Stanford has become pretty consistent in its inability to make shots consistently.
The latest example was Saturday’s 69-57 loss to UCLA at Pauley Pavilion, which was the Cardinal’s third straight loss since its upset of No. 17 Washington. And the Bruins won without freshman Joshua Smith, the starting center who sat out the game after sustaining a concussion in Thursday’s win over Cal.
Things started going bad for Stanford’s offense in the second half of the Washington State game, when the Cardinal held a nine-point lead two days after beating the Huskies. It has not improved since.
In the five halves since the Washington State halftime, Stanford has shot 32.1 percent, 25.0 percent, 19.5 percent, 30.3 percent and 31.3 percent.
On Saturday, the Cardinal finished shooting 30.8 percent, two days after shooting 22.2 percent, the Cardinal’s worst shooting percentage since the introduction of the shot clock in 1985-86.
And there always seems to be a lengthy drought that takes Stanford out of games.
The Cardinal (10-8, 3-4) made 8 of its first 15 shots against UCLA to surge to an early 22-8 lead, then Stanford made just 1 of its next 16 shots to let the Bruins (13-6, 5-2) pull even.
The Cardinal hung around in the second half, and Aaron Bright’s three-pointer tied the game with 9:14 left, at which point the Cardinal’s offense went south again.
From that point until 47 seconds remained in the game, Stanford made just 1 of 10 shots to let the game slip away.
In Thursday’s loss to USC, Stanford make its first shot, then missed 15 of its next 16 shots to essentially shoot its way out of the game. The Cardinal started the second half against USC by making just 3 of its first 28 shots.
There is no problem with the Cardinal’s effort. It got nearly every loose ball in the opening minutes against UCLA, a major reason it was able to jump to the early 14-point lead.
But when you miss so many shots, it’s impossible to compete in the Pac-10. And inconsistency is common among teams that rely on freshmen, as Stanford does.
On Thursday, coach Johnny Dawkins replaced freshmen Dwight Powell and Bright in the starting lineup with Gabe Harris and Jack Trotter. That obviously didn’t work, so Dawkins went back to Powell and Bright as starters on Saturday, the same lineup that opened the win over Washington. And it seemed to helped early.
Ultimately, though, it made little difference.
Josh Owens, and he has been the only consistently productive Cardinal player offensively. An indication of his offensive improvement is that teams regularly double team him now when he gets the ball in the post.
Freshman Anthony Brown had 10 points against UCLA, and Powell finished with nine points and eight boards.
Jeremy Green finished with 12 points, but continues to be inconsistent, making just 4 of 15 shots.
In the past six games, Green is 22-for-76 from the field, a shooting percentage of 28.9 percent. It’s no coincidence Stanford went 2-4 in those games.
Stanford has a chance to cure some of its shooting woes when it hosts last-place Oregon on Thursday.
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