Even with NFL luminaries Andrew Luck and Richard Sherman in attendance, a back-and-forth affair didn’t go Stanford’s way on Wednesday night, as the Cardinal men’s basketball team dropped a heartbreaker at home to the Colorado Buffaloes, 59-56.
For the second time this season, a Chasson Randle 3-point attempt to tie the game bounced off the rim at the buzzer, preserving the win for Colorado (21-9, 10-7 Pac-12). The loss was the third in a row for the Cardinal (18-11, 9-8), a serious setback in the team’s quest to obtain an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament later this month. It is likely that the defeat also cost the Cardinal a first-round bye in next week’s Pac-12 tournament.
Randle scored 24 points in the losing effort for the Cardinal, and was really the only member of the team who had an offensive impact in the second half. The junior finished 9-of-18 from the field and was 4-of-7 from three. He was the lone Stanford player to reach double figures in the game.
“We need more guys, it can’t just be one guy playing offensively,” said head coach Johnny Dawkins. “Our offense is built around a balanced attack, and we need guys stepping up and making plays there.”
Senior Josh Huestis added 9 points and 13 rebounds for Stanford, but it wasn’t enough, as the Cardinal were repeatedly manhandled on the low block by Colorado sophomore Josh Scott.
Scott finished the night with 17 points and 11 rebounds in leading the charge for the Buffaloes, which outrebounded Stanford 39-31 and grabbed 13 offensive boards. Xavier Johnson added 14 points and 5 rebounds for Colorado, while Xavier Talton provided the clutch shooting. His 3-pointer with 2:10 remaining in the second half gave Colorado a four-point lead, one the Cardinal would not be able to overcome.
Stanford was plagued by poor offensive play throughout, as ice-cold shooting in the first half resulted in a five-point halftime deficit. The Cardinal shot just 10-of-32 from the field in the first half (31.3 percent) and a paltry 1-of-9 from 3-point range. Stanford finished the game having made just 36.8 percent of its field goal attempts and 23.5 percent of its 3-point attempts. The Cardinal were also a disappointing 10-of-17 from the free throw line.
The bad statistics piled up for Stanford in this one, as it marked the third consecutive outing that the Cardinal finished with more turnovers than assists. Stanford now has just 20 assists compared to 37 turnovers in its last three games.
“I think our guys are playing a little too fast,” Dawkins said. “I think we need to slow down and have some poise, some composure. We’re not being pressured. Our turnovers a lot of times have been unforced, and those are the ones that are disappointing to you.”
Senior forward Dwight Powell’s recent struggles continued on Wednesday night, as the Cardinal’s all-conference performer from a season ago fouled out in 28 minutes. Powell finished with just 8 points and 2 rebounds, shooting 3-of-8 from the floor and committing 4 turnovers to just 1 assist. His struggles over the past three games parallel the team’s play during the time period. The Toronto native made just 8 of his 30 shots against ASU, Arizona and Colorado, and he had 10 turnovers to just 3 assists during that span.
Despite all the negatives, Stanford battled back from an eight-point deficit early in the second half behind some strong defensive play. The Cardinal, trailing 46-38 with 14:13 left in the game, held Colorado scoreless over the next eight minutes and 11 seconds of play. Randle scored 10 of Stanford’s 11 points over that stretch, and his 3-pointer with 4:53 left to play gave the Cardinal a one-point lead.
After an Anthony Brown layup gave Stanford a three-point margin, a frenetic sequence of three defensive and two offensive possessions turned the Cardinal lead into a four-point deficit, capped by Talton’s 3-pointer with 2:10 left to play. It was the type of stretch that has haunted Stanford during Coach Dawkins’ tenure, and it reared its ugly head once more on Wednesday.
The Buffaloes gave Stanford some opportunities in the final two minutes by turning it over once and missing a free throw to keep the game a one-possession affair, but the Cardinal were never able to capitalize.
With the final game of the regular season coming up on Saturday against Utah, Stanford hopes it can send off its six seniors — four active, two injured — with a win on Senior Day. Tipoff is scheduled at 11:30 a.m., with the game to be televised on Pac-12 Networks.
Contact Daniel E. Lupin at delupin ‘at’ stanford.edu.