Things looked promising when Anthony Brown finished off a layup with 3:58 remaining to play in the game, giving the Stanford men's basketball team a slight edge.
The Buffs (10-7, 21-9) grabbed the upper hand for the fourth seed, holding their own fate when they visit California on Saturday night.
Stanford (9-8, 18-11) likely cost itself a first-round bye in the conference tournament, to be held in Las Vegas beginning next Wednesday.
"It's very disappointing," Stanford junior guard Chasson Randle said. "Especially coning home and having the crowd here and having the chance to grab the opportunity for a first-round bye."
The Cardinal is possibly looking at a must-win against Utah, which visits Saturday at 11 a.m., just to get back on the NCAA bubble.
"All I can think about is a very disappointing loss on our home floor," Stanford coach Johnny Dakwins said. "I know we have to regroup for Saturday."
The Cardinal picked the wrong time to suffer through its worst shooting night at home. Stanford was 21 of 57 from the floor, 4 of 17 from 3-point range, for a 36.8 percent night from the field.
"We had good shots," Dawkins said. "We just didn't make them. We didn't shoot free throws very well either. We've got to make them."
Randle scored a game-high 24 points on 9 of 18 shooting while Josh Huestis added nine points and a game-best 13 rebounds.
Huestis is seven rebounds shy of matching John Revelli, who had 798 career rebounds, for eighth on Stanford's all-time list.
It's just the third time in 15 home games that Stanford has shot under 40 percent. All three of those games have occurred in its past five at Maples Pavilion.
Colorado maintained its edge by the slimmest of margins through the first 12 minutes of the second half. The Buffs never led by more than eight points and Stanford remained within striking distance before going on an 8-0 run that tied the game at 46 with 7:49 remaining.
There were six lead changes through the first nine minutes of the contest before the Buffs opened an 8-point advantage heading into the final 1:25 of the first half.
Randle's jumper with 38 seconds left drew the Cardinal within three, but Colorado converted a late jumper to take a 33-28 halftime lead.
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