Upstart Stanford men’s basketball opening eyes

Getty Images file photoJosh Owens and the Cardinal hold a 9-1 nonconference record

Coming off a near two-week layoff, the Stanford men’s basketball team rolled to a 75-55 win against San Diego over the weekend. It was the fourth straight win for a Cardinal team that has been the early-season surprise in the Pac-12 Conference.

“I think we’re continuing to take strides forward, but there are still things for us to work on,” Stanford forward Josh Owens said. “We’re not satisfied. We know we can get better.”

Stanford held San Diego (5-6) to 41 percent shooting on the night, but allowed the Toreros to hit 54 percent of their shots in the second half.

“There is a lot of room for improvement,” Stanford coach Johnny Dawkins said. “They know the standards they have.”

Despite the less-than-stellar performance in the second half, Dawkins has been impressed with his team defensively.

“It’s the best defensive team that I’ve coached here,” Dawkins said. “I think we have a team that is capable of playing the defense that we want here.”

Dawkins, who is in his fourth year at Stanford, said comfort with the system has helped this team reap the benefits on the court.

“This team has been tighter for a couple of years and I think there is more of a familiarity of the system,” he said.

Stanford (9-1) was picked to finish sixth in the Pac-12 preseason poll, but currently owns the best -nonconference record in the Pac-12.

Their only loss came in a six-point loss to now-No. 1 Syracuse on Nov. 25 at Madison Square Garden.

Stanford finishes off its nonconference slate this week with games against Bethune-Cookman, which lost 77-52 against St. Mary’s on Saturday, and Butler, which is coming off back-to-back trips to the national title game.

On the Hilltop: USF swept its women’s and men’s doubleheader Saturday night, with the men coming away with a win over Menlo College and the women defeating Sacramento State. The win for the USF women’s team (2-10) is only its second of the season and snapped a nine-game losing streak.

The USF men coasted to a 66-36 win over Menlo, giving the Dons their ninth win of the season. USF (9-3) is the first WCC team to reach nine wins.

Showdown on the Farm: The No. 4 Stanford women’s team wraps up its nonconference schedule this week and will likely get all they can handle with No. 6 Tennessee coming into town Tuesday night. The Cardinal (7-1) rolled to a 19-point win over on Princeton on Saturday on the back of 43 points combined from Chiney and Nnemkadi Ogwumike.

They were a combined 18-for-24 (75 percent) from the field. Tennessee has won five straight after losing to No. 1 Baylor and has picked up wins over three ranked teams, including No. 11 Rutgers.

Valiant effort: The Cal women’s basketball team came close, but lost to No. 14 Ohio State 77-75 on Saturday. The Golden Bears have lost all three games against ranked teams this season.

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