STANFORD, Calif. A chance for a Bay Area sweep instead turned into a second-half collapse for Colorado on Saturday, as the Buffs dropped a 75-62 decision at Stanford.
The Buffs led by as much as 12 in the first half and by nine early in the second period, but were outscored 42-20 by the Cardinal over the final 18 minutes.
The loss ended CU's nine-game win streak against Stanford and dropped the Buffs to 11-8 overall and 2-5 in Pac-12 play. The Cardinal improved to 10-10, 3-5. It was also the first time this year in 10 games the Buffs have lost after leading at half, and it ended a program streak of 25 straight wins after leading at halftime.
The Buffs shot just 40.6 percent from the field in the game, including 10-for-28 in the second half. Stanford shot 55.1 percent from the field (27-for-49), including a blistering 72 percent in the second half (18-for-25). After collecting 21 rebounds in the first half, CU had just eight boards the entire second half.
Tyler Bey led CU with 17 points, McKinley Wright IV added 14, Lucas Siewert chipped in 13 and Shane Gatling had 10.
Oscar Da Silva led Stanford with 21 and Daejon Davis scored 16.
The loss, coming on the heels of Thursday's win at Cal, also prevented Colorado from coming up with a rare conference road trip sweep, something the Buffs have accomplished only once since entering the Pac-12.
"I told our team, two things that we have to understand that we don't right now — that is basketball is a 40-minute game, and we don't handle adversity well enough," head coach Tad Boyle said. "We're not mature enough and we're not tough enough. I know those are two of our issues. I'm not talking about physically tough, I'm talking about mentally tough. When things start going south, we don't have that dig-in, let's stop this kind of mentality. We just don't."
HOW IT HAPPENED: In Thursday's win over Cal, the Buffs allowed an 18-point lead to slip away in the second half before regaining their composure down the stretch to collect the win.
They couldn't recreate that effort against the Cardinal.
The Buffs controlled the first half, taking a 37-31 lead at intermission. CU had a 21-14 rebound edge in the first 20 minutes, which helped the Buffs to a 10-3 edge on second-chance points as well as a 26-8 lead in points in the paint. CU then quickly bumped the margin to nine early in the second half on five points from Bey for a 42-33 lead.
But from that point on, the Buffs went stone cold from the field and their defense turned porous. The Cardinal put together a 23-6 run to take a 56-48 lead with 9:18 to go, and the Buffs never came closer than four again. Stanford hit six straight field goal attempts at one point in the run while the Buffs endured a 1-for-11 stretch.
"Stanford was ready to be beaten today. They were ready to be put away," Boyle said. "But we miss some bunnies, we miss three out of four free throws and instead of being a 12, 14, 16, 18-point game, which it should have been, it's a six-point game and they've got hope."
Indeed, the Buffs missed an opportunity early in the second half when Gatling missed two technical foul shots (called on Stanford's Davis) and Siewert hit just one of two. The Cardinal then began penetrating inside on Colorado's defense and the Buffs couldn't seem to find an answer. After Colorado held a commanding 26-8 edge on points in the paint in the first half, Stanford flipped the script and outscored CU 32-16 inside after halftime.
"I don't understand how you can execute so well defensively in one half and so poorly the next 20 minutes," Boyle said. "It's all a result of our inefficiencies on offense affecting our mood, our toughness, our body language — that's the adversity I'm talking about. We're not tough enough. We don't handle adversity."
After Stanford pushed its lead to eight, 60-52, with just under seven minutes to play, the Buffs cut the deficit back to four on baskets from Bey and Siewert. But Colorado then gave up a dunk inside and back-to-back 3-point plays from Davis and Da Silva and the Stanford lead was back to 12 with four minutes to go.
"In the first half I thought we had great toughness and great intelligence," Boyle said. "In the second half, absolutely one of the worst halves of basketball I've been a part of, both offensively and defensively."
Davis had 12 of his points in the second half. The Buffs were also beaten on the boards in the second half, 15-8, after holding a 21-14 edge in the first half.
Colorado led for almost the entire first half, jumping out to an 8-2 lead after a pair of baskets from Gatling and stretching the lead to as much as 12 when a Bey bucket inside gave the Buffs a 31-19 lead with just under five minutes to play.
Stanford, however, came back to cut that margin in half by intermission, and CU took a 37-31 lead into the locker room at halftime.
TURNING POINT: After leading by nine early in the second half, the Buffs gave up the lead when Stanford put together a 17-4 run to take a 50-46 lead. CU momentarily cut the deficit to two, but could never regain the lead.
WHAT IT MEANS: Instead of coming home to a pair of games with the momentum of a sweep, the Buffs must now try to regroup heading into next week's two-game homestand.
KEY STATISTICS: The Cardinal shot 72 percent from the field in the second half (18-for-25) while the Buffs were just 10-for-28 after intermission. Stanford also held a 15-8 edge on the boards in the final 20 minutes.
NOTEWORTHY: The game ended CU's nine-game win streak over the Cardinal, which included four in a row at Stanford. … It was CU's first loss this year when the Buffs had a halftime lead. … Colorado did a good job defensively on Stanford's leading scorer, KZ Opkala, holding him scoreless in the first half and to just five points for the game.
QUOTEWORTHY: "We have to get better. We have to get tougher and we have to handle adversity better." — CU head coach Tad Boyle
"We have to figure out how to stop teams from scoring. We have to guard. That's it. There's nothing wrong with our offense. We have to guard." — CU point guard McKinley Wright
NEXT UP: The Buffs finally return home next week for a pair of games at the CU Events Center, beginning with a 7 p.m. contest Thursday with Oregon State, followed by a 7:30 p.m. game Saturday against Oregon.