Even before the 40-foot buzzer beater, the game belonged to Kiana Williams. But after it, there was no doubt. The junior guard had the performance of a lifetime.
By the time the final moments of Stanford versus Colorado women’s basketball action were ticking away, Williams had already matched a career-high 26 points. She had dished out four assists and secured three rebounds. Only then, with under four ticks on the clock on the road in a tie game, Williams ripped the ball away from Colorado’s leading scorer Mya Hollingshed.
One dribble later, Williams launched her 13th 3-point attempt from a distance even beyond her regular range.
“I looked at the clock and I knew I had to let it go,” Williams told Pac-12 Network after the game. “Thank God it went in.”
On Sunday, everything was falling for Williams. She banked in one of her seven 3-pointers and tied the game with a shooter’s roll on one from deep with 12 seconds on the clock. The game-winner that followed was just padding her resume with a new career-best.
“It happened so fast,” Williams said. “Credit to my teammates, we stuck together, it wasn’t looking good [with] one minute left in the game.
“As a point guard, I tried to stay composed, and Tara called my number so I knew I had to make the shot,” she added.
Once again, No. 8 Stanford (23-3, 12-2 Pac-12) rebuffed Colorado (15-10, 4-10 Pac-12) of an upset victory. Last time, in Maples Pavilion, it took late-game heroics from freshman forward Ashten Prechtel, a Colorado native, and overtime for the Cardinal to find separation.
A game after Stanford made its second-most 3-pointers in program history, the Cardinal opened with four straight from beyond the arc, and Williams converted her first three. Leads of 14-3 and and 34-22 gave Stanford early hope that the road sweep could be made with ease. Colorado had other ideas.
Williams already had 16 by the end of the first half as Stanford built up an eight-point halftime lead. As Colorado’s Hollingshed, Jaylyn Sherrod, Emma Clarke and Peanut Tuitele heated up, that advantage evaporated in the 3rd quarter.
An 8-0 run in the fourth quarter eventually put the Buffs on top by five with three minutes remaining. From then on, though, the Buffs did not make another field goal, and the conference’s worst free-throw shooting team went 2-for-6 from the charity stripe in the final 26 seconds.
The home team’s second-half struggles prevented an easier road to an upset victory. In the first half, Colorado went 9-for-10 from the free-throw line but finished 17-of-27 for the game. Stanford was 5-of-8.
While Colorado had four players finish in double figures, Williams had only one teammate join her. Senior forward Nadia Fingall contributed 13 points and shot 3-of-4 from behind the arc.
Following her nine minutes of action in her return on Friday, junior forward Maya Dodson lengthened her stay to 15 minutes and scored six points. Prechtel shot just 2-of-9 and sophomore guard Lexie Hull finished 1-of-14, though she led the team with seven rebounds, six assists and three steals.
Sophomore guard Lacie Hull was limited to 21 minutes due to perpetual foul trouble and eventually fouled out with under two minutes to play.
After five first-quarter turnovers, Stanford had just five more the rest of the way. For a sense of the tightness of the game, look no further than the 36 rebounds and 22 points in the paint from each team.
Stanford will host its final two regular season games in Maples Pavilion this week when the Oregon schools come to the Farm. First up are the Beavers on Friday.
Contact Daniel Martinez-Krams at danielmk ‘at’ stanford.edu