BOULDER, Colorado (AP) — Even 40-foot desperation shots take practice.
“We practice that play a million times in practice but I would say there was a little pressure,” junior Kiani Williams said after her amazing buzzer-beater allowed No. 8 Stanford to slip past Colorado 69-66 Sunday.
Williams hit a game-tying 3-pointer with 12 seconds left, then stole the ball from Mya Hollingshed and sank a 40-footer at the buzzer.
“Just another shot for me, but thank God it went in,” Williams said. “Thank God both those shots went in.”
Williams, whose 29 points and seven 3-pointers were both career highs, looked as stunned as the Buffaloes and their fans as her teammates swarmed her and celebrated in a pile in front of their bench while the officials went to the monitors to confirm the basket was good.
“It wasn’t our lucky day,” Colorado senior Quinessa Caylao-do said.
The Buffaloes (15-10, 4-10 Pac-12) were on the verge of their first win over a Top 25 team since 2016, but they were held without a basket over the final 3:06 after taking a 64-59 lead and they missed four of six free throws in the final 26 seconds with a chance to ice it.
The Cardinal (23-3, 12-2 Pac-12) won its fifth straight game, and just like its 76-68 overtime win against Colorado three weeks ago, last-second heroics were necessary to escape the Buffaloes’ upset bid.
The Buffs trailed by 12 early and eight at the half, but surged ahead 62-59 on Peanut Tuitele’s 3-pointer with 4½ minutes remaining.
They didn’t trail again until Williams hit her desperate shot as the horn sounded.
With the Buffaloes ahead 64-63, Colorado’s Aubrey Knight stole the ball from Lexie Hull with 29.7 seconds remaining, and Hollingshed was fouled. She sank her first free throw and missed her second, but Caylao-do swooped in for the offensive rebound and she was fouled with 24.2 seconds left.
Caylou-do also made one of two foul shots, putting Colorado ahead 66-63. Stanford freshman Ashten Prechtel, the star of the first meeting between the schools when her buzzer-beater sent the game into overtime, had an open 3-pointer for the tie but the shot hit the front of the iron and Colorado’s Emma Clarke corralled the rebound and drew the foul.
She missed both free throws with 18.7 seconds remaining, and Prechtel grabbed the board. After a timeout, Williams worked her way free for the game-tying 3 with 12.9 seconds left.
“Right when we got the rebound, I have total confidence in my coaches to call the right set and Tara (VanDerveer) called my number and I had to deliver,” Williams said. “We talk out situations and she said if we score to match up. So, I hit the 3 and we got matched up and we were playing defense. I don’t think they had a timeout or they got confused and she just threw it away. So, the ball was out there and I just had to make a play and it went in.”
Colorado got the ball past halfcourt but Hollingshead was trapped and when she tried to get the ball to Caylao-do, Williams swiped it, dribbled once past halfcourt then launched the game-winner.
“It hurts, but we have to move on,” Tuitele said. “We have to learn from it. And rather than dwelling on the negatives, I think we need to focus on the positive things we did during this game. I think we did a lot of them.”
Nadia Fingall added 13 points for Stanford, which hit 14 3-pointers two days after hitting 15 3s in a blowout of Utah.
Hollingshead’s 19 points led four Buffs in double figures. Emma Clarke and Tuitele each scored 11 and Jaylyn Sherrod scored 10.
Stanford: The Cardinal’s eighth win in nine games shows Stanford is rounding into form for the postseason, and close calls such as this might prove handy come NCAA tournament time. With 1,090 wins, coach Tara VanDerveer is nine victories shy of passing Pat Summitt (1,098) as the winningest coach in women’s college basketball history.
Colorado: With a little luck, the Buffs could have swept Stanford. This heartbreaker was even worse than the one three weeks ago when Hollingshed hit a 3-pointer with less than 2 seconds to play in regulation for a 64-62 lead but Stanford tied it with a perfect inbound pass and layup by Pretchel to send the game into overtime.
Stanford hosts Oregon State on Friday night.
Colorado continues its four-game homestand by hosting Arizona State on Friday night.
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