Buffs Battle, Fall Short to No. 6 Arizona
BOULDER - JR Payne and the Colorado Buffaloes women's basketball team took No. 6 Arizona to the brink on Friday. CU led for almost 33 minutes but in the end, it was the Wildcats walking away with a 62-59 decision at CU Events Center.
Colorado falls to 3-4 overall and 1-3 in Pac-12 play. Arizona improved to 5-0 and 4-0 in Pac-12 play.
Jaylyn Sherrod, Frida Formann, and Mya Hollingshed all finished with 11 points each to lead the Buffaloes. Hollingshed also led the team in rebounds with seven. Zuzanna Kulinska also pitched in with a career-high eight points.
The Buffaloes led by as many as 12 points late in the third quarter but the Wildcats had a strong final quarter, outscoring CU 20-8, to come back and steal the victory.
Arizona was led by Aari McDonald, who finished the game with 24 points.
HOW IT HAPPENED: Colorado came out of the gate aggressive on both ends of the floor. Hollingshed got the Buffs their first lead with a jumper to put them up 2-0. Then, after a McDonald three, the Buffs went on an 8-0 run and quickly jumped out to a 10-3 lead by 5:16 remaining in the first quarter. The Wildcats responded with a Sam Thomas 3 fresh out of the timeout. The Buffs maintained a strong lead for the rest of the quarter until Arizona's Helena Pueyo was fouled on a 3-point make and then followed with the free-throw, cutting the CU lead to 18-15.
The Buffs began the second quarter strong as well, going on a 7-0 run which began with an Aubrey Knight layup. Then Cate Reese hit a jumper for Arizona and both squads played strong defense and kept the second quarter-scoring minimal. The Wildcats scored just five points in the quarter and shot just 13.3 percent from the field and 0-for-6 from behind the arc. As the seconds wound down, Sherrod drove into the lane and hit a smooth floater to lead the Buffs into the locker room with a 27-20 lead.
The Wildcats took the momentum in the beginning of the half and gained a one-point (33-32) lead with 5:43 remaining in the quarter. Kulinska hit back-to-back shots to give the Buffs the lead back, 36-33. Later in the quarter, the Buffs extended their lead thanks to a 9-0 run to take a 46-35 advantage. The two teams exchanged baskets to end the quarter and the Buffs took a 51-42 lead into the final frame.
Arizona only tallied four field goals in the fourth quarter but went 12-for-14 from the free-throw line to out total CU 20-8. The Wildcats' defense shut down the Buffaloes on offense, forcing them to shoot just 2-for-13 from the field. Colorado also struggled from the free-throw line in the fourth, shooting just 3-of-12 from the stripe. Arizona clinged to a four-point lead with 19 seconds when Formann launched a deep 3-pointer to get CU back to within one, 60-59. Hollingshed had a 3-point shot at the buzzer just miss the mark. That would have sent the game to overtime.
TURNING POINT: The Wildcats went on a 13-2 run to start the fourth quarter and took the lead 55-53 which helped lead them to outscore Colorado 20-8 in the final period.
KEY STAT: Colorado went just 3-for-12 from the free-throw line, including just 1-for-6 in the final 3:20 of the game.
QUOTABLE:"In the end, we had our chances, and we didn't go out and win that ball game. We competed, battled, and did all those things but it was right there for the taking and we didn't take it. We're young and I'm glad that we were in this game, but I'm not one for moral victories when I think we should have won the ball game." - JR Payne
NOTES: The Buffs almost had their first top-10 win since 2015, when they defeated No. 8 Oregon State in the Pac-12 tournament...Arizona's five points in the second quarter was the fewest allowed in a quarter this season by the Buffs...Hollingshed is now just 11 points shy of 1,000 for her career...CU's 24 third-quarter points were the most in a conference game this season...CU outrebounded Arizona, 41-38...Arizona's biggest lead was four (60-56) with 19 seconds to play in the fourth quarter...Kulinska finished 4-for-4 from the field...Tayanna Jones got her first playing time as a Buff (1:23).
UP NEXT: The Colorado women's basketball team will return to the CU Events Center Sunday afternoon, when they will take on the Arizona State Sun Devils at 2 p.m. Game will be broadcast on the Pac-12 NetworkS.