Published January 05, 2013
| Associated Press
BOULDER, Colo. – The Colorado Buffaloes now know the sting that Stanford felt.
The fourth-ranked Cardinal entered the game reeling from a lopsided loss to Connecticut and took it out on No. 20 Colorado, beating the Buffaloes 57-40 on Friday night in the Pac-12 Conference opener.
It is Colorado's turn to regroup and attempt to forget about the defeat since the schedule doesn't get any easier as the Buffs (11-1, 0-1) host seventh-ranked California on Sunday.
"In this game, we learned a lot about ourselves," freshman Arielle Roberson said. "Just because they're a bigger team and their name is Stanford, (doesn't mean) we can't play. If anything, we should believe more in ourselves.
"We can take that into Cal."
What the Buffs can't take into Cal is their winning streak, which ended at 11. Colorado simply couldn't make up for an icy cold start.
"We were tentative," Buffs coach Linda Lappe explained. "We were trying almost too hard at times, but in the wrong way."
The Cardinal (12-1, 0-1) never trailed as they rebounded from a 61-35 loss to Connecticut that not only snapped their nation-leading home winning streak, but ended their six-week run at No. 1.
"We know what we're capable of," said Chiney Ogwumike, who finished with 20 points and 11 rebounds. "We know what our expectations are. We're trying to meet that. But I think sometimes early success can make you complacent. We needed a wakeup call, a reality check."
UConn definitely provided it, showing the Cardinal they still have work to do. And they went about fixing their flaws against Colorado.
"Every team has a bad night and we had a bad night. It just happened to be against UConn, so it was exposed," Ogwumike said. "I think it was good because it grounded us. This is a great starting point for us, a new chance to start a new season."
The Cardinal began its quest for a 13th straight conference title on the right note. They also ran their winning streak against league opponents to 79 straight.
"We were ready to play," coach Tara VanDerveer said. "We came in and kind of took it to them the way some teams have taken it to us."
Stanford's swarming defense prevented Colorado from getting into any sort of offensive flow, as the Buffaloes scored just 14 points in the first half — the team's fewest-ever at home. With Colorado's loss, UConn and Duke are now the only undefeated teams in Division I.
Chucky Jeffery led Colorado with 17 points, while the team's leading scorer, Roberson, was held largely in check and finished with 10.
The Cardinal didn't allow altitude or aggravation to play a factor in this game, putting any thoughts of the thrashing by UConn out of their minds. Then again, Stanford hasn't lost back-to-back games since December 2010.
Coming into this contest, the Buffs figured they had the perfect recipe for an upset, a blueprint provided by UConn — bully Stanford around on the boards.
Only, it didn't quite work out that way. The Cardinal turned out to be the aggressors, outrebounding the Buffs 41-27.
This was simply how the night went for Stanford: Joslyn Tinkle hit a long 3-pointer with the shot clock almost at zero on the team's opening possession. The Cardinal quickly jumped out to a 17-2 lead midway through the first quarter and never really glanced back, taking a 31-14 lead into the locker room at halftime.
From there, Colorado was trying to avoid some dubious distinctions. Namely, setting a record for fewest points in a game.
But with a late surge, the Buffs avoided that piece of history. Their record for fewest points in a contest was 32 at Texas on Jan. 17, 2009. Jeffery helped CU sidestep that on a short jumper with 4:44 remaining, slicing Stanford's lead to 49-34.
Jeffery then hit another shot — and was fouled on the play — to cut the lead to 12 and get the crowd revved up.
Ogwumike quickly silenced the audience with two layups in a 14-second span to end any idea of a comeback.
In the end, Colorado simply dug too deep of early hole.
"We just have to be ready to play at the beginning of the game," Jeffery said.
Although the Cardinal have an impressive conference streak going — they haven't lost to a league foe since falling at Cal on Jan. 18, 2009 — things may not be as easy this time around. After all, the league is rapidly improving, with four teams ranked in the top 25 for the first time since 2006.
"I'm glad the world is awakening to it," Ogwumike said. "Colorado is a great team."