STANFORD, Calif.- Josh Huestis scored 18 points to lead four players in double figures as defensive-minded Stanford raced past Northwestern 71-58 on Thursday night at Maples Pavilion.
Chasson Randle (14), Anthony Brown (12) and Stefan Nastic (11) also reached double digits in scoring, as Stanford (2-1) shot 51.1 percent overall. The Cardinal was also 5-10 from the 3-point line and 18-26 from the charity stripe.
But the story of the game was a lock-down defensive effort in the second half. Leading 29-27 at halftime, Stanford smothered Northwestern (1-1) over the final 20 minutes, limiting the Wildcats to 33.3 percent shooting and a 2-13 mark to open the period. The Cardinal was never threatened the rest of the way.
It was exactly the type of performance head coach Johnny Dawkins was looking for following Monday’s 112-103 loss to BYU in which the Cougars connected on 53.5 percent shooting and scored the most points by a Stanford opponent since UCLA’s 114 back in 1977.
Huestis also accounted for seven of Stanford’s 33 rebounds, while Brown and Grant Verhoeven chipped in with eight boards apiece to limit the Wildcats’ second-chance opportunities.
Northwestern was led by JerShon Cobb’s game-high 19 points. The Wildcats connected on 10-28 from three-point territory.
The back-and-forth first half featured two ties and six lead changes, with the Cardinal taking a late lead following a three-pointer from Huestis.
Stanford jumped its lead to double digits at 43-33 following two free throws from Brown at the 11:15 mark of the second half.
The Cardinal’s biggest advantage came with just over three minutes to play when a lay-up from Randle increased the margin to 64-46.
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NOTES: Stanford improved to 6-2 all-time against Northwestern and has won five of the last six meetings … The Cardinal finished 18-26 from the foul line, led by Anthony Brown’s 6-6 clip. Stanford is shooting 72.8 percent (59-81) from the charity stripe so far this year … 11 different Cardinal players appeared in the game. Marcus Allen and Schuyler Rimmer made their collegiate debuts while Jack Ryan appeared in his first game since 2012 … Through three games, Stefan Nastic has attempted nearly as many free throws (12) than field goals (16) … Stanford improved to 54-18 against non-conference opponents under head coach Johnny Dawkins … Dwight Powell (nine points, 3-5 FG, three rebounds, four assists) was hampered by early foul trouble and played 25 minutes … Chasson Randle played 29 minutes, representing only the third time in the last 20 games he was not on the court for at least 30 minutes … Stanford next plays its first road game of the year, traveling to Denver on Sunday, Nov. 17, for an 11 a.m. PT tip.
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Stanford Head Coach Johnny Dawkins
“I’m really, really happy with our guys defensively. I really challenged them in the last few days and liked the way they responded. This team can really shoot the basketball. The kids that Coach Collins inherited are all from the Princeton offense, so they all are capable 3-point shooters, so we knew we needed to guard the perimeter. I thought our guys overall did a good job. I thought late they knocked some down, but for the most part, we really contained the 3-point shooters. I’m really proud of our guys’ overall effort.”
“Absolutely, we talked about Drew (Crawford), and he had 13 at the half. And we were like, ‘Hey, we have to contain him, find him, stay with him, make sure he doesn’t get any open looks.’ I thought our guys did a really good job of focusing in on him. Of course, Cobb did end up knocking down some 3s, we knew the reputation for Crawford was he was a big-time scorer, big-time shooter, and we wanted to make sure we eliminated him as best we could from the game. I thought our guys really stepped up, as I said before, and accepted that challenge.”
“Really, we stuck with our gameplan. We have a system that we were playing, and I thought our guys did a good job of really staying with it. I thought inserting Grant into the lineup really helped us because he really started controlling the boards for us. At one point early in the first half, you remember, they had three, four or five offensive rebounding attempts at that goal. We were like, ‘We’re not going to be able to survive that.’ And so we made the substitution and put Grant in there, and I thought he did a great job. He ended up playing 16 minutes, had eight rebounds, didn’t really score a lot, but that was huge for us because it allowed us to limit them to just one shot per possession, which is always a good thing for you defensively.”
