Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Jordyn Siemens at email@example.com.
Colorado head coach Linda Lappe preaches defense, but her Buffaloes struggled to get a shot off at high(er) altitude against the University of Wyoming on Tuesday night. Senior Jamee Swan’s third double-double of the season (28 points, 13 rebounds) and 18 points from freshman point guard Kennedy Leonard pushed Colorado through, but they couldn’t overcome 36.1 percent field goal shooting in a 77-68 loss.
“Our defense just fell apart,” Swan said of the team’s fatal flaw against Wyoming. “We work a lot on defense, that’s kind of our hill to die on. We are a defensive team- that’s what we want to do.”
Despite a blocked shot and steal by Swan to give the Buffs extra possessions in the first quarter, no extra points came. Colorado shot 42.9 percent in the first quarter, sinking only nine of their 21 shots. The lone trey came from the freshman Leonard. Junior guard Lauren Huggins, the resident mayor of downtown for the Buffs, was 1-1 from close range in the quarter, and 2-3 overall in the game, but none of her attempts found the net from beyond the arc.
Wyoming effectively chipped away at Colorado’s lead early in the second. The Cowgirls finally overtook the Buffaloes at 1:05, after Huggins, sophomore center Zoe Correal, Swan and freshman guard Alexis Robinson racked up fouls in the quarter and sent Wyoming to the charity stripe. The Cowgirls went 5-of-6 from the line, while junior forward Haley Smith knocked down two free throws of her own with seconds to go before the buzzer.
Two quick baskets from Swan and a jumper from sophomore guard Brecca Thomas regained Colorado’s lead early in the second half, but the shooting struggles continued. Coach Lappe took a timeout with six minutes remaining in the third, after two breakaway layups from Wyoming’s Jordan Kelley took back the lead.
“In the first half we had a lot of transition options, with everyone running the court,” Leonard said. “In the second half we didn’t have as many, which is like our bread and butter on the offensive end.”
From there, the 3rd quarter became the Swan show on Colorado’s end of the court; the team’s lone senior put up 14 points and barely missed attaining the double-double with 9 rebounds by the start of the fourth. With 2:30 to play in the quarter, Swan had accounted for 25 of Colorado’s 46 points after a back-door dish from Alexis Robinson.
But Lappe has said this team must play together to reach its potential, and Swan’s percentage can’t account for the entire Buffs squad.
“We’re really positive but sometimes it gets a little negative. We need to come together and work harder than we say we’re going to work. Our actions speak louder than our words,” Leonard said.
The fourth quarter saw CU acclimate and inch back into the game; the deficit was only seven points with six minutes to play. Swan finally picked up her 10th rebound and third double-double of the season, but beyond the senior forward, Colorado couldn’t produce enough offense to mount a successful comeback. Wyoming responded with a 6-0 run before Leonard headed to the line and picked up two. Points bounced back and forth for the final few minutes, but the Cowgirls effectively herded the Buffaloes for a 77-68 win.
Swan and Leonard were the only two Buffaloes in double figures, and they were joined by fellow starters Smith, Thomas and Huggins as the only Buffaloes to score multiple field goals in the contest.
Conversely, Wyoming’s offense featured six players with double-digit point totals, led by Liv Roberts’ 13 points.
Colorado opens conference play on Saturday, Jan 2 in Boulder against the University of Washington. Catch the game at the Coors Events Center or on the Pac-12 Networks at 1 p.m. MST.
“We’re a young team,” Swan said. “When you’re young, you soak things up like a sponge. Once our sponges start to get everything, we’re going to be great in Pac-12, I have no doubt.”