With four teams in action Saturday, California’s Bay Area shifted its attention away from the San Francisco 49ers and Stanford’s upcoming bowl game and over to college hoops, where fans got mixed results. Take a look at the recap below:
No. 1 Duke 90, Santa Clara 77
The Broncos kept it close early, trailing by only two at halftime, but Duke’s size buried Santa Clara in foul trouble in the second half. Senior Kevin Foster was impressive with 29 points on the afternoon, including 18 in the first half that almost single-handedly kept Santa Clara in the game.
Against the nation’s No. 1 team, an up-tempo style helped to minimize Duke’s size advantage in the first half and Foster’s hot shooting was key. But Foster picked up his third foul less than 10 seconds into the second half and the Blue Devils found a way to neutralize Santa Clara’s full-court game and grind it down to a half-court bout. Seth Curry’s hot shooting overextended the Santa Clara defense and pushed it out to the perimeter, opening up opportunities for center Mason Plumlee on the inside.
It was a valiant Santa Clara effort, but Duke proved to be too much. The tough loss showed that the Broncos are likely the fourth-best team in the WCC, trailing national power Gonzaga, St. Mary’s, and BYU.
San Francisco 93, Dominican Cal 76
Cole Dickerson had a double-double of 30 points and 10 rebounds as the Dons cruised to a win Saturday night by dominating in nearly every key statistical category. San Francisco shot 56 percent from the floor and outrebounded Dominican 42-25. It is a bounce-back win for the Dons after going 1-2 in the Diamond Head Classic in Hawaii over the Christmas holiday.
They open conference play on Jan. 2 against Santa Clara.
Stanford 65, Lafayette 59
Stanford was never able to put Lafayette away, thanks in large part to 11-of-19 shooting from three-point range for the Leopards. Stanford’s zone defense had a difficult time rotating to shooters and was giving too much space on the perimeter, allowing a smaller Lafayette team to stay in the game.
Poor Cardinal shooting from the perimeter (3-of-19) only amplified the offensive problems, but a late-game push to get the ball inside to junior Dwight Powell exploited Stanford’s size advantage. Had the Cardinal not outrebounded Lafayette by such a large 42-24 margin, we likely would have had an upset at Maples Pavilion.
Keep an eye on Josh Huestis, who continues to be an impact player and a complement to Powell on the interior. He narrowly missed a double-double Saturday, scoring eight points and grabbing 14 rebounds.
Harvard 67, California 62
Cal ran into many of the same problems against Harvard that Stanford did against Lafayette. Laurent Rivard and Wesley Saunders combined for 37 points, including 7-of-15 shooting from three-point range to extend the California defense and power an upset Saturday. Harvard was patient offensively and controlled the clock in the second half to dictate the pace and force the Bears into uncomfortable half-court sets.
Allen Crabbe turned in another high-scoring performance with 27 points on 10-of-18 shooting, but a short Cal rotation hurt Mike Montgomery’s team down the stretch. Both Crabbe and Justin Cobbs had bouts with cramps late in the second half, likely a result of Harvard milking each offensive possession and forcing Cal to play 35 seconds of defense nearly every time down the floor.
The Crimson continue to get production from freshman point guard Siyani Chambers, if not as a scorer than as a facilitator. He shot just 2-of-15 from the floor Saturday, but had nine assists and just two turnovers.
Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_