Jan. 10, 2013
STANFORD, Calif.- Aaron Bright needed a game like this. He's been struggling all season to find his shot. It all came back at once.
Bright scored a season-high 21 points, Dwight Powell added 16 points and 11 rebounds and Stanford earned its first Pac-12 victory, beating Washington State 78-67 Wednesday night.
"It's starting to come around," Bright said. "My ankle is getting better and we just focused on running a lot of motion and pushing the ball."
Chasson Randle added 16 points for the Cardinal (10-6, 1-2 Pac-12), which ended a two-game slide.
"It was good to see the ball go in," Cardinal head coach Johnny Dawkins said. "You could see it coming. He's had good practices and he's been productive."
Bright reached double figures for just the fourth time. He missed four games with a sprained ankle and said it feels 90-95 percent healthy.
"Aaron always brings it on practice," said Powell, who had four blocked shots. "I'm not surprised by what he did."
Brock Motum matched his season-high with 29 points, scoring 21 in the second half, to lead the Cougars (9-6, 0-2 Pac-12), who had won seven of their last nine. Mike Ladd added 15 points and Royce Woolridge had 10.
"They made the shots and free throws at the end when it counted," Motum said. "They just did everything textbook -- they hit all their free throws and the rebounds went to them."
D.J. Shelton hit consecutive 3-pointers to tie the game at 37 with just under 13 minutes remaining. The lead changed hands six times afterward.
The Cougars led by five with 7:10 remaining to play. Josh Huestis hit a 3-pointer 18 seconds later, sparking a 20-4 run over the next five minutes to put the Cardinal in control.
"We came out with a defensive focus and started to relax on offense," Powell said. "We started playing off each other's energy."
Bright was 5-7 from the field, including a 3-4 effort from long range. He also made all eight of his free throw attempts. He was 7-28 over his past three games combined, 1-11 from 3-point range.
Stanford made its first 24 free throw attempts before Andy Brown missed two in the final 30 seconds.
The 78 points allowed matched an opponents' high for Washington State, which also gave up 78 to Kansas. The Cougars entered the game as the conference's top defensive team.
Stanford, which shot over 52 percent from the field, came in as the worst shooting team in the conference.
"In its simplest form, they made shots and we didn't," Cougars' coach Ken Bone said. "Along with that, I thought our energy was a little bit deflated. When they did start making some shot, all of sudden they were up by 8, 10, 12 and I thought that hurt us emotionally."
Randle and Bright each hit a 3-pointer in the last five minutes to help Stanford take a 27-23 lead into halftime.
- by Rick Eymer, Associated Press
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NOTES: Stanford has not lost a conference home opener since 2009 ... The Cardinal improves to 70-59 all-time against Washington State ... In four career games against Washington State, Aaron Bright was 8-8 from the foul line and has made 24 consecutive free throws dating back to Nov. 18 against Alcorn State ... Josh Huestis pulled down seven rebounds, snapping a streak of four consecutive games of 10+ rebounding. Prior to Huestis, the last Cardinal player to record four straight 10+ rebounding games was Brook Lopez in March of 2008 ... Stanford was 24-26 from the foul line compared to Washington State's 6-9 mark ... The game featured six ties and 12 lead changes ... The Cardinal held a 35-27 edge on the glass, outrebounding its opponent for the 10th time this year ... Stanford shot over 50.0 percent for only the second time this year ... Stanford is 75-20 at home dating back to the start of the 2007-08 campaign ... Next up is an 8 p.m. contest against Washington on Saturday, Jan. 12. The game will be televised by FSN.
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Stanford Head Coach Johnny Dawkins
"Well, it was good to see the ball go in. Guys did a really good job tonight of moving the basketball, keeping good spacing and shooting the basketball, and that was a good thing for us. I thought we defended well because they do a lot of things to get Brock Motum the basketball. I thought our guys, for the most part, did a good job of staying focused, especially in the first half when they were trying to establish him. To hold them to 23 points in the first half was a great defensive effort for our guys. Also, I thought our student section and band were terrific. They provided us with a boost of energy throughout the game and down the stretch when we really needed it."
