January 04, 2016

Cardinal Bedeviled in Tempe

Stanford's three-game streak of blowout wins smacked to a halt in Tempe, where the Sun Devils stifled the Cardinal with an aggressive, hyper-energetic defense that held Stanford to its lowest point total ever, 31-49. The previous low was 32 against Missouri in 1984 BT (Before Tara).

The game was a tale of two defenses. Stanford's defense was its usual solid self. To hold ASU to only 49 points for the game would be enough to win on most nights. Time after time ASU was forced deep into the shot clock ‐ the loud fan to our left seemed to be yelling "Seven! Six! Five!..." on every ASU possession.

The story was different, and worse, at the other end of the floor, where Stanford rarely got deep into the shot clock before shooting and missing, or turning the ball over on a bad pass. The Sun Devils harassed whoever had the ball, forcing awkward shots and desperation passes, and pursuing every rebound to the floor.

It wasn't a question of not being able to find a rhythm. It was a case of not being able to find the basket at all. On two occasions, the Cardinal got a steal and breakaway, and both times they missed the layup.

The stats tell the dreary tale. At the half, Stanford was shooting 0.200, four of 20. At the end, their percentage had improved to 0.256, 11 of 43, and one of nine on 3-point shots (Karlie had the single make). Rebounds: 45-61, a clear reflection of ASU's determination to have the ball at any cost. Remarkably, turnovers were nearly even (17-14), because it seemed as if Stanford was forever turning the ball over without getting a shot.

Lili was the Cardinal's leading scorer with seven (two baskets and three free-throws). Karlie was next with five, and four other players scored four.

This was a clear win for the Sun Devils. They weren't given the game by the Cardinal — they took it. Their total commitment to defense revealed major weaknesses in the Cardinal game, weaknesses that will hopefully be addressed before February 14 when the Sun Devils come to Maples.

Here are game reports and commentary:

The box score and play-by-play,

A gallery of photos by Patrick Breen (Arizona Republic),

And a few photos by Ross D. Franklin (Associated Press):

Karlie steals the ball from Quinn Dornstauder
Bird tries to shoot over Quinn Dornstauder
Lili grabs a rebound from Kelsey Moos

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