The game came down to the wire between No. 25 Colorado (16-4 overall, 7-2 PAC-12) and No. 8 UCLA (17-4 overall, 6-3 PAC-12) Friday night at the CU Events Center. Colorado’s Kindyll Wetta shot from the corner and scored a three-pointer with 1.9 seconds on the clock in overtime, sending the Buffs over the Bruins.
“I’ve never made a game-winning shot,” said Wetta. “Not even in middle school or high school, but tonight I mean, it felt good. I knew that I was probably in the open. I saw them sag early, so I was ready to shoot.”
For the third time this season, the Colorado Buffaloes have knocked off an AP top-25 team. The Buffs took down No.9 Utah (then No. 8), No. 19 Arizona (then No. 14) and now No. 8 UCLA. All ranked wins have occurred in Boulder and the Buffs have extended their home reign to 9-0. This is the third time in a row Colorado has beaten the Bruins under JR Payne and the first time the Buffs have defeated a ranked UCLA team.
“I think that we’re proving to teams that we really can compete with anybody, especially on our home floor, ” said Quay Miller. “It’s a pride thing and we own what we wear across our chest. So we really take it personal when teams try to show up and try to win against us on our court. Like, it’s just not something we’re going for.”
Multiple Buffs had a double-digit night. Jaylyn Sherrod led the team with 20 points and six assists. Those six tallied Sherrod to 400 career assists at Colorado, making her just the eighth women’s basketball player in program history to do so. Following Sherrod, Miller recorded her third double-double this season, tallying 18 points and 12 rebounds. Wetta tallied 13 points and six assists followed by the final double-digit Buff Aaronette Vonleh with 11 points.
How it happened
The first quarter was a game of runs. The Buffs started off strong out of the gate, putting up 7-points against the Bruins after an opening three-pointer. UCLA quickly followed suit and returned the favor with 6 points, putting them up 9-7 against the Buffs. Colorado attempted to retaliate but the Bruins shut down their efforts with another 9-point run. In the final seconds of the first, Miller had a layup that slimed the Bruins’ lead 19-13 entering the second.
The Buffaloes’ offense went to work in the first few minutes of the second, extending yet another run for Colorado to 8-0. This run allowed the Buffs to tie the Bruins. The remainder of the first half was close yet UCLA began to put four points up for every Colorado two. Entering halftime the Bruins led the Buffs 33-28. At this point, there had been four other times Colorado had trailed at the half this season. The Buffs were 1-3 when trailing, their only win coming from a home game against the Air Force Academy Nov. 19.
JR Payne’s Buffs hit the ground running in the third, knocking down four 3-pointers and one layup in the first five minutes, giving Colorado the lead 44-39. For the remainder of the third, UCLA battled to gain the lead. The Bruins attempted to respond with layups but they did not compare to Miller’s free throws and 3’s. The Buffs and Bruins had matched scores three times but Colorado kept the upper-hand and never turned over the lead. Entering the final quarter, the Buffaloes led by two 53-51.
“I think we definitely know we’re amped up and fired up,” said Miller in regard to the third quarter. “We always try to flush that first half and focus on our third quarter. The first three minutes are key for us. But we’re not really looking at the score. We’re just trying to keep stepping on their necks. I think that’s what keeps us going and whenever we do have a slip up that makes us want to cram it down their throat even more.”
The final 10 minutes of regulation were nothing short of thrilling. Early on, the Bruins regained the lead off of a three-pointer, making it 54-53. The Buffaloes would quickly retaliate but be counteracted by UCLA. Colorado continuously tried to lengthen the lead off of Sherrod and Wetta’s layups. Overall, the lead had switched over five times ending in a tie 64-64 sending the contest into overtime.
A five-minute overtime ensued shortly after with both teams looking severely fatigued. Right off of the bat, UCLA scored a 3-pointer setting the score 67-64. There was little doubt that the Buffs felt the pressure as Sherrod went 2-for-2 from the line to put the Buffs within one point. Off of a Wetta jump shot, Colorado once again led only by 68-67. The Bruins were granted two from the line after a Charlotte Whittaker foul. UCLA sunk both which separated them one above the Buffs 69-68. Sherrod put up a jumper off of a fast break, giving the Buffs two more.
Another Buff foul put UCLA at the line. The Bruins shot for one tying the score 70-70 with 42 seconds on the clock. Colorado put up amazing defensive efforts to keep the ball in their possession for the final 35 seconds. The Buffs dribbled out the ball until Sherrod passed to Wetta in the corner where she made the game-winning shot. UCLA’s Kiki Rice attempted a three-point buzzer beater but was too short.
“That shot was just one of the biggest shots that we’ve seen all year,” said Head Coach JR Payne. “Just so proud of Kin. She’s been working on her game and putting in that time and just so much confidence.”
This was no easy win for the Buffaloes. UCLA outscored Colorado in points off of turnovers, second-chance points, and bench points. The Buffaloes did excel in fast break points (19) as well as points in the paint (42). Colorado’s defensive efforts were clearly conveyed on the stat sheets when UCLA averaged 36.8 field goal percentage (25-for-68) and 32 three-point percentage (8-for-25). The Buffaloes averaged a 44.6 field goal percentage 929-for-65) and a 46.7 three-point completion (7-for-15).
The Buffaloes struggled to convert free throw opportunities into points averaging a 50-percent (8-for-16) while UCLA converted 75% of their shots (12-for-16).
The women’s basketball team also saw one of their largest fan attendances this year at 2,227 people.
“First of all, thanks to the huge crowd that came out tonight,” said Payne. “Hopefully, we’ll continue to grow [in size]. Also, unbelievably proud of our ball club tonight. So many different people stepped up in the first half. We had some foul trouble in the first half. Other people came in, gave great minutes, executed down the stretch and executed new plays and new positions.”
The Buffaloes will face off against the USC Trojans this Sunday at the CU Events Center. Colorado will tip-off against USC at 12 p.m. MST (PAC-12).
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Malaina Humphreys at Malaina.Humphreys@colorado.edu.