Despite a late run from Stanford (13-8, 6-5 in Pac-12) to pull within three after trailing by 16, WSU (13-7, 6-3) got clutch stops on defense and bigman Efe Abogidi knocked home three free throws to allow the Cougars to escape.
WSU came out the gates strong on both ends of the court. Guards Michael Flowers and Tyrell Roberts combined for 22 points and four three-pointers in the first half. As a team, the Cougars shot 54% from the field and 6-of-12 from three in the first twenty minutes. Defensively, they shut down the Cardinal, who couldn’t get anything going from the field, shooting just 8-of-28 (29%) and 3-of-16 (19%) from three.
Stanford kept themselves in the game by using the fourth tallest roster in the nation (per kenpom.com) to pull in 11 first half offensive rebounds which led to eight second chance points. The Cardinal pulling in 55% of their misses allowed Stanford to go into the locker room only trailing by 12 in a game that felt controlled so far by the Cougars on both ends.
The Cougar offense grew colder as the second half went on, allowing Stanford to slowly crawl back into the game.
After the Cardinal pulled within four with 13:02 to go, the Cougars went on a 12-1 run to push the lead back to a comfortable 15 points. Flowers hit his third three of the game with 8:04 to go to give WSU its largest lead of the game at 16.
But, just like last month, the Cardinal wouldn’t go down quietly.
They rattled off a 19-6 run over the next seven minutes and with just over a minute to go, the Cougars suddenly found themselves in a one possession game for the first time since they led 3-0 in the first minute of the game.
Following an ill-advised deep three attempt from Flowers, the Cardinal got the ball with 47 seconds left and a chance to tie the game. Isa Silva missed the three from the corner and the Cardinal fouled Abogidi on the rebound attempt to send the big man to the line. Abogidi, shooting 79.1% from the line coming into Thursday’s game, hit one to push the lead to four. Harrison Ingram missed from three and the Cardinal again fouled Abogidi. He hit both free throws, Stanford’s desperation three missed, and the Cougars narrowly held on to pick up a major conference win in the opening game of the California road trip.
WSU were the better team for a majority of the game, shooting nearly 50% from the field and holding Stanford to just 39% on the other end. Stanford’s length allowed the Cardinal to collect 16 offensive rebounds to keep them in it, as well as some untimely turnovers down the stretch. But the Cougars held strong and were carried by a season-high 22 points from Flowers.
The win puts WSU at 6-3 in conference and if results can fall their way, they could find themselves sitting at fourth in the conference by the end of the night.
The Cougars will look for a weekend sweep as they head to Berkley to play the California Golden Bears on Saturday at 1 p.m.