When the Colorado Buffaloes lost J’Vonne Hadley for the season against the lowly California Golden Bears, concerns for the Buffs’ slim NCAA Tournament chances skyrocketed.

Suddenly, without Hadley, the offense became incredibly constricted, and Tad Boyle’s squad struggled to put away a three-win Cal team.

How could Colorado possibly find a hot streak that has been lacking all season, in order to sneak into the tournament, without their leading rebounder, who doubles as their third-best scorer?

Tonight, against the Stanford Cardinal, the CU faithful caught a glimpse of how that might be possible.

The Colorado Buffaloes once again started the night slow, and fell into an early 6-2 deficit, as they couldn’t get their shots to fall.

K.J. Simpson had an unsuccessful drive to the basket, and missed a wide-open three, while Nique Clifford clanged another open three off the front of the rim. Lovering’s putback off Simpson’s miss was the Buffaloes’ only source of offense early, but then Tristan Da Silva got rolling.

Da Silva has become the go-to scorer and star of Colorado in recent weeks, as he’s scored 20 points in five straight games while shooting 58.7% over that stretch.

Tonight was no different, as Da Silva exploded to score 11 of the Buffs’ next 17 points, almost singlehandedly flipping the game in his team’s favor — from trailing 6-2, to leading 19-13.

That 17-7 CU run was also spurred by the black-and-gold’s marvelous shooting, as the Colorado Buffaloes went 7-for-8 from the field and were flawless from the penalty stripe during that streak.

Even as Da Silva checked out of the game about midway through the half, the Buffs were in good hands. Stanford hit a turnaround jump shot, followed by a deep three to make it 21-20 game, when Colorado uncorked an 8-0 run in just 42 seconds, thanks largely to a bevy of silky plays from Ethan Wright, including a lay-up and a steal he took coast-to-coast.

That run proved vital for Colorado, as Stanford slowly gnawed away at the nine-point lead for the remainder of the first half, and ultimately hit a putback buzzer-beater to tie the game at 39 heading into intermission.

That 19-10 half-ending run would be the only real positive moment of the night for the Cardinal though, as the Buffs tore the heart out of their opponent’s ribcage early in the second frame.

Right out of the gate, the Colorado Buffaloes unraveled a 16-0 run that devoured just over seven minutes of the clock and seemingly killed the Stanford Cardinal right there.

How does one bounce back after going seven minutes without a bucket, and falling down a 16-point pit?

Even once Stanford scored to get on the board, and managed to stem the bleeding some, they still found themselves hemorrhaging points in a hostile environment. Over the 5:30 that followed their 16-0 run, Colorado tallied a 15-8 run at Stanford’s expense and expanded their lead to 23.

At that point, the game was done, and there was nothing the Cardinal could do other than to throw in their backups and get some extra experience.

Adding a little sweetness to the one-sided Buffalo victory is the fact that Stanford entered tonight as winners of five straight.

Colorado snapped that streak with gusto.

Plus, they saw many of their key contributors step up in Hadley’s absence.

Da Silva was a one-man force, tallying 25 points and five rebounds on 64/75/80 shooting splits, while KJ Simpson wasn’t far off that mark, and showed improved maturity, on his way to scoring 21 points, securing seven rebounds, and assisting four additional baskets — good for the most assists on the team.

By the time that duo checked out of the game, they were responsible for 54 percent of the Buffaloes’ scoring production.

Jalen Gabbidon, who filled in for Hadley in the starting lineup, also deserves some praise. His five-point night doesn’t leap out of the box score, but he made a number of crucial defensive plays that helped spark Colorado’s scoring runs. Notably, he took a hard charge, came up with a big block, and made a high-IQ play to intercept Stanford’s inbound pass while drawing a foul.

Whether or not the Colorado Buffaloes can replicate this performance without Hadley is something we’ll have to wait and see on, but the early returns couldn’t be any better, and Colorado’s season appears far from over.