STANFORD, Calif. — Aaron Bright needed a game like this. He’s been struggling all season to find his shot. It all came back at once.
Bright scored a season-high 21 points, Dwight Powell added 16 points and 11 rebounds and Stanford earned its first Pac-12 Conference victory, beating Washington State 78-67 Wednesday night.
“It’s starting to come around,” Bright said. “My ankle is getting better and we just focused on running a lot of motion and pushing the ball.”
Chasson Randle added 16 points for the Cardinal (10-6, 1-2 Pac-12), who ended a two-game slide.
“It was good to see the ball go in,” Cardinal head coach Johnny Dawkins said. “You could see it coming. He’s had good practices and he’s been productive.”
Bright reached double figures for just the fourth time. He missed four games with a sprained ankle and said it feels 90-95 percent healthy.
“Aaron always brings it on practice,” said Powell, who had four blocked shots. “I’m not surprised by what he did.”
Brock Motum matched his season-high with 29 points, scoring 21 in the second half, to lead the Cougars (9-6, 0-2), who had won seven of their last nine. Mike Ladd added 15 points and Royce Woolridge had 10.
“They made the shots and free throws at the end when it counted,” Motum said. “They just did everything textbook — they hit all their free throws and the rebounds went to them.”
D.J. Shelton hit consecutive 3-pointers to tie the game at 37 with just under 13 minutes remaining. The lead changed hands six times afterward.
The Cougars led by five with 7:10 remaining to play. Josh Huestis hit a 3-pointer 18 seconds later, sparking a 20-4 run over the next five minutes to put the Cardinal in control.
“We came out with a defensive focus and started to relax on offense,” Powell said. “We started playing off each other’s energy.”
Bright was 5 of 7 from the field, including a 3 of 4 effort from long range. He also made all eight of his free throw attempts. He was 7 of 28 over his past three games combined, 1 of 11 from 3-point range.
Stanford made its first 24 free throw attempts before Andy Brown missed two in the final 30 seconds.
The 78 points allowed matched a high for Washington State, which also gave up 78 to Kansas. The Cougars entered the game as the conference’s top defensive team.
Stanford, which shot over 52 percent from the field, came in as the worst shooting team in the conference.
“In its simplest form, they made shots and we didn’t,” Cougars’ head coach Ken Bone said. “Along with that, I thought our energy was a little bit deflated. When they did start making some shots, all of sudden they were up by 8, 10, 12, and I thought that hurt us emotionally.”
Randle and Bright each hit a 3-pointer in the last five minutes of the first half to help Stanford take a 27-23 lead into halftime.
It was the fifth time in games involving the Cougars that neither team scored more than 27 points in the first half. It was a first for Stanford.