It was going to take a miracle for the Colorado women’s basketball team to feel a loss more painful than its defeat at Stanford on Jan. 24.
On Sunday, Stanford’s Kiana Williams produced that miracle.
Williams scored six points in the final 13 seconds, including a running 3-pointer from nearly 40 feet out at the buzzer as No. 8 Stanford escaped the CU Events Center with a 69-66 victory against the stunned Buffaloes.
“It’s brutal,” CU head coach JR Payne said. “After the game down there, I didn’t know that it could be worse, but this is.”
Last month at Stanford, the Buffs (15-10, 4-10 Pac-12) held a two-point lead with 1.6 seconds left, but the Cardinal (23-3, 12-2) tied it at the buzzer and pulled away in overtime to win, 76-68.
On Sunday, the Buffs held a 64-63 lead with 27 seconds to go and went to the free throw line three times in the next nine seconds, but made just 2-of-6, increasing the lead to 66-63.
Williams, who scored a career-high 29 points, drained a 3-pointer to tie the game with 13 seconds left.
CU was out of timeouts and point guards Jaylyn Sherrod and Sila Finau were both on the bench with injuries.
After the Williams 3, CU junior forward Mya Hollingshed brought the ball down court, stopping in front of the Buffs’ bench to look for an open teammate. Stanford tied her up, though, and Williams knocked the ball loose with about three seconds left, scooped it up, raced down court and hit her game-winner on the run.
“I think we had said it a bunch of times that we didn’t have timeouts, so I don’t think (Hollingshed) thought we had a timeout, but I’m not sure,” Payne said. “That’s part of being a young team. That’s why I always save my timeouts because we are really young and I know that we’re going to need them, but we had to burn two just to stay in the game early in the first half.
“I don’t know what happened at the end, but they were definitely pressuring. Kiana is a heck of a player, and it was a heck of a play.”
A heck of a play, but a devastating result for the Buffs, who have lost 31 in a row to Associated Press-ranked teams and fell to 0-16 against the Cardinal since joining the Pac-12.
“I feel like those just happen at random times,” CU senior Quinessa Caylao-Do said of Williams’ buzzer-beater. “So it just wasn’t our luck for that.
“It kind of feels the same as the last one (at Stanford), except it was two 3s back-to-back, so I think that hurt a little bit more.”
The Buffs’ miscues down the stretch hurt, too.
CU, which trailed by 12 in the first half, took a 64-59 lead with 3:05 to play on a layup by Aubrey Knight.
The Buffs were outscored 10-2 from that point, missed four free throws, going 0-for-3 from floor and losing the costly turnover at the end.
“For sure, I think we could have executed better, but I think it’s just a learning experience for us,” Caylao-Do said. “We can’t really dwell on this and we have move on.”
With No. 22 Arizona State and No. 12 Arizona coming to Boulder next week, the Buffs have no time to dwell on this one – even though it will sting for a long time.
“It hurts, but we’ve got to move on,” sophomore Peanut Tuitele said. “We’ve got to learn from it and, rather than dwelling on the negatives, I think we need to focus on the positive things that we did in this game. I think we did a lot.”
The Buffs have lost 19 in a row to AP Top 10 opponents. … Stanford was 14-for-33 (42.4 percent) from 3-point range. CU came into the day ranking 341 nationally in 3-point defense, allowing 36.3 percent. … Hollingshed had a team-high 19 points, the eighth time this season she has led the team. … CU honored its 1994-95 team, which went 30-3 and reached the NCAA Elite Eight, at halftime. Most of that team was on hand for the reunion.
What went right: CU got offensive production from a variety players and rebounded well, while Aubrey Knight and Emma Clarke led the effort to shut down Stanford star Lexie Hull (1-for-14 for 6 points).
What went wrong: After spending more than 39 minutes putting themselves in position to pull the upset, the Buffs made too many mistakes in the final minute, including going 2-for-6 from the free throw line and turning the ball over in the closing seconds.
Star of the game: Aubrey Knight. She had just six points, but was 3-for-4 from the floor with 11 rebounds and played good defense all afternoon.
What’s next: CU continues its home stand by hosting No. 22 Arizona State on Friday at 7 p.m.
No. 8 Stanford 69, Colorado 66
STANFORD (23-3, 12-2 Pac-12)
Fingall 4-6 2-2 13, Jerome 1-4 0-0 3, Lex. Hull 1-14 3-6 6, Williams 11-19 0-0 29, Lac. Hull 1-2 0-0 3, Dodson 3-5 0-0 6, Prechtel 2-9 0-0 4, Wilson 0-1 0-0 0, Belibi 0-0 0-0 0, Brown 1-1 0-0 2, Jump 1-3 0-0 3, Moschkau 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 25-64 5-8 69.
COLORADO (15-10, 4-10 Pac-12)
Tuitele 5-11 0-0 11, Caylao-Do 1-2 3-4 6, Sherrod 2-6 5-6 10, Clarke 3-10 2-4 11, Hollingshed 6-14 6-10 19, Whittaker 1-2 0-1 2, Knight 3-4 0-0 6, Finau 0-1 1-2 1, Volcy 0-0 0-0 0, Jank 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 21-51 17-27 66.
Stanford 20 17 14 18 – 69
Colorado 15 14 21 16 – 66
3-point goals – Stanford 14-33 (Williams 7-13, Fingall 3-4, Jerome 1-4, Lex. Hull 1-4, Lac. Hull 1-2, Jump 1-2, Prechtel 0-4), Colorado 7-19 (Clarke 3-7, Hollingshed 1-5, Tuitele 1-3, Sherrod 1-2, Caylao-Do 1-1, Knight 0-1). Rebounds – Stanford 36 (Lex. Hull 7), Colorado 36 (Knight 11). Assists – Stanford 12 (Lex. Hull 6), Colorado 14 (Caylao-Do, Sherrod 4). Steals – Stanford 8 (Lex. Hull 3), Colorado 6 (Knight 3). Turnovers – Stanford 10, Colorado 11. Total fouls – Stanford 23, Colorado 15. Fouled out – Lac. Hull. Attendance – 3,481.