What went right: Once again, the Buffs played with exceptional effort against a quality opponent. They took care of the ball (eight turnovers) and drilled some big 3-pointers to hang with the Cardinal.
What went wrong: CU let the game get away in the third quarter. Stanford hit nine of 11 shots in the quarter and build a double-digit lead. The Buffs were also beaten on the board, especially in the first half.
Star of the game: Zoe Beard-Fails. While others had better overall games, Beard-Fails gave the Buffs a great 16 minutes off the bench. She scored a season-high 11 points, pulled down three rebounds and had two assists, two blocks and a steal.
What’s next: The Buffs visit Oregon on Friday in Eugene, Ore.
During a weekend in which it lost twice, giving up halftime leads both times, the Colorado women’s basketball gained some confidence.
On Sunday, the Buffaloes were outmatched in the second half of an 84-70 loss to 13th-ranked Stanford at Coors Events Center, but came away from the game encouraged.
“A huge thing for us is realizing that we can play with anybody,” said sophomore point guard Kennedy Leonard, who had 22 points, seven assists and only two turnovers in playing all 40 minutes. “We can play with them. If we can play with them, we can play with anybody as long as we have each other’s back and we keep on working hard. That was probably the biggest takeaway.”
CU (11-6, 1-5 Pac-12) lost its third in a row — all against Top 25 opponents — and lost for the 11th consecutive time against the Cardinal (15-3, 5-1).
Much like Friday against No. 24 Cal, it was the third quarter that doomed the Buffs on Sunday.
CU took a 42-41 lead into intermission, but got outscored 28-18 in the third quarter and 43-28 in the second half.
Stanford used a 9-0 run early in the third to regain the lead, and never relinquished it. The Cardinal went 9-for-11 from the floor in that quarter, connecting on each of its last nine attempts. Brittany McPhee scored 13 of her 18 points in the third.
Karlie Samuelson had a team-high 20 points for Stanford, including 5-for-7 from 3-point range.
“They have so many weapons,” Payne said of Stanford. “They have everything you want in a great team, and they have depth. (Even) their non-shooters shot the heck out of it tonight.”
Payne and the Buffs were encouraged, however, because of how they battled against one of the country’s elite programs.
After getting out-rebounded 22-9 in the first half, the Buffs had an 18-15 advantage on the boards after the break. They also finished with just eight turnovers, went 11-for-25 from 3-point range and 15-for-17 from the free throw line.
“I will say (Stanford is) a dang good team, and I think we have a dang good team, too,” Payne said. “I’m really proud of the way we played. I’m extremely proud of our rebounding effort in the second half. I’m really proud of the way our team battled.”
Senior Zoe Beard-Fails certainly did her part. The 6-foot-1 forward scored a season-high 11 points in 16 minutes. She also had three rebounds, two assists, two blocks and one steal before fouling out.
“In general, you try to bring all you’ve got, but something happens when you play these kinds of teams,” Beard-Fails said.
Beard-Fails said CU’s inability to play well for a full game on Friday against Cal was motivation for her and everybody else.
“Coming into this game, we were all like, ‘We have to do the extra stuff and focus on giving the extra effort, diving on the floor and getting those extra rebounds,'” she said.
The Buffs did that, but it wasn’t enough against a Stanford team that annually competes for the Pac-12 championship and more.
Before losing two halftime leads this weekend, the Buffs were 11-0 this season when taking a lead into intermission. … This is just the second time Stanford has allowed 70 points in its last 35 conference games. The only other time was Jan. 8, when Oregon State beat the Cardinal 72-69 in double-overtime. … CU is the only team this season to hit the 70-point mark against Stanford in regulation. … Beard-Fails hit a 3-pointer and is now 4-for-4 from beyond the arc this season. She was 0-for-5 in her career coming into the season. … Leonard went 5-for-11 from 3-point range. She was 6-for-40 in her previous seven games combined.
Brian Howell: email@example.com, on Twitter: @BrianHowell33.
No. 13 Stanford 84, CU 70
Samuelson 5-7 5-5 20, McPhee 8-11 1-2 18, McCall 5-10 1-2 12, Johnson 3-5 2-2 8, Smith 1-3 6-7 8, Roberson 2-5 2-2 7, Carrington 2-3 0-0 6, Sniezek 2-5 0-0 5, Fingall 0-3 0-2 0, Totals 28-52 17-22 84.
Leonard 6-19 5-6 22, Robinson 5-14 0-0 13, Beard-Fails 3-5 4-5 11, Smith 4-15 0-0 9, Correal 1-3 2-2 4, Caylao-Do 1-2 2-2 4, Ellis 1-1 0-0 3, Burich 0-1 2-2 2, Freeman 1-1 0-0 2, Watts 0-0 0-0 0, Totals 22-61 15-17 70.
Stanford 20 21 28 15 — 84
Colorado 23 19 18 10 — 70
3-Point Goals — Stanford 11-20 (Samuelson 5-7, Carrington 2-2, McCall 1-2, McPhee 1-3, Roberson 1-3, Sniezek 1-2, Smith 0-1), Colorado 11-25 (Leonard 5-11, Robinson 3-6, Ellis 1-1, Smith 1-6, Beard-Fails 1-1). Assists — Stanford 17 (Sniezek 4), Colorado 14 (Leonard 7). Fouled Out — Colorado Beard-Fails. Rebounds — Stanford 37 (McCall 5), Colorado 27 (Correal 5). Total Fouls — Stanford 14, Colorado 15. A — 2,126.