Colorado Buffs hold off Stanford 64-58
AP Sports Writer
BOULDER, Colo. — For a split second, Xavier Johnson figured he’d compounded one big-time blunder with another massive mistake.
After Stanford pulled to 61-58 on Chasson Randle’s pair of free throws with 21 seconds left Sunday, Johnson found nobody open for the inbounds pass. He tried to force it and Randle stole the ball.
“I was upset because I couldn’t get the ball in,” Johnson said. “I should have called timeout. That was my mistake. So, the least I could do is step in and try to defend.”
As Randle raced straight for the hoop, Johnson stepped up and threw his hands high.
“I thought that was a block,” Johnson admitted. “But thank God it was an offensive foul.”
The Buffaloes (12-12, 5-7 Pac-12) would go on to seal their 64-58 win at the free throw line, snapping a three-game skid and avoiding their first three-game home losing streak in five years. Askia Booker led the way with 17 points, including a 3-pointer dagger for his only bucket of the second half.
“Sometimes the hardest job is taking the ball out of bounds when guys aren’t open,” Colorado coach Tad Boyle said. “He made a mistake. We had two timeouts. But again, rather than panicking, he steps in and takes a charge. You turn a losing play into a winning play.
“It was a big-time charge. And we needed that.”
They also needed their stingy defense and superior rebounding because they only shot 32.8 percent from the floor.
Although the key play happened in front of Stanford’s bench, coach Johnny Dawkins said he didn’t get a clear view.
“I didn’t get a great look at the charge it happened so fast. A bang-bang play, he stole it, then was at the basket. So it was hard to see what happened,” Dawkins said. “It’s a tough call. It was a bang-bang play, probably the toughest call to make in the game.”
Stefan Nastic, who led Stanford with 24 points, also didn’t criticize the call.
“It was a tough call,” he said. “It was a tough call to make.”
Nastic also had no problem with Randle not stepping back and working for a game-tying 3-pointer instead of heading straight for the hoop.
“I definitely support Classon doing that,” Nastic said. “It was a great drive.”
Johnson added 13 rebounds to go with his 10 points — for his first career double-double — and Josh Scott pulled down 10 boards as the Buffs outrebounded Stanford by 11 and held the Cardinal to 33 percent shooting.
“They had 18 (offensive) boards,” said Dawkins, whose team was held under 60 points for the second straight game. “I thought that was the difference in the game. They were able to get second and third shot attempts.”
The Cardinal (16-9, 7-5) clamped down on Booker after allowing him to score 14 points by halftime, but they lost track of him one time and it cost them: his wide open 3-pointer gave Colorado a 58-51 lead with 2½ minutes left.
Stanford: Randle, the league’s top scorer, finished with 14 points, six below his average. … The Cardinal have only been held under 60 points four times this season. Stanford was without starting swingman Rosco Allen (back) for the second consecutive game. He’s averaging 8.8 points and five rebounds.
COLORADO: Neither team burned up the nets. At one point the Cardinal, the league’s highest-scoring team in conference play at 75.5 points per game, were shooting a measly 17 percent but the Buffaloes were shooting only 26 percent. By halftime, that had increased to 34 percent for the Buffs and 32 percent for the Cardinal, who trailed 29-23.
FADING FINISH: Nastic took a seat after picking up his fourth foul with 8:11 left. He returned at the 6:46 mark but made just a pair of free throws down the stretch.
“That definitely hurt us,” Dawkins said. “He’s our anchor in the middle and he boards for us and offensively he’s the kind of guy that sets the table for us. So if he goes out that definitely is a blow for us and something that we have to learn.”
ROAD TURNAROUND: After snapping a two-game home losing streak, his first in his four-year tenure in Boulder, Boyle trusts the Buffs can take a modicum of momentum on the road now because “defense travels, rebounding travels.”
Stanford hosts California Saturday afternoon.
Colorado visits Oregon on Wednesday night.
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