The Stanford women’s basketball team suffered a humbling home loss last weekend and that’s where the Cardinal left that unpleasant experience – at home.
The Stanford team that showed up Friday night at the Coors Events Center was crisp, focused and physical – and too much for slow-starting Colorado.
The No. 20 Buffaloes played the No. 20 Cardinal even (26-26) in the second half, but, oh, that forgettable first half . . . In the Pac-12 Conference opener for both teams, Stanford opened strong and stayed in control, downing CU 57-40 and stopping the Buffs’ winning streak at 12.
CU (12-1, 0-1) doesn’t have time to dwell on its first loss; No. 7 California visits the CED on Sunday at noon. “It will show a lot about the character of our team – who we are, what we’re about,” Buffs coach Linda Lappe said. “We’re going to keep this game in perspective . . . it only hurts you if you let it. There were a lot of positives.”
Stanford (12-1, 1-0) ) has won or shared the league championship in every season this decade, has posted 79 consecutive conference wins (regular season/conference tournament) and has made Final Four appearances in each of the past five seasons.
And the Cardinal, bolting to a 15-point lead almost before the Buffs could blink, offered hints Friday night that success of that sort might be on the way again.
Junior forward Chiney Ogwumike led Stanford with a game-high 20 points and 11 rebounds. Senior guard Chucky Jeffery scored 17 for CU and redshirt freshman Arielle Roberson, who had been in double figures for all 12 games and entered Friday night as CU’s leading scorer (15.7), finally reached double digits (10) on a jump shot with 49.1 seconds to play.
CU was hoping to get a jump on the Cardinal and get the CEC crowd (5,888) involved – but it didn’t work out that way. Stanford, coming off its first loss of the season last weekend (61-35 at home to Connecticut), got a grip on CU and didn’t let go.
Senior Joslyn Tinkle opened the scoring with a three-pointer as the shot clock wound down, sophomore Amber Orrange followed with a layup, and the Cardinal was in high gear. CU, meanwhile, was struggling to find first.
It took the Buffs nearly 4 minutes to get on the scoreboard – Rachel Hargis got the first basket at 16:15 – then another 6:11 to score again. At the 11:37 mark, Stanford was up 15-2 and CU was 1-for-15 from the field (6.7 percent) and had suffered six blocked shots.
Hargis finally got someone to accompany her in the scoring column when Jeffery hit a jumper from just left of the free throw line with 10:04 left before intermission. She finished with eight first-half points but got little help; in addition to Hargis, Roberson and Jen Reese were the only other Buffs to score. Each had two first-half points, and Roberson’s basket didn’t come until 1:24 remained before intermission.
For most of the first half’s final 12 minutes, Stanford held a 15-point lead, then increased it to 17 (31-14) in the last minute. CU’s 14 first-half points were the fewest ever at home and tied for the third-fewest ever.
The Cardinal scored the second half’s first four points and increased its lead to 21 (35-14) before the Buffs got a conventional three-point play from Roberson to open their second-half scoring. But CU still had a mountain to climb and the time to do it was dwindling.
The Buffs pulled to within 15 (37-22) on a steal and layup by Jasmine Sborov with 14:10 remaining, but the Cardinal answered with two free throws by Ogwumike and a layup by Orrange for a 19-point (41-22) advantage.
The 15-point deficit on Sborov’s layup was the closest CU could come until Jeffery converted a traditional three-point play with 3:30 remaining to pull the Buffs within 12 (49-37). But they got no closer than that.
Colorado Head Coach Linda Lappe
“Well I liked how we came out in the second half with a different mindset. The beginning of the game basically killed us, we had a tough time recovering from being down early in the game. But I do like how our team responded in the second half, we didn’t quit, we did better on the boards in the second half. There are a lot of things to take from this game. In one game I liked how our team responded to what Stanford brought onto the floor. Now we just have to be ready to bounce back. We have a quick turnaround before we play Cal, and we just have to be ready to play a solid game.”
On The Slow Start
“We were tentative; we were almost trying too hard at times in the wrong way. We were forcing shots into two defenders when in previous games we would just hit the open player. I think their size bothered us, their size is something that we cannot simulate in practice. All of our practice guys are home for Christmas vacation so we miss having them definitely for this game. They didn’t do anything that we necessarily have not seen, just their athleticism, their strength, and their size really put us on our heels at the beginning of the game.”
On Not Having The Practice Guys To Prepare For Stanford
“It definitely was a factor. Like I said, you can’t simulate that against each other, you can’t simulate their size. We have some big and tall practice guys that come in and obviously over Christmas they are off doing their own thing. I thought it was a factor, but it is not an excuse by any means. It would have helped definitely to practice against what we were going to see against Stanford because I thought we showed in the second half that we could play with them at times but at that time they had the confidence and they knew they were going to win.”
On If The Play In The Last 30 Minutes Will Help In The Long Run
“I believe it does help us. I think you have to take positives out of that game. We didn’t play our best by any means. We didn’t do a great job of hitting open shots. I felt like we were rushed and we didn’t have our feet set. But you have to look at what we did do well, we stayed with them, we were tough in the last 30 minutes, we did a much better job of rebounding in the last 30 minutes. I felt like we did a much better job of taking care of the ball in the last 30 minutes than we did in the first 10. The one thing that has to get better for us to win games is our free-throw percentage, we have to do a better job of shooting from the line consistently just having the expectation that we should be shooting 75% every night and especially against really good teams.”
On How The Team Will Respond From A Loss
“I think it will show a lot of character as a team, who we are as a team and what we are all about. If we get back to who we were whether it was after a win or after a loss. We are going to keep this game in perspective that is what we are going to do. This only hurts you if you let it. Other than that I think we can take a lot of positives out of this game than there are negatives. And there are a lot of things that we can control which is a good thing”
On Turnovers after Steals
“It is something we have really done this year is doing some of that. Some of it is understanding the flow of the game, understanding how important the possession is. We were having trouble scoring so once we got the ball we needed to make sure we got the shot that we wanted. I think that because we were not scoring we were trying to force it a little too much trying to get the easiest shot that we can get as fast as we can get it. Sometimes that is the right answer, but not always the right answer. As a player and a coach you just have to have a feel of the game and understand the flow of the game. It just depends, sometimes you get that steal and you just want the possession, you want to make Stanford play defense for 30 seconds to hopefully wear them down. I thought our defense did some nice things, we held Stanford to 57 points, you are not going to hold Stanford to much less than that. We just have to figure out how to score a little better.”
On If Ariel Roberson Was Surprised By Stanford’s Physical Play
“I think she was at the beginning but I think she quickly understood what she could do and how she could score. She was presenting her chest too much to the defense and opening up too much. She has a nice little hook shot over the shoulder and that is what she started going through in the second half. I was impressed with how Ariel responded, she didn’t get down on herself she kept at it and I think that is the mark of a player that will be very good for us in the future.”
Chucky Jeffery, Sr., G
On Slow Start
“I think we were being kind of tentative. Like coach said, we can’t simulate that type of team in practice so some of the things we did see in practice we are taking away and we weren’t being as aggressive as we should have. We were hesitating and things like that. We weren’t playing our basketball.”
On Playing Better Down The Stretch
“We started to catch on a lot. They started to switch a lot of screens, but we just had to make reads at that point. We knew we had to push the ball because once they got set they were better defenders. Once we catch them on the run when no one is paying attention, they have to scramble. We tried to push the ball up the floor more and attack the rim.”