Smith leads No. 8 Stanford to 62-55 win at Buffalo
AMHERST, N.Y. (AP) — Alanna Smith scored 30 points and No. 8 Stanford finally pulled away from pesky Buffalo for a 62-55 win on Friday afternoon.
Nadia Fingall scored six of her 12 points in the fourth quarter. The Cardinal never trailed but also didn’t reach a double-digit lead until Fingall’s basket in the low post put Stanford up 54-44 with 2:37 remaining.
Cierra Dillard scored 21 for the Mid-American Conference Bulls (7-3), who had a 14-game home winning streak snapped. Dillard, the nation’s leading scorer, has led Buffalo in scoring in all 10 games this season, and topped 20 points for the 14th straight outing dating to last season.
It was a homecoming for Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer, who played her final two high school seasons at Buffalo Seminary. She received a notable cheer during pre-game introductions.
VanDerveer also added the Bulls to the schedule because it’s close to home for sophomore forward Alyssa Jerome, who is from Toronto, which is a 90-minute drive from Buffalo.
Stanford was coming off consecutive wins over top-10 ranked opponents. The Cardinal beat No. 9 Tennessee 95-85 on Tuesday and then-No. 3 Baylor 68-63 on Saturday. The wins follow Stanford’s 79-73 loss at Gonzaga.
Stanford’s 62 points was a season low.
The Cardinal opened the fourth quarter ahead 41-33. Dillard led Buffalo’s charge. After Smith missed a 3-point basket, Dillard ran the transition break and made a nifty behind-the-back pass to set up Brittany Morrison’s layup, cutting Stanford’s lead to 43-36 with 7:43 left.
Some 26 seconds later, Dillard hit an off-balance 3-pointer while falling backward to cut it to 43-41.
After Smith hit a 3-pointer, Buffalo’s Hanna Hall responded with a pull-up 3.
However, Buffalo ran out of gas and missed its next six shots and had a turnover on its next seven possessions.
COLD FIRST HALF
Buffalo trailed 27-22 at the half despite having only two players hit field goals. Dillard shook off missing five of her first six attempts to finish the half 6 of 14 for 13 points. Summer Hemphill went 4 of 8 for eight points. Ayoleka Sodade accounted for Buffalo’s other point by hitting one of two free throws.
For Stanford, DiJonai Carrington hit 1 of 5 for two points and committed three turnovers after scoring 33 points at Tennessee.
Stanford: An early Eastern Time start and coming off two wins over ranked teams might have contributed to Stanford’s slow start, making just 11 of its first 35 attempts.
Buffalo: The Bulls, who hope to make their third NCAA Tournament appearance in four years, hung tight for 36 minutes against one of the nation’s best teams.
Stanford: Hosts Cal State Northridge on Dec. 29.
Buffalo: Hosts St. Bonaventure on Sunday.
More AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/Collegebasketball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25