A loss in a four over-time game might have had lingering psychological effects on the young Stanford…
And 1: Stanford 103, Oregon State 101 (4OT)
And oh yeah, everyone found out just how tough-minded the Farm Boys are in an instant-classic four-overtime thriller that went the way of the team from the Bay.
Sixty minutes. 103-101. Un-freaking-believable. I don't even know where to begin.
How about this for starters - this was the best road win of the Johnny Dawkins Era. Arizona State back in 2009 was a good one, especially since the Sun Devils were ranked. Washington State last year was solid.
But Arizona State was already a lock for the tournament and Stanford was in control of both that game and the Cougar one for pretty much the whole way through.
Oregon State NEEDED this one. From a standings standpoint, the Beavers needed it more than the Cardinal. Gill Coliseum was getting BUCK, and Craig Robinson's side jumped out to a 15-point first half lead.
Previous Dawkins teams wouldn't have pulled this one out. Previous Dawkins teams would have seen Roberto Nelson drain two threes without a shoe, let the lead balloon to 20, make a pretty good comeback in the second half to cut the lead to single digits, but eventually lose by 12 points or so.
There was a new script on Saturday night that allowed for extra mental toughness, intestinal fortitude and true grit to be written in. You don't win a game like this without taking punches - or being tackled, as was the case for Josh Huestis - and fighting through adversity.
Adversity, there was a ton of. Stanford was looking alright through the first six minutes, trailing by just a pair. But then came the Beavers Blitzkrieg - an 18-5 run that featured shoeless Ro' knocking down consecutive treys. Stanford would push back, only to see Oregon State extend that lead again.
What might get lost in a three-hour, eight-minute game that featured six periods of basketball is that Stanford was down by at least three or four possessions for the majority of the regulation. The game was so tight for the last 32 minutes that in the heat of the moment, you almost forgot that Oregon State was in almost total control for the first 28. This game was played at Oregon State's pace. At 43-36 at the break and 60-51 with 12 minutes to play, this one was headed towards the 80s in 40 minutes - just where the Beavs like it.
But then the Stanford D picked it up, holding the Beavers to just 16 points in the final 12 minutes of regulation, and 25 points over the 20 minutes' worth of overtimes. Quick math without using a calculator - Oregon State was on an 86-point regulation pace through the first 28 minutes; the Beavers were held to a roughly 52-point regulation pace for the last 32.
The key for me? Holding Jared Cunningham and Ahmad Starks in check. Considering how Devoe Joseph did against the Card, I figured that if the Dannaman Bay Area-to-Chicagoland connection was held to a combined 39 points or fewer, Stanford would be in it. Mission accomplished as the two totaled 32 (there's that number again - if it were reversed, Jim Carrey might go on a killing spree).
More importantly, they were a combined 9-33 from the field. Every time one of the two brought the ball up the court, I was expecting him to pull up and rock the Cardinal perimeters to sleep.
That shot almost never happened, as Aaron Bright and company were able to hound those two off that quick shot. This was especially important in the last couple of overtimes - before Aaron fouled out, he was as good as he has been all year on the defensive end, playing for a long time with four fouls and not letting Starks get that three off. There were some switches with Dwight on the perimeter that I know some people on the forum weren't happy with, but I'd rather have Starks get lay-up than let him get his shot going. And with Aaron having four fouls, that switch almost had to happen.
Speaking of the man Aaron was switching with, Dwight came to play. Stanford doesn't win that game if it wasn't for Dwight Powell playing like a grown-ass man. He didn't get his offense going until late, but his activity earlier on- getting tough rebounds and being more involved in the offense - let him build his confidence. By the time he got his first couple of buckets with the offensive put-backs, Dwight was in the zone. By the time he caught the ball on the block with Burton on his back, that beautiful baby hook that Dwight rarely shows off was undoubtedly going through the net.
For someone who needed to show up in the worst way possible, Dwight came through. This can be a springboard-type performance for him that propels him to greater heights throughout the regular season. That's as big as ten points and 11 rebounds can get.
Without question, Chasson Randle was the MVP of the game. His career-high 24 was, well, just what all Cardinal fans dreamed of Chasson being at his peak. He missed some layups in regulation, but I didn't mind those at all as they were tough takes to the rack that only furthered my belief that when Chasson runs the offense, good things happen.
Jarrett Mann fouling out in overtime was maybe the best thing that could have happened for Stanford. Not because Jarrett Mann had a bad game - in fact, Jarrett was VERY solid on Saturday night and hit two HUGE free throws late in the second half, in addition to being a pest on defense and taking it to the hoop with a purpose - but because that meant more touches for the Rock Island Rookie. And when it came time for OT número cuatro, número cinco made sure a fifth extra period wouldn't be realized.
A three-pointer right off the bat. Then a layup. When Oregon State had cut it back down to one with a minute to play, Chasson went back into Greg Jennings mode and gave Stanford what would turn out to be the game-winning field goal. And he's just a freshman…
Bumping back up to the sophomore class, Anthony Brown showed me something last night. He didn't have the best shooting night, but he played with an edge, a little bit of nastiness. He had a mean mug going from start to finish, and it translated into an aggressive Anthony that didn't shy away from knocking down the biggest three of his life to send the game into a fourth overtime. He had a questionable take to the hoop in transition in that final OT that resulted in two missed free throws - Stanford was probably better suited bleeding the clock there - but he tried to make an Ali Farokhmanesh game-winning play instead of a game-conserving play, and I will always salute going for the dagger.
A couple of other plays I want to give my two pesos on, the first being the Josh Owens non-buzzer-beater at the end of regulation. I agreed with the ruling 100 percent. It was a tough call to make, but it looked like the ball was still on Josh's fingertips as the red lights lit up behind the backboard. Heck of a play Josh made there regardless, and he found a way to go for 16 and 11 despite not getting the ball consistently (a result of good interior Oregon State defense). It was the right call.
The flagrant foul not given to Roberto Nelson wasn't. I mean, dude straight tackled Josh Huestis. Roberto is a good kid who got frustrated because he lost control of the ball on a potential game-winning layup, but last I checked, a hard foul without making a play on the ball is grounds for a flagrant foul. If a Goldberg-esque spear doesn't fit that definition, I don't know what does. I mean, I know Stanford and a Halloween OSU team played on the gridiron last Monday, but this wasn't the Fiesta Bowl. Gill Coliseum doesn't look anything like the University of Phoenix Stadium, so I'm not sure what gives. It's almost as if the referees huddled together and said "Hey, if we call this a flagrant like we originally signaled, then Oregon State won't have a chance to come back and tie or win. This game has been too good - we don't want that to happen!"
But again, that non-call should have been expected because You Know Who was on the officiating crew. I know I should get over my pointless and immature grudge, but I'm always aware of when Brill is in the stripes for a Stanford game. He's certainly not the worst Pac-12 official; refs in this conference as a whole tend to be intimidated by home crowds in big moments, and Saturday night was the latest example.
At the end of the day, it didn't matter, as the Card improved to 4-8 in Brill games since the LA Screwjob; the fourth being their first win on the road in such contests. More importantly, Stanford is 3-1 in the Pac-12 and just a half-game behind the Buffs; a team that hasn't played a road game in the conference and will meet the Card in Maples next Saturday.
The split was achieved and Stanford is still on schedule; it just took three halves instead of two.
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