Colorado tops Stanford for big Pac-12 win
AP Sports Writer
STANFORD, Calif. — Seattle Seahawks All-Pro cornerback and former Stanford standout Richard Sherman gave the Cardinal a pep talk about “seizing the moment” before facing Colorado on Wednesday night.
Instead, Sherman sat in the stands with fellow alum Andrew Luck and watched the visitors take it away.
Josh Scott had 17 points and 11 rebounds, Xavier Johnson scored 14 points and the Buffaloes boosted their chances for a first-round bye in next week’s Pac-12 Conference tournament with a 59-56 victory over Stanford.
“We can’t underestimate how much this helped us,” Colorado coach Tad Boyle said. “This really helped us. I know there are some doubters out there about Colorado. It’s hard to make a case for yourself if you go on a big slide.”
Xavier Talton added nine points and five rebounds to help the Buffaloes (21-9, 10-7 Pac-12) break a two-game losing skid and hand the Cardinal another late-season setback under coach Johnny Dawkins.
“There were some tough plays that had to be made down the stretch,” Scott said. “It was a big victory morally, emotionally and physically for our team.”
Chasson Randle scored 24 points to rally the Cardinal (18-11, 9-8) from an eight-point deficit and take the lead in the final minutes. He missed a 3-pointer as time expired to seal Stanford’s third straight loss.
Both teams began the day tied with California for fourth place in Pac-12 play. The top four teams earn a first-round bye in next week’s conference tournament in Las Vegas.
Colorado completes its regular-season slate Saturday at Cal (18-12, 9-8), which lost 63-59 to Utah on Wednesday night. Stanford hosts Utah in its finale.
“It’s very disappointing,” said Randle, who shot 9 of 18 from the floor. “Especially coming home and having the crowd here and to have the opportunity for a first-round bye.”
Randle had little help when the Cardinal needed it most.
Josh Huestis finished with nine points and 13 rebounds and Dwight Powell added eight points for Stanford, which is trying to make the NCAA tournament for the first time in six seasons under Dawkins, who is facing an increasing amount of pressure each year that drought persist.
The Cardinal, who made the tournament in the 13 of 14 seasons prior to his arrival, will likely need a strong run in Las Vegas next week for an at-large bid in the Big Dance now.
“To get over the hump, you have to win games down the stretch,” Dawkins said. “We have opportunities. I think our season’s still in front of us, and we have to take advantage of our opportunities.”
Even with the stakes high, there were chunks of empty seats throughout the arena. Sherman and Luck tried to help fill the void, sitting together in the stands and, at times, drawing more attention from fans than the action on the court — though even they left their seats before the final buzzer.
Both teams shot poorly and most of the game moved at a plodding pace until the closing minutes. The Buffaloes outshot Stanford 38.8 percent to 36.8 percent and outrebounded them 39 to 31. Colorado made 17 of 25 free throws, while the Cardinal were 10 for 17.
After the Buffaloes built an eight-point lead late in the second half, Randle rallied Stanford in a hurry. He made three 3-pointers during a 13-2 run that lifted the Cardinal ahead 51-48 with 3:58 to play.
Colorado came back with a jumper by Johnson and 3-pointer by Talton. Randle answered just like he had before, starting a three-point play after getting fouled by Talton on a short jumper.
On the next possession, Askia Booker air-balled an open jumper as Colorado was called for a shot-clock violation. He atoned for his miss by stripping the ball from Randle and quickly getting fouled.
Booker made 1 of 2 free throws to give Colorado a 56-54 lead. Then Anthony Brown missed a 3-pointer, Scott corralled the rebound and hit two free throws with 13.1 seconds left. Scott finished 9 of 11 on free throws.
After a timeout, Randle raced down court to convert a near-uncontested layup with 8.3 seconds remaining. Then Talton split two free throws to give Stanford one last chance.
Randle’s pull-up 3-pointer glanced off the front of the rim as time expired.
“It wasn’t easy and we didn’t play our best,” Boyle said. “It’s amazing how the emotions between winning and losing are so different — it’s like night and day, yet the game was close.”
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