guard De’Vion Harmon hit difficult shots to put himself at 21 points on the evening.
Despite two late threes from Stanford, the Ducks held on for a 68-60 victory.
“Defensively, I thought we were really good, especially in the second half,” Haase said. “We need to give them a lot of credit: they have experience, big-time players and made some really highly contested shots in the late game, and we have to tip our hat to them and tell them they did a hell of a job.”
Sophomore guard Michael O’Connell and freshman forward Maxime Raynaud led the Cardinal in scoring with 11 points each. O’Connell came off injured and was carried into the locker room in the final minute of the contest.
Ingram put up 10 points, and sophomore forward Brandon Angel recorded his first career double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds. Delaire finished scoreless.
Harmon led the Ducks in scoring with a game-high 21, while Richardson and center N’Faly Dante racked up double-digit scoring as well. The Ducks were able to maintain a strong defensive effort the entire evening, preventing the Cardinal from finding open looks in the paint.
Stanford’s struggles could be boiled down to two things on Thursday night: turnovers and three-point shooting. The Cardinal turned the ball over 17 times, 13 of which came in the first half, and shot 6-25 from behind the arc.
The loss puts the Cardinal’s at-large bid prospects for the NCAA tournament in serious trouble. Their final six regular-season games include five projected Quadrant 3 contests, with a Quadrant 1 opportunity against No. 4 Arizona (21-2, 11-1 Pac-12). Stanford will need a run, both in these last regular season games and in the Pac-12 tournament, to find a place in the bracket.
That run will need to start Saturday in Corvallis, where Stanford will take on Oregon State (3-18, 1-10 Pac-12) at 7:30 p.m. PT.