Only four days after Colorado upset 3-seed Duke to advance to the Sweet Sixteen, the Buffs played a hard-fought game against Iowa, eventually losing 77-87.
All eyes were on Colorado as they matched up against the Hawkeyes’ All-American guard: Caitlin Clark. The Buffs’ disciplined defense in the Duke game kept guard Celeste Taylor off the scoreboard, and this strategy proved to be critical to keep CU in the game against Iowa.
The Buffs and the Hawkeyes went back and forth throughout the first quarter. When Iowa guards would drain threes, Frida Foreman would immediately respond with her own 3-pointers. Jaylyn Sherrod stuck to what worked in the Duke matchup by finding Aaronette Vonleh and Quay Miller over the heads of defenders for easy layups. Although the crowd rallied hard for Clark, the Buffs kept their heads up and their momentum high. Even after a made basket by the Hawkeyes, the Buffs would send the ball right back down the court for a bucket of their own.
The second quarter brought even more success for the Buffs as they outscored the Hawkeyes 18-16. Tayanna Jones swatted down Iowa’s shots and sunk three-pointers on offense. Kindyll Wetta put up points from the three-point line as well, and Formann kept her scoring streak going. The Buffs were able to lock down Clark for the most part, but that meant leaving other key shooters open for easy shots. Sherrod was in foul trouble after the first quarter, so she sat out for the majority of the second.
“It’s never fun to play with foul trouble,” said Formann, “but the way we play defense [is] we don’t back down”.
As the lead switched back and forth between the two teams in the second quarter, guard Tameia Sadler made a last-second drive to the basket for a lay-up, sending the Buffs into halftime up by one.
The Buffs have had a pattern of starting the first half strong, but then hitting a slump in the third quarter, and their match against Iowa was no exception. After outsourcing the Hawkeyes in the second quarter, Colorado only scored 13 points to Iowa’s 25 in the third. The Buffs’ field-goal percentage was at a game-low, and they only made three of their eight free-throws.
“[Iowa] was hitting us downhill in transition, and they had a lot of really easy, clean looks,” said Head Coach JR Payne.
Iowa defenders stayed tighter on Formann, making it more difficult for her to drain threes. Miller turned up the heat towards the end of the quarter by getting even more aggressive in the paint. By the end of the third, CU had lost their lead from halftime and was trailing the Hawkeyes 53-64.
Iowa continued to hit three-pointers in the first minutes of the fourth quarter, but Miller responded with her own threes, the first ones of the entire half for Colorado. Sadler followed up with a 3-pointer as well, showing Iowa there was still a competitive game left to play. A strong drive and lay-up from Sherrod in the last two minutes of the game put Colorado with four points of Iowa, however, the Hawkeyes were able to grow their lead to 10 by the end of the fourth. The Hawkeyes walked away with an 87-77 victory, ending the Buffs’ historical tournament run.
Although Colorado surely had their eyes on a championship, there is no doubt that this season was an incredible success. The pure heart of the coaching staff and the unwavering perseverance of the players proved to the nation that Colorado is a force to be reckoned with. With the 2022-23 season behind them, the Buffs can reminisce on the past months and look forward to the bright future of Colorado Women’s Basketball.
“This team will definitely be back,” said Sherrod after the game, “I think everybody knows who Colorado is now, and we’ve earned some respect behind our name”.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Sophie McKeown at firstname.lastname@example.org.