Contact CUIndependent Staff Writer Jake Mauff at email@example.com
The Colorado Buffaloes (7-20) pulled out a victory against the California Golden Bears (12-15) in Boulder on Sunday, 78-57. It was the team’s second conference win and first in five games.
There was a lot of trepidation going into the game. The team was coming off a terrible loss at home against Stanford. In the team’s last contest against Cal, the team failed to score for 18 straight minutes, leaving a bad taste in the team’s mouth.
On senior day, Colorado seemed determined to get the victory. After ten minutes, the outcome was debatable. Cal took a 24-22 lead behind a strong first quarter from freshman center Kristine Anigwe. The center attacked in the post, gathering either fouls or baskets. She had 18 of the team’s 24 points.
Anigwe then went down with a right leg injury. She was able to walk off on her own, but had a noticeable limp as she went to the bench. This slowed down the Bears’ offense while allowing Colorado to attack on defense.
“We changed our scheme a little bit,” head coach Linda Lappe said. “She was our number one, number two, and number three defensive key. We knew the ball was going to go in there a lot.”
Offensively, the team had one of their best showings of the season, making 47.8 percent of their 67 shots. This was spearheaded by the three players owning double digit scoring totals. The team’s leading scorer, junior forward Haley Smith, had the least impressive performance of the three. She still scored 24 points and grabbed five rebounds.
Senior center Jamee Swan and freshman guard Kennedy Leonard both tallied double-doubles. Swan was third on the team in points, 18, but was first in rebounds, 12, while Leonard scored the second most points, 23, and had the most assists, 13.
Swan also had an impressive day on the defensive side of the ball. She had a hand in 10 Cal turnovers, grabbing six steals and blocking four shots. This helped Cal turn the ball over 24 times. For her last home game, Swan left with a memorable performance.
“It feels amazing,” Swan said. “It’s hard to put into words. It’s nice to get a win, but on senior night it’s even better.”
There were some bumps in the road to victory. The team had two points come from its bench players. Junior forward Lauren Huggins didn’t even take a shot. On offensive performances like today, this can be overlooked. There will be times when the team needs a solid contribution from its reserve players.
Fouling was once again a problem for the team. The Buffs were whistled 23 times, allowing the Golden Bears to go to the line 26 times. This even led to two Colorado players fouling out. Colorado also had some rebounding troubles in the first half. The team was able to overcome this deficiency in the third and fourth quarters, grabbing out more rebounds than Cal in the last 20 minutes. These problems can be overlooked with the convincing win the team took home today, but if they aren’t addressed, these problems will pop up again.
“We need to use this as momentum,” Leonard said. “We know what we’re capable of. . . This is going to be a huge tell of what kind of team we are, especially going into the Pac-12 Tournament.”
The Buffs will look to start a winning streak on Thursday when the team travels to Washington State to face the Cougars. Tipoff is scheduled for 8 p.m. (MST).