Turning the page to 2021, the University of Colorado Buffs women’s basketball team committed a season-high 21 turnovers Friday at the CU Events Center. Although that may not sound like a recipe for success, Colorado’s defense held stout down the stretch to earn a 60-50 win over Washington.
Thirteen days after a gut-wrenching loss to No. 6 Arizona, head coach JR Payne’s squad boosted its record to 4-4 overall and 2-3 in Pac-12 play.
Senior forward Mya Hollingshed kicked off the scoring for the Buffs, nailing back-to-back layups in what was a historic night for her. With the Buffs down 30-27 near the end of the first half, Hollingshed nailed a free throw to become the 32nd player in CU history to reach 1,000 career points.
“It’s always great to hit that milestone,” Hollingshed said. “It’s all thanks to my teammates and my coaches for just trusting me to score the ball and get the ball to me. I’m just really proud of where I came and just this whole organization and this whole program.”
CU shot just 1-of-13 from deep; its lone three-point make came courtesy of Hollingshed in the second quarter. Freshman guard Frida Formann missed seven threes in a rare cold night beyond the arc. Formann found other ways to contribute, however, tying the team lead with five rebounds and three assists on the afternoon.
When the shots weren’t falling behind the arc, CU adjusted nicely with 42 points in the paint. Sophomore guard Jaylyn Sherrod has thrived in the paint all season but struggled to make shots fall against the Huskies. She shot 0-for-6 from the field but found six points at the free throw line. It was a challenging game physically for Sherrod, who hit the floor hard in both the first and third quarter and was temporarily removed from the game both times.
“Jaylyn is one of the toughest players I’ve ever coached,” Payne said. “No matter what the pain is she’s always willing to sacrifice and step up because she knows her team needs her to, and she wants to be that player — she is that player.”
In Payne’s fifth year leading the Buffs, her teams are just 9-50 when trailing at the half. Colorado was down 33-28 at the break but charged back with 17 third quarter points. Junior guard Aubrey Knight put CU ahead 45-44 on a layup with time dwindling in the third quarter. Because scoring would most likely come at a premium against a strong Washington team, CU’s focus shifted to defense.
“This whole week in practice we had been focusing on our defense,” said Knight, who had a season-high 11 points. “We knew we weren’t really going to know what defense we are playing. Whether it’s man or zone or what zone they were technically in. We knew that our offense was going to be a little bit harder to get, so we just really focused on our defense because that was something that we could control.”
Payne said that she knew it would be a choppy game with Washington’s strong defense, but it was CU’s defense who held the Huskies to 23% shooting in the second half.
“I am really proud of how we played today,” Payne said. “We knew that it would be a little bit of a discombobulated game when you play Washington. They have so many different things that they throw at you. It’s hard to play a real free-flowing, smooth, pretty game.”
With 13 days to digest missing nine fourth-quarter free throws against Arizona, CU was 5-of-7 from the line in the fourth quarter to protect its slim lead. Along with their clutch shooting, the Buffs held Washington scoreless for the last 5:17 on a 9-0 run.
“You can’t even imagine the number of free throws that we’ve shot in the last five days,” Payne said. “Our players have been asked to shoot at least 100 every day. So, over the last five days, a lot of them are probably close to 1,000 free throws. I’m really happy with us being able to knock those down.”
Colorado wraps up its four-game homestand with a noon matchup against Washington State on Sunday.
Contact CU Independent Visuals/Operations Manager Nigel Amstock at firstname.lastname@example.org.