"I told him Aaron in the locker room I was very happy for him. He not only had a chance to have a breakout game, but against a team from his home area. That's always exciting because you know everyone's watching that for him and we hadn't had a chance for that to happen in previous years. So I was really happy for him."
"I think they got up by four or five around the nine-minute mark, and I'm going, `Ok, we've got to stringing together some stops.' I thought Josh Huestis really stepped up and hit a big three that kind of gave us some momentum and kept it close enough where we could continue to build. I thought we did a good job of mixing up our defense down the stretch. I thought going to some zone -- which you know I typically won't do -- I think it kind of slowed them down a little bit around the end."
"Dwight was terrific. As we talked about him in the locker room, he was a man tonight. He just really did a good job controlling the lanes, making it difficult for them to score over the top of him. He hit a number of assignments, guarded both bigs, Shelton and Motum, at times, and he did a good job. We ask a lot of him, to rebound, defend, score, and you know what? He never blinks. He doesn't mind putting the weight on his shoulders and I'm just really proud of his growth."
"We had been shooting the ball well from the line for most of the season. The last three or four games we hadn't shot it as well, so I was wondering when we would get back to that again because that's something we have done well this season. I think we're shooting in the 70's. One time, we were at 75 percent, until the last three or four games. So I'm always excited when our guys draw fouls, because I'm confident that they're going to step up and make them."
Stanford junior Dwight Powell
"Obviously, we always come out with a defensive focus. That was the most important thing for us so we can relax on offense, and then just doing that, relaxing on offense, sharing the ball more, just playing through each other - that was our focus."
"I think we were just playing off each other's energy down the stretch. A great crowd was here, and we were trying to get as many stops as we could in a row, and guys were hitting shots."
"Aaron (Bright) always brings it in practice, absolutely. He's one of our leaders on the team, one of our captains. He shows up to every practice, every game. I'm not surprised at all by his performance - it's what he does."
Stanford junior Aaron Bright
"The past couple practices we've been focusing on running, pushing the ball and just playing out of motion. Not running a whole lot of sets, you know what I mean? So I think it was just our ball movement and everyone being aggressive. The shots started falling after that."
"We came out and ran a lot out of motion where it's kind of like freelance. Chasson and I are kind of just trying to create plays out there. Not just coming down and standing around and watching Dwight and Josh go to work. There was a lot more ball movement offensively."
"I was thinking, 'if we lose, practice tomorrow is going to be awful.' We stuck together and like I said, I think our aggressiveness, everyone on the team had an aggressive mindset, and it translated into buckets."
Washington State Head Coach Ken Bone
"In its simplest form, they made shots and we didn't. Along with that, I thought our energy was a little bit deflated. When they did start making some shots, all of sudden they were up by 8, 10, 12 and I thought that hurt us emotionally. I thought we dropped our heads a little bit, and didn't play as hard as we had been playing."
"They went zone, and we scored right away against it. Then they went man, then zone, then man again and then when they went into that run, they hit shot after shot after shot. The momentum changed -- that might be my fault. I told the guys that maybe I didn't sub enough early in the game to keep guys fresh, so I need to look at what decisions I made during the game, too."
"The first 30 minutes of the game I thought we defended well. From the seven-minute mark to the two-minute mark of the second half they were extremely efficient and we just couldn't get stops when we needed to. It's not like we lost to a weak team. There's a reason they won the NIT last year."
Washington senior Brock Motum
"They made the shots and free throws at the end when it counted. They just did everything textbook -- they hit all their free throws and the rebounds went to them. Who knows how momentum works?"
"I wouldn't say we had a lack of energy. I'd just say they hit their shots, and really some contested and tough shots. At the end I was telling our guys to foul, but I looked around and didn't know who to foul, because they were all making their shots."