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Stanford Controls Washington from Start to Finish

Cardinal Offense Breaks Out for 91-75 Win

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: DEC 31 Arizona at Washington Photo by Jacob Snow/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Stanford handled Washington from start to finish on Thursday night with a 91-76 win in the G-League arena in Santa Cruz. The Dawgs played about as poorly as possible in the first 10 minutes and fell behind by double digits to stay. UW showed signs of life in the second half with 54 points in the stanza, though it was too little too late. Washington didn’t shoot well, turned the ball over too much, missed layups, and struggled to defend against interior passing. It was a recipe for a wall-to-wall loss.

On the bright side, Marcus Tsohonis showed signs of life offensively after a poor start to the season. Although his 8-21 shooting was not the most efficient, the 24 points were a welcome sight for an offense that has struggled to produce efficiently. Jamal Bey, J’Raan Brooks, and Cole Bajema also came out of various stages of offensive funks. Quade Green came off the bench and sparked the offense, but also struggled from the floor.

With their starting guards out of the lineup, the frontcourt took over the game for Stanford. Star freshman Zaire Williams had a balanced output with a 12 point, 12 rebound, 10 assist triple double . Spencer Jones snapped out of his shooting slump with 18 points on 6-9 shooting (4-6 on threes). Star big man Oscar da Silva had his usual hard-nosed 17 points and 10 rebounds.

Consistently throughout the game, Stanford gave UW fits in picking apart the 2-3 zone. The Cardinal overloaded one side with swing passes or dribble penetration and hit cutters coming from the weak side with clever interior passing. Even without starting guards Daejon Davis and Bryce Wills, Stanford showed ample playmaking. Combined with UW’s consistent defensive rebounding woes, it was one of the more surgical dissections of the UW zone in recent memory.

The offensive struggles were more recognizable. Early on, Washington was able to get some reasonably good looks from outside, but could not buy a basket. As the half continued, seemingly every ball-handler had a possession or two where he was too loose with the ball and the turnover count mounted. When a team struggles off the dribble, doesn’t get to the line, shoots poorly from outside, and doesn’t offensive rebound, it’s not surprising that they would fall behind early.

From the opening tip, the game’s trajectory looked eerily familiar. Quade Green did not start the game after missing practice with an illness earlier in the week. Without Green, the Husky offense fired blanks for the first several minutes of the game. Washington’s first seven possessions ended with a missed shot or a turnover. Stanford mixed threes and layups in an effective dissection of the 2-3 zone to jump out to a 12-0 lead.

The Husky defense clamped down over the next several minutes, but the offense barely improved. A Nate Roberts layup and a Quade Green three were the only points in the first 12 minutes of the game. Green appeared to have an easy layup with about 8:30 remaining in the half. Instead, Stanford chased him down and blocked his shot. Cole Bajema grabbed the rebound and also got blocked from behind. On the other end, Spencer Jones and Oscar da Silva got enough good looks in transition and on the offensive glass to stretch Stanford’s lead to 20.

After a merciful Mike Hopkins timeout, Jamal Bey hit a pair from long range to cut the lead to 14. Shortly after, Green took a shot in the leg, leaving him with a noticeable limp, but he stayed in the game. With Green hobbled, Marcus Tsohonis showed some offensive signs of life with a couple made floaters. Stanford continued clever passing and cutting against the zone to get clean looks at the rim. Jones continued his uncharacteristically hot shooting with a three at the end of the half to push the lead back to 17 and further dishearten the Huskies.

The improved shooting from Tsohonis lasted through halftime with a pair of threes from the corner. The makes didn’t do much to chip into the lead while the Cardinal got two more easy buckets after missed defensive rotations. Tsohonis, Bey, and even J’Raan Brooks kept the offense humming. Stanford’s interior passing generated offense, but the Dawgs still chipped away and got the margin to 57-46 at the under-12 timeout.

Patrick Williams and some intensified defensive pressure helped Stanford push the lead back to 20. The Dawgs continued to show signs of life. Cole Bajema made a three and followed it with a nice save that led to another bucket. Riley Sorn committed a hard foul on a fast break and earned a flagrant with a follow-through that hit Jaden Delaire in the face. Delaire and the other Stanford big men held the lead steady from that point forward. The only drama in the closing minutes was whether Williams would complete his triple double. He did, and Stanford won 91-75.