Colorado (11-8, 2-5) entered Maples with a 9 game winning streak against Stanford (10-10, 3-5). They left it with a 1 game losing streak.
In the first half CU showed great composure adapting to the variety of looks the Stanford defense threw at them. They worked the ball around and attacked the teeth of the zone, scoring 26 in the paint by the break. Stanford found itself out of position frequently, and they paid the price. “We need to work on the nuances,” said Coach Haase.
Stanford’s offense had another rocky start, at one point going 7 minutes between field goals. Oscar da Silva was the only Cardinal player to make a shot in the game’s first 12 minutes. The sophomore kept the home team within reach with his 13 first half points.
The Buffs pushed the lead to as much as 12, but Jaiden Delaire and Marcus Sheffield made back to back threes from the left corner. A late dunk from da Silva sent the Cardinal to the locker room down just 37-31.
Stanford didn’t get off to an auspicious beginning to the second half. On the very first play, Colorado converted an and-one alley-oop, picking up the third foul on Josh Sharma. Within the next five minutes, da Silva and Okpala would also pick up their third personals, and Daejon Davis would be slapped with a technical. “I was just over-communicating,” Davis explained with faux innocence.
That technical foul seemed to be a turning point. All of a sudden Stanford was attacking the lane, making the extra pass and finding easy looks. They came storming back, and at the 11 minute mark a Sharma dunk put them in the lead for the first time. They never looked back.
Stanford used a 13-2 run midway into the half to build up an 8 point advantage. Sharma was set up for some easy slams, Daejon drained a three, and Bryce Wills danced through the Buffaloes defense. Maples came uncharacteristically alive, feeding off the energy and passion of the men in Cardinal.
Colorado did its best to clog the lane, hoping to neutralize the dribble penetration of KZ Okpala. They did a remarkable job, holding the star sophomore to just 5 points. But Stanford had a number of players step up in his stead. They even went on a run with him on the bench. When they shared the ball, good things happened. They shot 72% in the second half, outscoring the visitors 44-25.
Oscar da Silva led Stanford in scoring with 21. They’re 6-2 when he’s in double figures. Davis added 16 points and 6 assists. Bryce Wills had a sneaky good line of 12-7-5. Stanford also found 15 points from its bench.
Bryce Wills seems to be growing up by the game. His coach remarked that he’s adjusting to the college game, and gaining confidence. This was his second double figure output in the last three contests, and his comfort level is visibly improving.
Colorado was led by the 17 points of Tyler Bey. McKinley Wright IV had 14-4-4, and Lucas Siewert and Shane Gatling added 13 and 10, respectively.
It was a much needed win for Stanford after dropping a heartbreaker on Thursday against Utah. Every win in Pac-12 play is big, especially with how wide open the league has been. “This is the best conference,” claimed Daejon Davis. He clearly hasn’t watched other conferences this year.
Stanford plays at Cal on Super Bowl Sunday, in what is sure to be an empty Haas Pavilion. The Bears have yet to win a conference game this year. “We just need to keep getting better,” said Haase. “And healthier, too.” Stanford hopes to have Cormac Ryan back soon; his status is still questionable.