Riding high after their defeat of the No. 8 ranked UCLA Bruins on Jan. 27, the Colorado women’s basketball team faced a tough loss against the USC Trojans on Sunday, Jan. 29, at the CU Events Center. Following this 54-71 loss, Colorado still has one of the higher rankings in conference play, with an overall record of 16-5 and 7-3 in Pac-12.
From the start, both teams set a quick pace for the match. Guard Jaylyn Sherrod flew down the court during transitions, while Frida Formann trailed at the three-point line, looking for outside shots against the USC defense.
The Trojans responded with equivalent speed. They sent several of their guards straight down the middle of the Buffs’ key, which resulted in numerous lay-ups. USC also fought hard for offensive rebounds, sending the ball back out to their shooters for additional scoring opportunities.
In the second quarter, sophomore center Aaronette Vonleh stepped up to the plate by taking multiple shots outside the key, giving CU the points they needed to reduce the Trojans’ growing lead. Vonleh also played a tough defense that resulted in a few turnovers. At one point, she was called for an and one as she attempted to stop a driving USC guard.
In addition, center Quay Miller proved essential for the Buffs’ attack. She held her ground in the Trojans’ key in order to snag lob passes from outside the three-point line.
However, despite the Buffs’ offensive vigor, USC went on a 9-1 scoring run toward the end of the second quarter, giving them a surge of momentum leading into the second half. The first half ended with the Buffs trailing behind, 22-26.
“When [USC] went on that 9-1 run, I think people were fatigued… and at that point, we didn’t have any stoppages in play,” said head coach JR Payne. “We went into halftime on a down note, which is hard.”
The Trojans’ lead continued to increase during the second half of the match, with a USC three-pointer right off the bat. In the third quarter, USC proceeded to make five out of eight attempted three-pointers, while CU only managed to get one of their three-pointers to fall.
In response to the Trojans’ aggressive attack, the Buffs went into a full-court press halfway through the quarter, leading to a turnover and a bucket from Miller. Following this, came a clean three-pointer from guard Tameiya Sadler, which momentarily shifted the energy in favor of CU as they went on an 8-0 run. However, the Buffs’ efforts proved inadequate as USC managed to score a whopping 26 points in the third quarter, increasing their lead to 52-41.
The Trojans’ strength and size certainly proved to be a huge factor in their success throughout the match. This could be seen most clearly in the final quarter, as their centers hit multiple shots in the Colorado key. Though the Buffs had anticipated the size difference after scouting USC prior to the match, they were unable to adapt their defense and offense enough to compensate for this disadvantage.
“Every team in this league is so good, you have to actually beat them in order to win,” Payne said. “We did not do that today.”
However, despite the tough loss, the Buffs did end the game with a few notable accomplishments. Miller hit her 1,000th point in the fourth quarter against the Trojans, a testament to her impressive talent and unwavering effort throughout her career at CU.
“I’m happy that I came and got that milestone in Colorado with the Buffs,” Miller said.
Going forward, Payne and the team are confident about their prospects for the rest of the season, as one of the higher-ranked teams in the Pac-12 conference.
In particular, Payne has been pleased about the strong turnout for the team’s recent home games. As the Buffs women’s basketball team continues to prove themselves against top-ranked teams across the nation, CU fans have grown even more excited to watch their team play. The crowd turnout proves to be essential in every game and will be critical for Colorado’s success as they get closer to the post-season tournament.
“The crowds are awesome,” Payne said. “[Their support] is so important and helpful for us to continue to win and play in a great environment.”
The Buffs will travel to Oregon this week to compete against the University of Oregon on Friday, Feb. 3, followed by Oregon State on Sunday, Feb. 5. The team will return to Boulder for a home game against Washington State on Friday, Feb. 10, as they continue their Pac-12 conference play.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Sophie McKeown at email@example.com.