No. 6 Stanford holds off short-handed Colorado

BOULDER, Colo. (AP) — No. 6 Stanford got all it could handle from last place Colorado before pulling away.

Thanks to a 32-point third quarter behind five 3-pointers, the Cardinal (17-1, 7-0 Pac-12) topped the Buffaloes 80-69 on Friday night.

Alanna Smith scored 26 points, only missing two shots from the field in the second half.

“I thought Colorado played very hard,” Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer said. “They are in a situation where they have a lot of kids hurt. They haven’t won a Pac-12 game and I think you really saw that team’s character, they really battled. They beat us three out of four quarters.”

A rough shooting start plagued Stanford, which connected on just 26 percent from the field in the first half. This gave the Buffs a chance. They capitalized with an early 16-2 run which propelled them to an eight-point halftime lead.

Yet with only eight players available for Colorado (10-8, 0-7 Pac-12) due to injuries, it was only a matter of time before the Pac-12 leading Cardinal took advantage.

Stanford had not made a 3 until three minutes into the third quarter. The Cardinal used a 16-1 run highlighted by a few 3-pointers to take the lead.

“They were 0-for in the first half,” Colorado coach JR Payne said. “We knew they’d come out shooting threes in the third quarter, and they opened it up on that.”

For the Cardinal’s three-point reliant offense, the 3-point barrage in the third was key.

“I think that third quarter— it was fun, it was fun to play in,” Smith said. “It’s great to come back and win games but most of the time I don’t want to come back. I want to blow teams away.”

Despite being outsized and under-manned Colorado was able to outrebound Stanford 44-42. This is what really kept Stanford from blowing out the Buffaloes. Sophomore Annika Jank led Colorado with 10 rebounds and also had 10 points, for her first career conference double-double.

“It could’ve been easy for us to give up,” Jank said. “But we’re taught not to give up and basketball is a game of runs.”

TURNING POINT:

Stanford out-scored Colorado 32-12 in the third quarter. Smith had 11 points in that quarter where the Cardinal took advantage of six Buffaloes turnovers.

SENIOR STANDOUT

Alexis Robinson scored 25 points to lead Colorado. The lone senior suited up for the Buffaloes totaled five threes, which tied her career high.

BIG PICTURE

Stanford is rolling through conference play and has not lost since early December. All eyes are on Stanford and Oregon to see if each will enter their Feb. 10 matchup in Palo Alto undefeated in conference play. The preseason picks to finish first and second might find themselves in a rubber-match that represents the conference championship game in March.

UP NEXT

Stanford heads to freshly ranked No. 21 Utah Sunday. The Cardinal are in the midst of a three-game road trip which will conclude against their Bay Area rival California.

Colorado will continue to seek its first conference win when California visits on Sunday.