The University of Colorado Boulder women’s basketball team kicked off their season last week in Las Vegas, Nevada where they played the No. 1 ranked Louisiana State University Tigers. Expectations are high for the Buffs this season as they made The NCAA tournament last year as a six-seed before losing to The University of Iowa in the sweet sixteen. This 2023-2024 team returned four of their five starters from last season. They are extremely familiar with one another, which makes them better long term.
In the matchup against LSU on Nov. 6, people knew Colorado was a good team, as they were ranked No. 20 in the country. However, many expected this LSU team to make easy work of the Buffs. The Tigers won the National Championship last season and only got better heading into this year as they added one of the country’s best players in senior guard Hailey Van Lith. Van Lith averaged nearly 20 points a game last year at the University of Louisville before transferring to LSU and adding to an already stacked team.
The Tigers are headlined by Angel Reese, the 6’3 forward who took the internet by storm last year with her vocal leadership. on and off the court.
Colorado started this contest slowly as they struggled to get the offense going and turned the ball over seven times in the first quarter. After one quarter, the Buffs trailed 14-16. They had difficulty defending Van Lith on the off-ball screen action LSU kept showing them.
In the second quarter, however, the Buffs switched this action and forced Van Lith into difficult shots. Offensively, the Buffs settled in once the second quarter kicked off. Jaylyn Sherrod, a graduate student guard, got to the line a lot, and the rest of Colorado started hitting easy shots. The Buffs led 38-32 at half and never looked back – they held the lead for the remainder of the game.
Senior guard Frida Formann was unconscious from three-point land, making 7 out of 11 shots from beyond the arc in this game. Formann finished with 27 points and was critical in ensuring a Buffs win over the No. 1 Tigers. Aaronette Vonleh also dominated in this contest, putting up 24 points in just 15 shot attempts. The Tigers had difficulty defending the Buffs and the big nights from Colorado’s three-headed monster in Formann, Vonleh and Sherrod. Colorado won 92-78 in what some are calling the best win in Colorado history. With this win and the two other wins that followed Nov. 8 and Sunday, the Buffs have moved to a No. 5 ranking.
On Nov. 8, the Buffs squared off versus the Le Moyne College Dolphins for their first home game of the season. Before the game even kicked off, Colorado held a massive size advantage over the Dolphins, as Aaronette Vonleh and Quay Miller towered over Le Moyne’s forwards.
As the game kicked off, the Buffs quickly grabbed a 10-0 lead, scoring at will on the interior and really taking advantage of the size mismatch. The Buffs forced six Le Moyne turnovers within the first five minutes of this contest, which really hindered the Dolphins’ offense. Formann continued her hot start from the LSU game, putting up nine points in the first quarter against Le Moyne. The Buffs led 26-6 after the first quarter. They had 12 more rebounds than the Dolphins in just 10 minutes of gameplay.
The Buffs kept their foot on the accelerator in the second quarter, grabbing a 30-point lead before the half concluded. Colorado played selflessly, always looking for the open player no matter where they were on the floor. The Buffs finished the first half with 17 total assists. Senior guard Sherrod had seven of those 17. Colorado led the Dolphins 52-21 after one half with a great offensive and defensive showing.
The Buffs did more of the same in the second half, going on a 17-0 run midway through the third quarter that lasted over four minutes long. Head coach JR Payne gave all her players some game action and got everyone’s feet wet. Maddie Nolan, a graduate student guard from Indiana, had an underrated night off the bench as she drilled five three-pointers for a total of 15 points. On top of her excellent offensive showing, Nolan added some sensational defense as well.
Colorado was in total control of this game from the jump, as they were up 60 points at one point in the fourth quarter as everything was executed to perfection.
Colorado wound up winning this affair 97-38 against the Le Moyne Dolphins in what was another great showing from the Buffs.
“That was a great game. I knew we would be really focused and not have a hangover from last game,” said Payne. “Truly no one cares who scores the points or who gets the shots on this team.”
On Sunday, the Buffs followed with yet another win against the Oklahoma State University Cowgirls. Colorado is now undefeated 3-0 in what they hope will be a great season followed by a deep run in March.
The Buffs are back in action Saturday at 7 p.m. MST when they take on the Southern Methodist University Mustangs in Dallas, Texas. The game will stream on ESPN.
Contact Sports Editor Griffin Dreifaldt at Griffin.Dreifaldt@colorado.edu