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Colorado’s Sila Finau is helped off the court against Stanford during the semifinals of the Pac-12 Tournament on March 5, 2022 in Las Vegas. (Al Powers/Powers Imagery)
Colorado’s Sila Finau is helped off the court against Stanford during the semifinals of the Pac-12 Tournament on March 5, 2022 in Las Vegas. (Al Powers/Powers Imagery)
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LAS VEGAS – It’s hard enough to beat Stanford at full strength. It’s considerably more difficult with two significant contributors  unable to play.

On Friday night, the Colorado women’s basketball team became the latest team to get run over by Stanford, 71-45. Even with a full roster, the Buffaloes might have lost to the powerhouse Cardinal.

However, when senior guard Sila Finau sprained her right ankle late in the first half, CU lost one of its top players.

“It changes a lot,” CU head coach JR Payne said of not having Finau during the final 21 minutes of Friday’s game. “Sila is one of our most active defenders. She’s one of our most experienced players and she’s someone that plays a lot of minutes in multiple positions at the same position that we already have an injury. So I definitely think it changed us. No excuse. I mean, we definitely have the philosophy it’s next person up when someone gets hurt. Next person has got to do more. So that’s not an excuse, but it does change the dynamic of the lineup.”

CU lost starting guard Tameiya Sadler to an injury in Wednesday’s first-round win against Washington. As of Friday, Sadler was still in a Las Vegas hospital.

Finau’s injury took a second starting guard off the court for the Buffs.

Stanford immediately took advantage. The Cardinal led by 10 when Finau got hurt, with 1:04 to play in the first half. By halftime, it was a 15-point lead and the Cardinal expanded the lead after halftime.

Stanford guard Anna Wilson tied her season-high with 12 points, nine of them in the final 2:26 of the third quarter to turn a nine-point lead into a 16-point advantage.

“It’s already a struggle without Tameiya and then you take out arguably one of your most experienced guards (Finau), who can play multiple positions and do different things and creates things defensively,” Payne said. “So that was a huge loss at that time.”

CU will have two weeks off before the first round of the NCAA Tournament and Payne hopes to have Finau and Sadler back.

“We just need people to heal up,” she said. “I’m not going to speculate about who’s going to fill in. I expect Sila to make a recovery. I expect Tameiya to make a recovery.”

Stanford’s Haley Jones tries to get a pass around Colorado’s Quay Miller during the semifinals of the Pac-12 Tournament in Las Vegas. (Al Powers/Powers Imagery)

Stanford machine

Stanford lost at CU on Jan. 17, 2021, and lost a second in a row five days later against UCLA. Since then, the Cardinal have won 33 consecutive games against Pac-12 opponents. Four of those wins have come against CU.

In recent years, CU has typically played close games against the Cardinal. Stanford has seemingly cranked up its game this week with the postseason underway.

CU freshman Kindyll Wetta, however, said there’s no difference between Stanford in the regular season and the playoffs.

“Stanford is Stanford,” she said. “You really never get anything different from Stanford and I know that now that I played them three times. It’s not Stanford; it’s how you respond to Stanford, how you carry yourself throughout the game. And tonight, I don’t think that we did a very good job of that. We did in the first quarter, but they just kind of went downhill from there.”

Milestone

Stanford head coach Tara VanDerveer earned her 1,000th win with the Cardinal.

“Tara has set the table for most of us that are coaching as far as helping to grow opportunities for women in sport, helping to pave the way for people like me to be able to coach,” Payne said. “She’s the best. She’s the winningest coach in basketball history and I’m proud to be a co-coach in the Pac-12, I’m proud to be a friend of hers and excited for the accomplishment that she achieved tonight.”

In her 35th season with Stanford, VanDerveer is 1,000-207 with the Cardinal and 1,152-258 for her career.

Notes

CU’s Mya Hollingshed became the sixth player in program history to reach 900 career rebounds. She now has 906. … Hollingshed moving into seventh in CU history in minutes played, with 3,876. She passed Kennedy Leonard, Mandy Nightingale and Bridget Turner on Friday. … CU’s three worst shooting games of the season have come against Stanford: 25.9% on Feb. 13, 29.8% on Jan. 14 and 30.6% on Friday. … Stanford is 9-1 in the Pac-12 Tournament semifinals. CU is 0-3. … The 26-point margin was the second-largest in the semifinals in the 11-year history of this tournament. Stanford beat Oregon State by 34 in the 2021 semifinals. … In the last two years, Stanford is 5-0 in the Pac-12 Tournament, with an average margin of victory of 26.4 points.

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