No. 15 Stanford women’s basketball (9-4, 1-0 Pac-12) started the 2015 Pac-12 season on a high note Saturday night, defeating Colorado (7-5, 0-1) 62-55. The Cardinal went into halftime leading by seven points, but the Buffs tied the Card in scoring in the second half and hit them with a hard full-court press to make it a close game down to the last minute of play.
“We just had to stick together,” senior point guard Amber Orrange told the Pac-12 Networks. “We had some adversity moving the ball past half court but we were patient and just passed it up and we were fine.”
Orrange sparked the Card offensively in the second half, scoring 16 of her career-high 26 points in the final 20 minutes and finishing the game with 3 assists.
With just under 11 minutes to go in the game, the Buffs hit their first and only 3-pointer of the competition to take their first lead of the game since their 5-4 advantage early in the first half. Senior guard Bonnie Samuelson, however, answered back and ended Colorado’s 12-0 run to put the Card back up 45-43 on their next possession. The 3-pointer sparked an 8-0 run for the Card, a span during which the Cardinal defense stepped up its intensity and reaped the rewards on the offensive end.
“I just tried to be aggressive and take what the defense gave us,” Orrange said. “They were switching on screens and so their bigs were on our guards and we attacked.”
Back-to-back pull-up jumpers broke Orrange’s career high with 23 points and put the Cardinal up by double digits with four minutes remaining. Although Colorado eventually cut the margin to four points with 47 seconds left, the combined efforts of Orrange and Samuelson sealed the deal for the Card in the end. Samuelson sank both of her free throws after Orrange went 1-for-2 from the line to finish the game off with a narrow seven-point victory for Stanford.
Samuelson finished the game with 7 points while also contributing significantly on the defensive end underneath the basket, as she has recently needed to guard opponents’ bigs due to the team’s lack of size down low.
Sophomore guard Lili Thompson was Stanford’s second-leading scorer with 17 points and a pair of steals. The backcourt duo of Orrange and Thompson combined for 43 points on 17-of-28 shooting and was 4-of-5 from downtown. Orrange’s impressive performance was a change of pace from the past four games, in which the senior only scored 18 combined points off of 7-of-31 shooting.
In a game of dominant guard play, sophomore guard Briana Roberson chipped in 7 points coming off the bench in just 12 minutes of playing time.
The Cardinal enter conference play with four losses following their upset victory over then-No. 1 UConn in November. However, the Cardinal are notorious for playing one of the toughest preseason schedules in the country.
“We’re just excited,” Orrange told Pac-12 Networks. “We played a really tough schedule before the conference season and playing those types of teams just gives us more experience, especially our posts, and we’ll be ready for conference play.”
Next up, the Card take on Utah at Maples Pavilion on Monday night, with tipoff at 5 p.m.
Contact Ashley Westhem at awesthem ‘at’ stanford.edu.