Stanford men’s basketball (12-8, 8-6 Pac-12) entered Thursday’s matchup against Colorado (16-5, 10-4 Pac-12) with the momentum of a two-game win streak after sweeeping Bay Area rival Cal last week. The Buffaloes came to Maples Pavilion with momentum of their own, however, in search of their first sweep of the Cardinal since the 2017-18 season.
Stanford was unable to match Colorado’s strong three-point shooting and cohesive defensive efforts and fell to the Buffaloes 69-51.
“We lost a tough game to a team that is very, very good,” said head coach Jerod Haase following the loss. “[The Buffaloes] have experience, tons of talent, unbelievable three-point shooting and a defensive plan that is very good as well.”
“We understand why we didn’t necessarily produce our A-game today … but I think they played much closer to their A-game,” he added.
The scoreboard remained empty for more than two minutes of play as both teams suffered from early turnovers and missed shots. Colorado was first to turn around its fortune as senior guard McKinley Wright netted a jumper with 17:31 in the first half. Wright’s shot was followed by a Colorado run that carried the Buffaloes to a 10-0 lead before senior forward Oscar da Silva put Stanford on the board with a dunk over six minutes into the action.
It briefly appeared as though da Silva’s dunk was exactly the spark Stanford needed to dig itself out of the early hole; a subsequent 11-2 Stanford run — led by another four from da Silva and a three-pointer from freshman forward Ziaire Williams 𑁋 put the Cardinal up 13-12 with just over 10 minutes to go before the break.
Yet Stanford’s success was short-lived. Colorado plowed ahead to a 34-23 lead at the half, with senior forward Dallas Walton, junior guard Eli Parquet and senior guard/forward D’Shawn Schwartz leading the team’s offensive efforts. When the halftime buzzer sounded, the Buffaloes were shooting 44.4% from the field and had capitalized on 5-of-11 attempts from long range.
On the other side of the action, the Cardinal was operating at a 39.6% success rate from the field as Colorado’s defense maintained pressure on a number of Stanford’s regular offensive threats, including junior forward Jaiden Delaire and freshman guard Michael O’Connell. The duo has hovered, alongside da Silva, near the top of Stanford’s offensive stats since early January, when senior guard Daejon Davis and junior guard Bryce Wills both went down due to injuries.
Prior to Thursday’s contest, Delaire had averaged 14.7 points per game in Pac-12 play, but the Buffaloes limited the junior to just two points in the first half as the Cardinal went 8-for-22 from the field 𑁋 on 1-for-5 shooting from beyond the arc 𑁋 in the opening 20 minutes.
The second half saw moderate improvement from Stanford, with da Silva and sophomore forward Spencer Jones each sinking eight points as the team went on to record 11-for-26 shooting in the back 20 minutes.
Unfortunately for the Cardinal, its modest progress was outpaced by that of the Buffaloes, as Wright poured in ten points after the break, which were complemented by an additional eight from junior forward Evan Battey. Senior forward Jeriah Horne knocked in seven more for Colorado to go along with the efforts of Wright and Battey and help the Buffaloes record a 53.3 field goal percentage on 16-for-30 second-half shooting.
Stanford did find itself at the free throw line on numerous occasions, thanks to 14 personal fouls by the Buffaloes; however, the 10 points netted by the Cardinal at the foul line only partially offset the 11 points that the Buffaloes picked up off of Stanford turnovers.
By the end of the night, da Silva had again established himself as a force to be reckoned with in the Pac-12, totaling a game-high 22 points to go along with six rebounds and three blocks. Nonetheless, da Silva’s dominance was not enough to overcome Wright’s 14 points, Parquet’s 10 points and Schwartz’s nine on Colorado’s side of the scoreboard.
Moving forward, the Cardinal will be looking to readjust to the presence of Wills and Williams on the floor, as the pair has been absent for much of the past several games. Williams had to complete a mandatory quarantine period following travel to a relative’s funeral, and Wills had been sidelined with a knee injury sustained over a month ago.
With Wills and Williams back, Stanford regains two important offensive contributors. Additionally, Wills has been considered one of the nation’s best defenders and brings much-needed experience back to a guard position that had primarily been filled by rookies in his absence.
Next up for the Cardinal is a Saturday meeting with Utah. The final event in Stanford’s three-game-long home show, tip off is set for 7 p.m. PT at Maples Pavilion.
Contact Savanna Stewart at savnstew ‘at’ stanford.edu.