“Northwestern’s identity is going to end up being defense, no different than what we would like our identity to be. That was why it was such a tough one for us the other night, because it’s something we’ve taken pride in, and that’s something that’s never happened to us since we’ve been here. Giving up 112 points is unacceptable. So we really made sure our guys focused, and Chris is doing the same thing. If you’re going to build a foundation for your program, you better do it on the defensive end, and fortunately he has a lot of good shooters, so if he can get those guys defending, they’re going to have nights where they can shoot the lights out, I can just tell. When that happens, they’re going to give themselves a chance to win.”
“We’re picking our spots to kind of mix up our defenses. We want to give teams different looks. We’ve been trying to do that this whole preseason, and I think our guys are getting comfortable with it. It’s something new, but I think the way the game is set up right now, just to try to control tempo, one good way to do that is to maybe mix them up so that teams, coming down, they don’t know if you’re in man, if you’re in zone. It always forces them to have to set up and figure out what they want to run against you. So I think that’s something we have to continue to get better at, but I like it for this group.”
“We’re just really happy for Josh, more than anything. Being in that situation, a senior, getting off to somewhat of a slow start his first couple games, it’s what you expect from him. So I was really proud that he was able to have a breakout game and kind of find his rhythm. A lot hangs on him for us defensively: rebounding, shot-blocking. We ask a lot from Josh. So I was just happy to see him see the ball go in sometimes, because he’s a very capable shooter, and he just got off to a slow start.”
“We just made it a point to come out and play defense. I know all of us were real disappointed in ourselves, about how we played defense against BYU, so we made it a point to come out here and go back to what we do, and that’s defense. You know, the old saying goes, ‘Defense wins championships,’ so that’s what we hang our hat on and that’s what we got back to tonight.”
“We knew coming into this game that Drew Crawford was a guy we really had to look out for. He was a guy that was averaging 20 and 10. He got going early, so at halftime we made sure to talk about that. He was the heart and soul of their team, you now, so we had to make sure we took him out of the game in order for us to be successful tonight.”
“With the lineup that we’ve got now, with Stefan starting at center, moving me to the perimeter, I’m definitely a little bit more in a rhythm. But the way we run our offense, there are plenty of opportunities for me to be down there. You know, anybody can be in pretty much any position in the offense. So it’s a little less often that I’m down there, but I still can find times to make it down there.”
“I think Stefan (Nastic) played big for us. The big thing that Stef does is he gets the other team in foul trouble. I think their big had two fouls pretty early in the game. He gets us in the bonus. You know, we like to play inside-out, so any time he can get easy baskets the defense has to sag in, and then we’re hitting open 3s.”
“I think the biggest thing for turnovers is we implemented a new system this offseason, so I think it’s just going to take some time to get the wrinkles out. A lot of the turnovers are us trying to force things that we think we see and we haven’t run it against other teams, so I think once we just get more comfortable with our offense, our turnovers will start to drop.”
“I think the second half was just more of us playing to the level that we can, picking up the intensity. We started out the half very slow actually, with all the rebounds that they kept getting, and then we just hit a point where we said, ‘You know what, this is not going to happen.’ Made a couple shots, made a couple shots, everyone gets energized, and started making plays. You know, Josh started getting offensive rebounds, Dwight started getting steals, and from there we just blew it open.”
Northwestern Head Coach Chris Collins
“We really went cold about five minutes into the second half. I actually thought we were getting some good shots. They were playing their zone, but we were attacking it well, we got some good looks. But we had a stretch there where we were 2 -13, then they capitalized. We need to do a better job of getting to the free throw line when our shots aren't going in. We need to drive to the basket -- especially the way the new rules are. We only had 11 free throws for the game. We need to find a way to get to the free throw line.”
“Huestis was the main guy who made plays for them. He made a couple big threes, he got a couple huge offensive rebounds, especially when we cut it to nine and thought we had some momentum. He made a couple of back-to-back baskets which were really big and put the game out of reach. He was the key guy that hurt us tonight.”
“If you had told me that we would hold Powell to single digits and Randle to 14, I would have been really happy with that. But credit Huestis, Brown and Nastic for stepping up.”
“We struggled coming out in the second half. We were rushing things a little bit, settling for threes too much, and they were able to put on a run. That kind of deflated us. Can't let them go on runs like that.”
“When you're settling for threes like that, you're not getting to the basket enough. They were able to get to the line and get those easy points. That's what we needed to do.”