Washington State surged back from a double-digit deficit and gave Stanford a major challenge throughout a back-and-forth affair, but ran low on steam too early against superstar Oscar da Silva and a Cardinal men’s basketball team that’s been the Cougs’ bane in recent years.
Wazzu dropped its ninth consecutive game Saturday to Stanford, which outscored the visitors 19-5 in the final eight minutes of a 75-60 Pac-12 win at Kaiser Permanente Arena in Santa Cruz, Calif.
Standout Coug freshman post Efe Abogidi knocked down his third 3-pointer of the game with 7:53 to play, lifting Wazzu to a 55-53 advantage. From there, Stanford (8-3, 4-1) locked down defensively, and da Silva piled up 15 of his 27 points to put the pesky visitors away.
Da Silva, a senior and the Pac-12’s leading scorer, added 13 rebounds and was 10-for-18 from the field, bullying his way inside and causing matchup problems for any big body the Cougars threw at him.
“We went up in the second half, then their senior took over,” WSU coach Kyle Smith said. “It was just too much for us. You gotta give a hat tip sometimes.
“That guy, he’s just had our number, but I think he’s had the whole league’s number too. He’s in contention for being player of the year in the league, and he played like it tonight.”
WSU (9-2, 2-2) was paced by freshman Andrej Jakimovski, who poured in a career-high 19 points and hit 5-for-9 from outside. Senior point guard Isaac Bonton fueled the Cougs often, adding 18 points (7-for-13), seven assists and four steals. Senior forward Tony Miller had his best outing of the year, contributing 11 points and eight boards.
Abogidi was limited to nine points — all on 3s — but blocked two Cardinal shots. Centers Volodymyr Markovetskyy and Dishon Jackson were held scoreless.
“They pushed us around inside to be honest,” said Smith, whose team was outrebounded 37-29 and scored more than half its points from distance (11-for-24). Stanford totaled 42 points in the paint and shot 62 percent inside the arc, starting the game 10-for-10 on 2s.
“Our bigs just weren’t up to the challenge.”
In all, Stanford shot 49.1 percent — the highest mark allowed this year by WSU, which entered the game with the nation’s No. 1 field-goal percentage defense (34.22).
Wazzu played most of the game without solid sophomore guard Noah Williams, who took a hard, back-first fall late in the first half and did not return. Williams still was involved in sideline huddles, but Smith couldn’t provide a definitive update on his condition.
WSU trailed by a dozen after eight minutes, committing five turnovers against none for the hot-shooting Cardinal. Bonton keyed a 7-0 run with a steal and a breakaway dunk, but Stanford cashed in back-to-back Coug giveaways to emerge with a 12-point edge at the break.
The Cougars coughed it up 11 times in the first half and finished with 17 turnovers, tying a season-high.
“The main thing for us was to take care of the ball, and we turned it over too much,” Jakimovski said. WSU had 11 giveaways in the first half of a win at Cal on Thursday too. “That’s maybe a reason why we lost the game.”
Jakimovski and Abogidi followed each other with 3s out of the locker room and Bonton converted a brilliant layin on a fastbreak, faking a behind-the-back pass. Wazzu stormed back in it with an 8-0 spurt, and its defense also was resurgent after the Cardinal’s exceptionally efficient first half.
Stanford got a spark with a soaring, SportsCenter Top-10 dunk from freshman Ziaire Williams — a projected lottery pick in this year’s NBA draft — a couple of minutes before the game-changing rally.
“We had a chance to win,” Jakimovski said. “We just made some bad mistakes on offense and we did not stop da Silva.”
The Cardinal, who were missing starting guards Daejon Davis and Bryce Wills, got boosts from the 6-8 Williams (16 points) and 6-9 junior forward Jaiden Delaire (10).
WASHINGTON ST. (9-1)
Jakimovski 7-13 0-0 19, Abogidi 3-9 0-0 9, Jackson 0-2 0-1 0, Bonton 7-13 1-2 18, N.Williams 1-5 0-0 2, Bamba 0-6 1-2 1, Miller 3-5 5-6 11, Markovetskyy 0-0 0-0 0, Fitzgerald-Warren 0-2 0-0 0, Rosario 0-0 0-0 0, Kunc 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 21-56 7-11 60.
Delaire 4-14 2-2 10, Jones 3-7 0-0 7, Z.Williams 5-10 6-8 16, da Silva 10-19 6-9 27, O’Connell 3-5 0-0 7, Kisunas 3-3 0-0 6, Angel 0-0 2-2 2, Taitz 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 28-58 16-21 75.
Halftime: Stanford, 41-30. 3-Point Goals: Washington St. 11-24 (Jakimovski 5-9, Bonton 3-4, Abogidi 3-6, Bamba 0-1, Fitzgerald-Warren 0-1, Kunc 0-1, Miller 0-1, N.Williams 0-1), Stanford 3-17 (O’Connell 1-3, da Silva 1-3, Jones 1-4, Z.Williams 0-3, Delaire 0-4). Rebounds: Washington St. 28 (Miller 8), Stanford 32 (da Silva 13). Assists: Washington St. 12 (Bonton 7), Stanford 10 (Jones 3). Total Fouls: Washington St. 19, Stanford 15.
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