Facing off against the Pac-12’s surprise team, the Colorado Buffaloes women’s basketball team fell to the Washington State Cougars, 76-63 Sunday afternoon at the CU Events Center. Colorado’s defense allowed a season-high 54% shooting effort and dropped to 4-5 overall and 2-4 in the Pac-12. WSU was picked to finish last in the Pac-12’s preseason media poll but is now 4-1 in conference play.
Coming off a 60-50 victory over Washington on Friday, a weekend sweep of the Pac-12’s Washington schools appeared hopeful early on. Sophomore point guard Jaylyn Sherrod nailed a three-pointer and a layup to give CU an 8-4 lead five minutes into the game. CU’s lead was short-lived, however, as WSU ended the quarter on an 11-0 run. Entering the second quarter, WSU stretched the run to 16-1 and led the Buffs 20-11. Head coach JR Payne said it was difficult to come back after a “sluggish” end to the first quarter.
“Honestly we just came out kind of flat today,” Sherrod said. “We normally don’t do that, but you do have games sometimes when you come out flat. That’s not our expectation, of course, but that’s just what happened today. We had to try to claw back and dig back from the hole that we put ourselves in that first quarter.”
Colorado couldn’t take the lid off the basket for the remainder of the first half, shooting just 27% at the break. Payne’s Buffs were in jeopardy of shooting below their game-low 29% against Oregon State. It was a rough weekend for freshman guard Frida Formann, who shot 0-for-7 from long range against Washington and was just 1-for-11 from deep on Sunday. She did, however, impress inside the arc and from the charity strip to end with 14 points. Payne believed Formann’s poor performance on Friday may have leaked into Sunday’s game.
“I haven’t met with her at all about it but it’s tough,” Payne said. “Shooters want to see the ball go through the net and it feels good to see it go through the net. But when it doesn’t, I did think Frida did a really nice job of finding other ways to be effective.”
Colorado trailed 33-22 entering the third quarter but fared better in the second half. The Buffs shot an improved 34% and cut the deficit to seven points in the fourth quarter. Although CU stayed competitive in the second half, the poor first quarter was too much to rebound from.
WSU guard Krystal Leger-Walker finished with 25 points and her sister Charlisse Leger-Walker followed with 17 to lead the Cougars’ offense.
“They’re just a really good duo,” Formann said. “They read the defense very well so we want to stress them out and pressure them but they were just smarter than us.”
The Buffs’ bench scored just 10 points while Formann, Sherrod and senior forward Mya Hollingshed scored 46 combined on the afternoon.
“If your opponent is shooting 54% from the floor and you only have three players in double figures and not a lot of productivity off the bench, this league is just too good,” Payne said. “It’s going to be tough to beat people like that.”
Looking at the positives, Payne was pleased with CU’s free-throw shooting and rebounding effort. WSU didn’t miss many shots but junior guard Aubrey Knight was there to snatch 10 of CU’s 38 rebounds. Led by Sherrod and Hollingshed’s six free throw makes, CU shot 71% from the stripe after entering the game last in the Pac-12 at 61%.
Colorado will look to get back on track in Los Angeles against the No. 11 UCLA Bruins on Friday at 5 p.m. MST.
Contact CU Independent Visuals/Operations Manager Nigel Amstock at firstname.lastname@example.org.