No. 22 Buffs Fall to No. 2 Stanford, Suffer First Loss of Season
BOULDER - The No. 22 Colorado Buffaloes battled but came up short in a 60-52 loss to No. 2 Stanford Cardinal in front of an electric CU Events Center crowd.
"I'm really proud of our ball club," said head coach JR Payne. "I think two really good basketball teams played tonight. Two teams that should be competing at the highest level and we both did tonight. We competed and battled. There are so many things we can learn from."
Winners of 13 straight to start the season, Colorado dropped their first game of the year and fell to 13-1 and 2-1 in Pac-12 play.
The Cardinal improved to 12-3 on the year and 3-0 in conference play.
Colorado forced 13 first-quarter turnovers, the most CU has forced in a quarter in school history. Junior point guard Jaylyn Sherrod tied a school record for steals in a quarter with four in the first period and finished the game with five.
"Tonight, shows how good we are as a defensive team," Tuitele said. "We came out hot and we were all playing our roles. Everyone was guarding hard and knew the scout. It just shows that we can be one of the best defenses in the country."
Despite the great start, Stanford fought back and used a strong second half, outscoring CU 36-24, to pull away from the Buffs.
Haley Jones led with 11 points for the Cardinal followed by Cameron Brink and Ashten Prechtel who each had 10.
How it Happened
Colorado got the start it wanted. Just under a minute in, Sherrod attacked the rim and sank a tough contested layup to kick off a 6-0 start that included finishes at the rim from Mya Hollingshed and Frida Formann.
The Buffs were relentless on the defensive end with 10 first-quarter steals, contributing directly to 11 points in the period. The Cardinal scored just two field goals in the first and the Buffs built a 15-8 cushion heading into the second period.
Miller scored the first six points of the second quarter for CU off two made jumpers and a pair of free throws - extending the Colorado lead to 21-14.
"I think my teammates noticed that I was hot and they just kept looking for me," Miller commented. "They do that every night - whether I'm hot or cold - they look for me. They put me in positions to take great shots, and that's what they did for me tonight."
But the Cardinal's offense came to life from behind the arc. Jana Van Gytenbeek drilled a three for Stanford followed by one from Hannah Jump to shrink the Buffs' lead to just two points, 21-19 with 4:39 left in the second quarter.
Colorado responded and scored seven unanswered points capped off by a smooth step-back 3-pointer from Formann to make the score 28-19. The Cardinal tightened things up on the defensive end to close the half and a pair of field goals from Brink followed by a 3-pointer by Anna Wilson cut Colorado's lead down to 28-24 going into intermission.
Stanford came out of the locker room hot, connecting on their first three shots from the field and taking their first lead of the evening, 30-28. Miller immediately responded with her first 3-point make of the game and gave the Buffs the lead back, 31-30. Colorado used that momentum to go on a 7-0 run that included layups from Wetta and Sherrod, extending the CU lead to 35-30.
After a pair of baskets from the Cardinal cut the CU lead down to 35-34, Miller connected on another 3 to bring Colorado's lead back up to four, 38-34. On the ensuing possession for Colorado, Sherrod drove into a swarm of Cardinal defenders, dumping the ball off to Tuitele who sank a layup and drew a foul, bringing life back to the CU Events Center. Stanford would respond with a 3 from Jones and the game went into the final period of play knotted up at 41.
The Cardinal built their lead to 46-41 after a layup from Brink and a 3-pointer by Ashten Prechtel. Tuitele hit a 3 of her own on the other end but Stanford stormed right back with a 7-1 run and held a 53-45 lead with 3:23 left in the game.
The Buffs fought until the end, but the Cardinal held them at bay and escaped Boulder with a victory.
"You have to have a short memory in this conference because every team you play is very good and very tough and it's going to be a battle," explained Payne. "Whether they're in first or in last place, it's going to be a really tough matchup."
With the game tied 41-41 headed into the fourth quarter, Stanford opened up the final period on a 5-0 run and never looked back.
The Buffs will travel to Oregon for their first conference road game of the season as they take on Oregon State Monday in Corvallis. Tip-off is set for 3 p.m. MT. This is a rescheduled game from Dec. 31st which was postponed due to COVID-19 issues.
Friday's attendance was 3,744, the largest since hosting Oregon State on Jan. 28, 2018 (3,781)...Stanford's 13 turnovers in the first quarter set a new CU school record (was 1Q Westminster in 2018)...Sherrod's four steals in the first quarter ties the school record for a quarter (Makenzie Ellis, at Utah Feb. 4, 2016…Frida passes 400 points…CU had its lowest 3-point shooting night of the season (14.8%) and lowest since going 0-for-12 against USC (3/1/20)...CU forced 22 Stanford turnovers, marking the ninth time CU has forced 20+ turnovers this season…the loss snaps CU's six-game Pac-12 winning streak…The Buffs lead for 27 minutes with its largest lead climbing to 11 in the first quarter (2:25).
Tuitele on the atmosphere in the arena
"It was ecstatic. Last year it was very quiet, and we had to create our own energy. But it was really nice to see Buff nation show out and support us. I've never played in that environment here, so it was nice. I hope that Buff nation continues to support us because this one game doesn't define who we are."
Miller on the loss
"I just really wanted to get this for my teammates and my coach. It's a hard loss - especially because we have the potential to beat the No. 2 team in the country. We're growing and we're getting better day by day."
Payne on the game not being a moral victory
"I think that I am not one for moral victories. I am always looking for things that we did well, and there will be a slew of things that we did well tonight. There also will be a lot of things that we need to learn from and grow. I love the fact that we're extremely competitive with the No. 2 team in the country. I think they also are probably happy that they're competitive with No. 22 in the country, so again, two good teams that really battled tonight."
Stanford's Tara VanDerveer on CU's start
"We like to set records but that's not the kind of record we want. It was frustrating, you know, I won't tell you that – I'm glad to have the mask on sometimes because you don't want to read my lips. It was frustrating. It was discouraging to see us not do better. But I love the resilience of our team and how people just stay with things, and they continue to play hard and make plays when we needed to. I think people learn through the game. This is what we need you to do, and they did it."