There’s no getting around the fact that Stanford’s 103-101 four-overtime victory over Oregon State on Saturday was big for a number of reasons — besides the fact that it was the longest game in the history of either Oregon State or Stanford basketball.
First of all, it was the first significant road win for the Cardinal, whose only previous road victories had come against UC Davis and Seattle, who have a combined one victory over Division I foes.
Second, it came against a pretty good Oregon State team that had handled Cal rather decisively just two days earlier, and the Cardinal did it with a new starting lineup.
Third, it showed the Cardinal could score points, something it had not demonstrated for most of the season.
Fourth, Stanford twice rallied from double-digit deficits, something that’s not easy for a young team in a hostile environment. The Beavers held a 15-point lead midway through the first half, and led by 12 points nearly five minutes into the second half. But the Cardinal plugged away and got back in the game.
Fifth, road teams seldom win overtime games, particuarly four-overtime games. The home team typically has more energy provided by the crowd, while Stanford was coming off a decisive loss to Oregon.
Sixth, and perhaps most important, it was a breakout game for freshman Chasson Randle, who was taken out of the starting lineup for the first time this season, but responded to the “demotion” by having the best game of his career. He had 24 points, and he scored seven of the Cardinal’s eight points in the final overtime period, including a jumper with 39 seconds left to give the Cardinal a three-point lead.
The Cardinal won the game after coach Johnny Dawkins had juggled his starting lineup. Besides starting Jarrett Mann in place of Randle, Dawkins started 6-9 sophomore John Gage instead of Andrew Zimmermann. Randle had been 9-for-32 from the field in the first three conference games and was held under his scoring average of 11.9 a game in all three. But he responded well coming off the bench. It will be interesting to see what starting lineup Stanford uses in Thursday’s home game against Utah.
Gage hit 2 of 3 three-point shots, and Mann helped contain Oregon State’s high-scoring Jared Cunningham, who finished with 19 points but was 4-for-16 from the field. The Beavers’ other top scorer, guard Ahmad Starks, was 5-for-17 from the field while scoring 13 points.
One perhaps unnoticed aspect of the victory was the apparent emergence of Dwight Powell. He had been noticeably unproductive in the first three conference games, totaling four points in the three games, including a scoreless outing against Oregon on Thursday. But he had 10 points and 11 rebounds against the Beavers. The 11 boards tied a career high and more than doubled his previous season high. Powell is a player who relies on confidence, and when he gets into a good groove during a game, he can be impressive. That has seldom happened this season before Saturday.
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