Sophomore KZ Okpala had 23 points and visiting Stanford scored 17 unanswered first-half points to take control and beat host UNC Wilmington 72-59 on Friday night.
Cormac Ryan added 14 for the Cardinal (2-0), who trailed by eight but held the Seahawks without a basket for the final 7½ minutes before halftime to take a 39-25 lead at the break.
Stanford pushed that margin to 18. UNCW got no closer than eight again.
It was the second straight big game for the 6-foot-9 Okpala, who had a career-best 29 points in the season-opening win against Seattle.
Devontae Cacok and Jeantal Cylla each scored 14 for the Seahawks (0-2), who were hosting a power-conference opponent for the first time since December 2009. There was a connection that helped schedule this matchup: the teams are coached by former Kansas teammates and North Carolina assistant coaches under Roy Williams in Stanford’s Jerod Haase and UNCW’s C.B. McGrath.
The November miles will add up quickly for the Cardinal, who traveled about 2,500 miles across the country for the first of two games in North Carolina.
Then, after returning home to host Wofford, Stanford will travel more than 2,700 miles east again to the Bahamas for the three-games-in-three-days Battle 4 Atlantis tournament during the Thanksgiving holiday. Haase will certainly learn a bit about his team’s maturity in handling this opening stretch.
The Cardinal will stay on the East Coast for Monday’s visit to No. 8 North Carolina.
The Seahawks are having early-season trouble with turnovers. They had 18 turnovers that led to 25 points in Tuesday’s 97-93 overtime loss at Campbell. They struggled again to take care of the basketball against Stanford’s length, including two straight turnovers to open the second half that killed any chance of quick momentum out of the break. UNCW finished with 20 turnovers that Stanford converted into 26 points.
The Cardinal will stay on the East Coast until Monday’s visit to No. 8 North Carolina.
McGrath gets another Tar Heels reunion Tuesday with a visit from UNC Greensboro and Spartans coach Wes Miller, who played for UNC from 2004-07 during McGrath’s time on Williams’ staff.
YALE 76, CAL 59
Miye Oni scored 12 of his 16 points in the second half and Azar Swain also had 16 points to help Yale beat Cal overseas on Friday night in the Pac-12 China game at the Baoshan Sports Center.
Alex Copeland scored 11 and Jordan Bruner had nine points and eight rebounds for Yale (1-0).
Swain hit a 3-pointer that gave Yale the lead for good midway through the first half and sparked a 15-0 run that made it 23-9 with 5:51 left before the break. Cal (0-1) trailed by double figures the rest of the way.
Paris Austin, a junior transfer from Boise State, led the Bears with 18 points on 6-of-10 shooting. The rest of the team shot 12 of 41 (29 percent) from the field.
The Bulldogs overcame their 19 turnovers by hitting nine 3-pointers, including four by Swain, and shooting 48 percent overall. Cal made just 5 of 25 from the field in the first half and finished with just six assists.
The Bears have six freshmen and five sophomores on the roster — and zero seniors — and are coming off a last-place finish in conference play last season. They struggled to knock down shots and get stops against the Bulldogs, something that will have to change if Cal wants to climb out of the Pac-12 basement.