STANFORD, California — Kaylee Johnson is enjoying more success coming off the bench than she did as a starter. She's beginning to play more as well.
Johnson scored a career-high 17 points and had 11 rebounds, Erica McCall added 16 points and 11 rebounds and No. 9 Stanford beat Colorado 71-56 on Sunday.
"I like giving the team what it needs," Johnson said when asked if she preferred starting and then taking a quick glance at her coach seated next to her. "When I start on the bench I can see what is going on. I just try to bring energy and to be aggressive."
Lili Thompson scored 12 and Karlie Samuelson added 11 points for the Cardinal (13-3, 3-1 Pac-12), who won their seventh in eight games and improved to 14-4 all-time against the Buffaloes.
Johnson was 6-of-7 from the field, also blocked two shots and recorded a career-best and team-leading four assists.
"Kaylee knows she will play, and play a lot if she continues to play like she did today," Cardinal coach Tara VanDerveer said. "It's not as though she's benched. I like to go to the bench with firepower."
Haley Smith scored 17 points and had a career-high nine boards to lead the Buffaloes (5-10, 0-4), who lost their fifth straight. Alexis Robinson, starting a third consecutive time, added 15 points.
"Haley was outstanding. She did her job," Colorado coach Linda Lappe said. "I liked our resiliency. I liked our resolve. It was nice to see us be right there."
The Buffaloes, who have lost nine straight to the Cardinal, were within 57-52 four minutes into the final period but could not hold off Stanford, which scored the next 10 points, with Johnson sparking the run on a putback, an ensuing free throw, and then a blocked shot on the other end of the court.
"Every team is going to give it their all," Johnson said. "Rather than concentrate on the score, a better approach is focusing on the next play and just trying to get the job done."
Colorado cut the lead to 37-33 less than four minutes into the third quarter but the Cardinal rebuilt a double-digit lead before Kennedy Leonard hit a layup in the final seconds to bring the Buffaloes within 49-40 entering the final quarter.
The Buffaloes made six of their first seven shots and held an 11-3 advantage following Makenzie Ellis' layup with 4:22 left in the first quarter. Colorado went 3-of-17 the rest of the first half.
The Cardinal out-scored the Buffaloes 25-10 the rest of the half and took a 28-21 lead into the intermission.
The Buffaloes played without senior Jamee Swan, the team's top scorer and rebounder, who missed her second straight game with a back injury sustained going after a loose ball in a game last week.
"We missed her rebounding a lot," Lappe said. "We needed someone to get to the rim, which is what she can do. That hurt us as much as anything."
Colorado: Buffaloes assistant coach Jamie Carey began her college coach at Stanford under coach Tara VanDerveer. She was the Pac-10's Freshman of the Year in 2000 but was then forced to retire when the Cardinal's medical staff deemed her concussion issues too dangerous to continue. She transferred to Texas and was cleared to play there.
Stanford: Lili Thompson hit a 3-pointer in the first half and became the 36th Stanford player to record 1,000 career points. ... The Cardinal improved to 127-6 in Maples Pavilion since 2007-08. ... Stanford has held all but two of its opponents under 40 percent shooting. Texas shot 42.4 percent in its 77-69 victory over the Cardinal on Dec. 13 and Colorado shot 41.4 percent.
Colorado travels to No. 14 Arizona State on Friday.
Stanford travels to Oregon on Friday.