Sunday, February 9, 2020

No. 24 Colorado 81, Stanford 74: Buffaloes lock in to defeat the Cardinal in second half

Photo Credit: Cliff Grassmick- Associated Press

By: Adam Chalifoux
Twitter: @FantasticMrFoux

The No. 24 Colorado Buffaloes won one of their hardest-fought games of the season Saturday night at home against the Stanford Cardinal, 81-74. For much of the night, however, it looked as if Stanford would knock off the first place Buffaloes from atop the Pac-12 standings. 

"We got a target on our back," said McKinley Wright, "we're the number one team in the Pac-12 and everybody's going to give us their best shot."

Coming into the game, Stanford boasted the third-ranked defensive efficiency rating in the country. Not far behind them at 15 and second in the Pac-12 was Colorado. Besides a Shane Gatling 3-pointer that opened the scoring, neither team would get anything easy for either team.

Despite Colorado averaging 72, and Stanford averaging 70 points per game, the score was 28-22 Stanford with under ten seconds to play in the first half. Terry Tyrell pulled up from deep and was fouled by Eli Parquet.

Tad Boyle was having none of it and added two more free-throws by way of a technical foul to make the score 33-22 at the half. Colorado was held to just 29 percent shooting, three of 13 from deep.

On the verge of their best start in program history, it was clear that it would not come easy Saturday night against the Cardinal. 

"We knew we couldn't afford to lose this game," said McKinley Wright, who led all scorers with 21 points.

Stanford's lead extended to 16 at 18:15 left. Despite the deficit, Colorado remained calm, finding open looks and finally taking the lid off the basket from deep.

The moment of the game came with 16:31 left when Stanford star, Oscar Da Silva wrapped up Colorado big man, Evan Battey as he sprinted to the hoop. Battey, listed at 265 crashed to the floor with Silva who was unable to get up for several minutes. Silva had been Stanford's defensive anchor. He left the game and would not return.  After both teams gathered at halfcourt to share a prayer for Sila, play resumed.

Trailing 41-30, Colorado went on a 21-8 run to take a 51-49 lead. Once the game was tied, Tad Boyle told his team how they would pull away.

"That next timeout, 'OK now, the only way we're gonna get this thing to Colorado's advantage is to continue to get stops because you cannot trade baskets with teams and get ahead or come from behind," said Boyle.

Stanford's Jaiden Delaire led the way for Stanford with 19 points but with the Buffaloes now in rhythm, the Cardinal were not able to regain control of the game. The Buffaloes meanwhile had gone from ice to fire, shooting a perfect eight for eight as a team from distance in the second half.

Leading the way for the Buffaloes were D'Shawn Schwartz and McKinley Wright who scored 15 points each in the second half. Wright finished with 21 points while Schwartz added 20.

Colorado 's next challenge will be a rematch with Oregon, who they defeated in Boulder in early January. This time, they will have to visit them on their home floor. Stanford will host the Arizona State Sun Devils Thursday night.