CU women's basketball preview: Stanford

MATCHUP: No. 13 Stanford Cardinal (14-3, 3-1 Pac-12) at Colorado Buffaloes (11-5, 1-4)

GAME TIME: Sunday, 2 p.m., Coors Events Center in Boulder

BROADCAST: TV - Pac-12 Networks. Radio - KVCU 1190 AM

COACHES: Colorado - JR Payne, 1st season (11-5 at CU; 112-118 career). Stanford - Tara VanDerveer, 31st season (842-177 at Stanford; 994-228 career).

LEADERS: Colorado - Scoring: G Kennedy Leonard, So., 18.6 ppg; Rebounding: F Haley Smith, Sr., 5.8 rpg; Assists: Leonard, 5.6 apg. Stanford - Scoring: F Erica McCall, Sr., 16.5 ppg; Rebounding: McCall, 8.9 rpg; Assists: G Marta Sniezek, So., 4.5 apg.

NOTABLE: Stanford leads the all-time series, 15-4, including 5-2 in Boulder and 10-0 since CU joined the Pac-12. ... Payne is 1-1 as a coach against Stanford. Last season, her Santa Clara team went into Stanford and upset the Cardinal, 61-58, on Nov. 23, 2015. ... Stanford is one of the top rebounding teams in the country, with a plus-7.7 margin per game. ... CU's Kennedy Leonard is struggling from 3-point range. Since going 7-for-11 from beyond the arc against Colorado State on Dec. 8, she is just 6-for-40 (15 percent) in seven games since.

Having spent the previous two seasons coaching in the San Francisco Bay area, Colorado head women's basketball coach JR Payne knows all about Stanford.


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"They're good, big; they can shoot the ball; they're experienced," said Payne, who came to CU this season after two years at Santa Clara. "They have everything you want in a basketball team."

On Sunday, the task of Payne and the Buffaloes (11-5, 1-4 Pac-12) is to figure out how to beat the 13th-ranked Cardinal (14-3, 4-1).

To pull the upset, the Buffs know they have to be better than they were on Friday in a 65-53 loss to No. 24 California. The Buffs led by nine at halftime, but got buried by a 19-1 Cal run to open the second half.

Payne came away from that game pleased that her team didn't give up after Cal's big run; the Buffs actually rallied and tied the game again. Payne and the Buffs also came away from the game frustrated because they knew it was one they let get away.

"We just need to learn we should gain confidence from the fact that we can play with teams," Payne said. "We can beat Cal, but you can't beat them unless you play for 40 minutes."

Same is true for Sunday's matchup against Stanford. Like Cal, Stanford is loaded with talent, led by 6-foot-3 forward Erica McCall.

McCall is another strong post player who could give the Buffs some fits in the paint, as Cal's Kristine Anigwe did on Friday.

The Buffs did an exceptional job against Anigwe in the first half on Friday. In fact, they did a lot of good things in the first half, including moving the ball well on offense, playing physical defense and following the game plan.

"I think those are things we can take from this game and translate over (to Sunday) and be able to do that for a full 40," senior Haley Smith said.

If the Buffs are able to play 40 minutes against Stanford the way they played the first 20 minutes again Cal, they'll give themselves a chance at securing a key victory.

Contact staff writer Brian Howell at howellb@dailycamera.com or twitter.com/BrianHowell33.