Stanford's Spin Continues Against Colorado

Instead of a season-stabilizing win, Stanford leaves Boulder with a tough loss to Colorado.

Stanford came to Boulder with a chance to break through the wall against Colorado. Instead, the Cardinal left town with another bump on the head.

The Buffaloes halted a three-game losing streak on Sunday afternoon, holding off the Cardinal for a 64-58 win. Stanford (16-9, 7-5 Pac-12; RPI #40) has now lost four of its last five games, and its status as a surefire NCAA Tournament team is evaporating by the game. Colorado (12-12, 5-7; RPI #120) shot a dreadful 32.8% from the floor, but made up for it by snatching 18 offensive rebounds.

For Stanford, Stefan Nastic finished with a game-high 24 points, but was hindered after a dubious whistle gave him four fouls with 8:11 left in the game. Anthony Brown grabbed 13 rebounds, but scored just eight points (on 2-11 shooting).

A key sequence came with inside three minutes remaining and Colorado holding a 55-51 lead. Stanford’s defense appeared to be on its way to a critical stop when Xavier Johnson’s desperation three-point try to beat the shot clock missed. However, no one boxed out Xavier Talton, who snuck in, grabbed the rebound, and dished to Askia Booker, who nailed a critical three-pointer. It was Booker’s only bucket of the second half. With 2:32 left, the Buffaloes led 58-51.

The Card had another chance with 21.4 seconds remaining. After hitting two free throws to make it a 61-58 Colorado lead, Chasson Randle stole the inbounds pass. But as he tried to take it to the basket, Randle bowled over Xavier Johnson and was called for an offensive foul. Colorado had no problems inbounding the next ball, and held on for the win.

Stanford began the second half by gifting Colorado two easy baskets off two poor turnovers, taking a 33-23 lead. Johnny Dawkins (whose extended postgame meetings with his coaches and players prevented him from making his postgame radio interview) quickly called timeout, reminded his squad they were playing a real live basketball game, and sent the Card back on the floor.

From there, Anthony Brown hit a three (his first field goal of the day), jumpstarting a 20-7 Stanford run. Randle’s thee pointer tied it at 40, then Nastic’s hook shot and free throw put the Cardinal ahead with 10:24 to go.

The Card were in the lead for the first time, but they did little with it. After that, the Card went cold, hitting just three of its final 14 shots. A three-pointer by Talton gave the Buffs a 50-47 lead, and Colorado was ahead to stay.

The only constant for the Stanford offense in the first half was Stefan Nastic. The senior scored the Card’s first four points, then became more of a focal point midway through the first half. After finishing the half by grabbing a loose ball and hitting a jump hook at the buzzer, Nastic’s halftime numbers added up to 13 points on five-of-seven shooting from the floor.

Overall, scoring was a major chore for both teams. In the first 12 minutes, both teams combined for eight made field goals and seven turnovers. Stanford did not break into double figures until 6:21 remained in the first half, and had a scoring drought of 3:13. The Buffs owned a scoring drought that lasted 6:03. Stanford’s defense contested many of Colorado’s early looks, and the Buffs missed a host of open shots.

Colorado was awful from the floor, making just five of its first 19 shots. Incredibly, Stanford was worse, starting off just three of 17. The Buffs built an eight-point lead before the Cardinal closed it to a 29-23 Colorado advantage at the half.

Randle’s shooting woes continued, as he went four-of-16 from the floor. Over his past four games, Randle has made 14 of 52 field goal attempts. Stanford’s bench did not score a single point.

The Cardinal have six days until their next game, a welcome development for a team that looks like it could use some rest. Playing at home may help, too, as Stanford begins a three-game homestand by hosting California on Saturday.

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