Okpala nets career-high 29 points in Stanford’s 96-74 win
STANFORD, Calif. (AP) — Sophomore KZ Okpala had a career-high 29 points, 10 rebounds, three blocks and five assists and Stanford opened the season with a 96-74 victory over Seattle on Tuesday night.
“He also had three turnovers,” Stanford coach Jarod Haase joked.
“He likes being coached, he wants to be better and he has a very high ceiling,” Haase said. “He should be a big-time defensive rebounder but that was an impressive performance.”
Freshman Cormac Ryan scored 13 of his 16 points, including four of his five 3-pointers, in the second half for the Cardinal, who improved to 6-0 all-time against the Redhawks. Daejon Davis added 15 points and Marcus Sheffield had 10.
Terrell Brown, a high school teammate of Davis in Seattle, scored 16 points to lead the Redhawks. Matej Kavas and Anand Hundal each added 13 points. Morgan Means had 11.
Okpala helped Stanford open a big second-half lead, scoring 16 of his points after the break. In the first half he was 2 of 5 from the field and 9 of 11 from the foul line.
“The pace was much better in the second half,” Okpala said. “I think we can be much better.”
Seattle matched Stanford’s energy level and held the lead through much of the first half thanks in large part to Hundal, who came off the bench and hit his first three 3-pointers.
The Redhawks led by as many as eight midway through the first half and were ahead 35-30 before the Cardinal outscored Seattle 10-1 to take a 40-36 advantage into the intermission.
“I liked when we got the lead to 15 and then got it to 20,” Haase said. “I like the way we responded offensively. We were one pass away from a really good offense in the first half and then we started making that pass, making hard cuts and that led to easier shots.”
The Cardinal shot 60 percent from the field in the second half after a 42.3 percent effort in the first half.
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Cormac Ryan, who came to Stanford from Manhattan, had an impressive college debut. “I’ve said it before and I’ll probably say it again. He’s like a 40-year-old man, in a good way. He has presence, shows confidence and I can talk to him after a good play or bad play and he’ll convey that to the rest of the team,” Haase said.
Seattle: The Redhawks, who have not won a season-opener in six years, has four Pac-12 teams on its schedule. They play Washington State next week and travel to California and Washington in December. ... Former Stanford great Nick Robinson is an assistant coach with Seattle. He received a warm ovation when introduced during a timeout.
Stanford: The Cardinal, who have won its last nine season openers and 29 of 31, plays five of its first seven games on the road, including at No. 8 North Carolina on Monday. ... This marked the earliest season opener in the 104-year history of the program, beating by two days the 2013 opener.
Seattle returns home to host Puget Sound on Thursday.
Stanford travels to play at UNC Wilmington on Friday.