Brittany McPhee pours in 26 as Stanford beats Colorado

Photo of Tom FitzGerald

It took a long time for the Stanford women’s shooting to warm up Friday night. Until it happened, the Cardinal appeared in danger of losing their second straight game at home.

Colorado, which came into Friday tied for ninth place in the Pac-12 with a 3-9 record, gave the No. 8 Cardinal all they could handle until a fourth-quarter spurt put Stanford in control. It went on to a 64-51 win.

Brittany McPhee scored 20 of her game-high 26 points in the second half as Stanford (21-4, 11-2 Pac-12) scored its 12th straight win over Colorado. She also had 11 rebounds.

“We struggled offensively in the beginning, but Brit really carried us with her scoring,” Stanford head coach Tara VanDerveer said. “I use the analogy of an orchestra. It was a different solo tonight. Brit was aggressive offensively.”

With Oregon State’s upset loss to USC, Stanford moved into a tie for first place with the Beavers and Washington.

Despite a 4-for-13 shooting night, Erica McCall had 15 points and 10 rebounds. Marta Sniezek had eight assists. Stanford had a 47-33 rebounding advantage although it used a small lineup for much of the game.

“I’m proud of the way we played hard, but I’m disappointed in our rebounding effort,” Colorado head coach JR Payne said. “Even though we competed hard, I thought that was the difference in the ballgame.”

Makenzie Ellis led Colorado (13-11, 3-10) with 14 points, including four three-pointers. Kennedy Leonard, averaging 18.6 points, was held to seven, mainly by Briana Roberson. The Buffaloes led 44-43 late in the third quarter but were outscored 21-7 the rest of the way.

Stanford scored the first nine points of the fourth quarter, six of them by McPhee, for a 55-44 lead.

“Stanford was down for three quarters of this game, but they didn’t hang their heads,” said Payne, in her first season at Colorado after two at Santa Clara. “They stayed positive. They believed they were going to win. That’s a championship culture. That’s leadership. … We saw the flip side on our team. As soon as things went against us, we fell apart.”

A three by Roberson tied it 27-27 moments into the third quarter. Colorado pushed ahead 37-31 on threes by Alexis Robinson and Ellis.

McPhee banked in a shot, followed with a tough off-balance layup and hit two foul shots to tie it 37-37. Alanna Smith’s layup gave Stanford its first lead since the opening minutes, 39-37.

McPhee sank two more baskets in a 12-2 run that gave Stanford a 43-39 lead. Colorado pushed ahead 44-43 on five straight points by Leonard, but McCall sank a 23-foot three-pointer at the third-quarter buzzer for a 46-44 lead.

Neither team shot well in the first half. Colorado led at the half 27-24 by virtue of its 39 percent shooting. Stanford was even worse. It shot 36 percent and made just 1 of 6 three-point tries.

Tom FitzGerald is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: tfitzgerald@sfchronicle.com Twitter: @tomgfitzgerald