The Colorado Buffaloes had, ‘one of their five biggest games in program history,’ as dubbed by the PAC-12’s announcers, on Thursday, as they played host to the No. 3 ranked Stanford Cardinal, and they nearly managed to succeed in their upset efforts.

CU wasted no time prying open the window of opportunity for a potential upset, which was a welcome relief after their offense never managed to find it’s footing in Arizona last week. They opened the game on a 13-0 run, while playing at a lightning pace, with the aim of utilizing their elevation-aided home-court advantage to wear Stanford down.

And, early on, the strategy was wildly effective, as Stanford scored just two field goals over the course of the first 15 minutes (37.5%) of the contest. The Cardinal offense was stuck in the lurch, and despite their considerable size advantage, they couldn’t get anything rolling offensively early.

Through those aforementioned first 15 minutes, the Buffs held the Cardinal to a meager five points, while scoring 19 of their own, and should’ve been on their way to a rousing victory, but their own offensive struggles allowed Stanford to hang around. With Stanford boasting more size than any other women’s basketball team, Colorado was unable to find their rhythm in the paint, and therefore, came up empty on far too many possessions.

That meant that the moment the Cardinal offense woke up, the Buffaloes would be in trouble, and that’s precisely what happened, late in the second quarter. After a 1-for-21 start from the field, Stanford hit three of their next four attempts, including a three, and flipped the game from 19-5 to 21-12, and two more quick Stanford three-point shots made it 24-18 at the half.

The Colorado Buffaloes’ commanding lead was sliced in half in a flurry, as the game approached the half, and that unfortunate trend would carry over into the third quarter — the Buffs’ most disappointing quarter of the night.

Stanford was so dominant in the third quarter, that it almost completely negated the dramatic advantages Colorado won in the first and fourth quarters, all on its own.

They opened the quarter with a 7-0 run, to take a one-point lead — their first of the game.

Losing the lead was enough to stir the Buffaloes offense awake for a few minutes, as they hung close and refused to let the Cardinal build their lead until Stanford’s insane large ball lineup (which featured five players taller than 6-foot-1, and three north of 6-foot-3) proved to be too much to handle for Colorado, and the lead ballooned to six, at 38-32, as the game entered its final frame.

An early fourth-quarter bucket helped the Palo Alto squad extend their lead to eight, before the Boulder bunch finally got back into the fight, thanks to Jaylyn Sherrod’s ‘never say die’ mentality.

Sherrod suffered a nasty ankle injury on a fall early in the second half, and yet, despite looking to be in severe pain throughout the rest of the game, she never seemed to lose a step. Her ferocity on both offense and defense kept CU alive and helped to create an eight-point fourth-quarter comeback to take this game to overtime.

On the road to securing that overtime opportunity, we saw both defenses tighten the screws on their opponent, as the Buffaloes went five minutes and the Cardinal went three-and-a-half minutes without a field goal. Yet, thanks to some incredible shooting at the line (21-for-28, 75.0% on the night for the Buffs) CU was still able to tighten the game up late.

Then, with just 33 seconds left to play, and Stanford up two, Kindyll Wetta made a brilliant defensive play to steal the ball on the Cardinal inbound, and get the ball back to her Colorado Buffaloes, where Sherrod stole the show. While walking over to throw the ball inbounds, Sherrod winked at the play-by-play commentator, only to call her own number on the subsequent play, drive to the rim, and sink a lay-up to send the game to overtime.

In overtime, the Buffs found themselves in the driver’s seat for the first time since the second quarter, as their offense was able to consistently convert on their possessions. Aaronette Vonleh and Quay Miller were finally able to find a rhythm in the paint, and CU had their best offensive period as a result. Unfortunately, during this stretch, their defense once again began to struggle with Stanford’s size, and so the Colorado Buffaloes were unable to create any seperation on the scoreboard.

Up 56-54, Colorado had a chance to finally extend their overtime lead to four, requiring multiple possessions from Stanford to tie it up again, but they failed to realize that opportunity thanks to consistently fouling the Cardinal and to being unable to rebound missed free throws. Stanford went 0-for-2, only to get their own rebound, get fouled, go back to the line, go 0-for-2 again, get their own rebound again, go back to the line again, and then, finally converting, to tie the game back up once again.

Fortuanetely, also thanks to Jaylyn Sherrod, the Buffaloes had another opportunity to put the game away in the final seconds of the first overtime.

First, with less than 90 seconds left, Sherrod made a remarkable lay-up over two taller defenders to put CU up two, 58-56. Then, after Stanford responded with a bucket and an and-one make, which put them up, Sherrod fired right back. She drove against the larger defenders yet again, and got to the line, where she made two clutch free throws to put the Buffaloes back in front.

Unfortunatley, that’d be the last highlight moment for the Colorado Buffaloes.

Stanford got a free throw on their next possession to send the game into double overtime, and early into the second frame of bonus basketball, Tayanna Jones — who had been Colorado’s most impactful defender, responsible for guarding star Cardinal scorer Haley Jones — fouled out. Without Jones, Colorado’s defense took a major hit, and they were no longer able to go toe-to-toe with their elite opponent, and were outscored 13-2 in the final frame.

Walking away from such an important and well-fought contest has to be disappointing. What would have been one of the biggest victories in program history was right there for the taking, and yet, the Buffaloes were one able to take it.

That said, in spite of this crushing loss, the Colorado women should feel nothing but pride for their performance today. The difference in recruiting crops between the Buffaloes and the Cardinal was visibly apparent during nearly every second of the basketball game, as Stanford routinely towered over their opponents, and yet, Colorado led for a majority of the battle.

It was a real-life David and Goliath story, and David almost won.

One only wishes they didn’t have to qualify that with, ‘almost’.