When Stanford was down by 12 points to Colorado late in the first half, it looked like the Cardinal were on their way to being swept by the mountain schools this week.
But after a four-point loss to Utah on Thursday, they came alive in the second half Saturday night — shooting 72 percent after intermission — and won going away 75-62 at Maples Pavilion.
Stanford snapped a 10-game losing streak in its series against Colorado. In the Cardinal’s first win over the Buffaloes since 2012, they overcame an off night by KZ Okpala and even looked good at the free-throw line.
After shooting just 38 percent in the first half, they outscored the Buffs 44-25 in the second. Head coach Jerod Haase, who is in his third season at Stanford, called it “probably the best half since I’ve been here of getting to the middle of the lane and playing under control.”
The alternative is driving in for difficult, off-balance shots, he said.
“We played very on-balance,” Haase said, “and that’s been a hard lesson to teach this team because we have a bunch of good athletes who are good at driving the ball. So I’m telling them to drive in as hard as you can and come to a stop on a dime and then make a heady, simple play.”
Photo: Santiago Mejia / The Chronicle
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Daejon Davis, who can be hit-and-miss on on his acrobatic drives, had a fine game despite five turnovers. He scored 12 of his 16 points in the second half and had six assists.
“When guys see me getting it going, I know that my energy is contagious,” he said.
Stanford hasn’t been a good free-throw shooting team, but it made 14 of 16 from the line. That helped make up for the fact that Okpala, who averages a team-leading 18.2 points, had just five points and one rebound.
“KZ just didn’t have his best game,” Haase said. “Colorado did a nice job of clogging up the driving lanes and playing great.”
Haase credited reserves Marcus Sheffield, Kodye Pugh and Jaiden Delaire with giving the team a lift in the second half.
“I thought they really brought some energy,” he said, pointing to “a couple of big-time defensive rebounds that sparked some things. Defensive success led to offensive success, and it built from there.”
Oscar da Silva kept Stanford (10-10, 3-5 Pac-12) in the game in the first half by scoring 13 of his 21 points. “Finding my rhythm early definitely helps,” he said.
Bryce Wills added 12 points and five assists.
“With Bryce you’re seeing somebody grow up before our eyes,” Haase said. “Game to game and practice to practice, he’s learning a new way to attack, how to be successful at this level.”
Colorado (11-8, 2-5) was led by Tyler Bey with 17 points, McKinley Wright IV with 14, Lucas Siewert with 13 and Shane Gatling with 10.
As Colorado head coach Tad Boyle saw it, “Stanford was ready to be beat tonight,” but in the second half, the Buffs’ toughness on defense “went away.”
This post was originally posted at https://www.sfgate.com/collegesports/article/Stanford-rallies-in-2nd-half-to-whip-Colorado-13564738.php.