STANFORD, Calif. – For the Washington State men’s basketball team to be successful, especially on the road in the Pac-10, the Cougars’ defense has to be, as coach Tony Bennett calls it, “hard-nosed and sound.”
It was neither Thursday night in Maples Pavilion and the result was a 65-54 Stanford victory.
The loss, before 6,887, drops the Cougars to 4-6 in Pac-10 play (12-10 overall) and into a three-way tie for seventh with the Cardinal and Oregon State.
“Our defense let us down,” Bennett said after Stanford (14-6 overall) shot 54.8 percent for the game and a season-high 69.2 (9 of 13) on 3-pointers.
Bennett’s assessment was echoed by his players, with Daven Harmeling saying, “If I had to throw a percentage on it, 80 to 90 percent was our fault,” and Aron Baynes adding, “That’s our fault,” when asked about Stanford’s torrid (12 of 20) second-half shooting.
“We broke down and didn’t play the tough ‘D’ we needed to,” said Baynes, who had 16 points and nine rebounds but also had six turnovers, several when he was doubled in the post.
With the defense struggling – Stanford was the first team this year to shoot better than 50 percent against WSU and its 3-point shooting percentage easily eclipsed UCLA’s 9-of-16 effort – the Cougars needed their offense to step up.
And, for the first 15 minutes, it did, powered by Klay Thompson’s outside shooting.
The freshman attacked Anthony Goods and Landry Fields aggressively, scoring half of the Cougars’ first 20 points.
But WSU, which jumped out to a 7-2 lead and led by as many as eight (15-7) in the half, stagnated late and Stanford roared back to take a 29-28 halftime lead.
It was senior Lawrence Hill, coming off a three-point game at UCLA, who carried the Cardinal, scoring 11 first-half points. He finished with 20 on 8 of 9 from the floor.
“When we were down early, he really stepped it up,” Stanford coach Johnny Dawkins said.
As did Will Paul, a 6-foot-10 sophomore center who came off the bench to score six first-half points and finish with a career-high 13, including 3 of 3 from beyond the arc. Many of Paul’s looks came courtesy of Goods’ passes, as the senior finished with a career-high seven assists.
“He’s a good shooter from behind the arc,” Dawkins said of Paul, before talking about Goods’ passing. “Anthony was the focal point of their defense and he was able to find the open guy.”
Paul’s shooting was no surprise to WSU, which worked on covering the pick-and-pop play throughout walk-through.
“We knew he could shoot it like that, we scouted him before,” said Thompson, who finished with 18 points. “They were getting a lot of open looks. They’re a good shooting team, we knew that.”
Thompson knows WSU isn’t the same offensive team without Taylor Rochestie.
Rochestie, who had two points in the first half, picked up a cheap foul – his second – in the backcourt near the end of the first half, and then another early in the second half, forcing Bennett to sit him for 5 minutes.
When he left, WSU trailed 34-32. When he returned it was 48-38. Rochestie finished with seven points and five assists, fouling out with 1:13 remaining.
“It always will” cause them to struggle on offense, Thompson said of Rochestie being on the bench, “because he’s our senior leader and our point guard. He’s really experienced, but even with Taylor out, we should still be able to hold our ground.”
Stanford 65, WSU 54
Percentages: FG .457, FT .727. 3-Point Goals: 4-10, .400 (Thompson 2-3, Rochestie 1-3, Harmeling 1-3, Harthun 0-1, Koprivica 0-1). Team Rebounds: 1. Blocked Shots: 2 (Casto, Thompson). Turnovers: 11 (Baynes 6, Casto 2, Rochestie 2, Harmeling). Steals: 5 (Thompson 3, Casto, Rochestie). Technical Fouls: None.
Percentages: FG .548, FT .667. 3-Point Goals: 9-13, .692 (Paul 3-3, Hill 2-2, Shiller 1-1, Fields 1-3, Johnson 0-1). Team Rebounds: 1. Blocked Shots: 1 (Owens). Turnovers: 11 (Johnson 3, Hill 2, Paul 2, Fields, Goods, Mann, Owens). Steals: 6 (Goods 2, Fields, Hill, Owens, Paul). Technical Fouls: None.
Halftime–Stanford 29, Washington State 28. A–6,887.
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