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Buffs Bounce Trojans

Feb 12, 2021

Box Score (PDF) | Boxscore

BOULDER — The Colorado women's basketball team came back from down 13 points on its way to a 10-point win, 66-56, over Southern California on Friday night. 

Colorado (8-9, 6-8 Pac-12) finished with three players in double figures. Senior Mya Hollingshed led the way with 18 points, 12 of which came in the second half. Freshman Frida Formann hit five 3-pointers on her way to 17 points and junior Peanut Tuitele finished up with 11.. 

"I'm really proud of our ballclub today," head coach JR Payne exclaimed. "I was just telling them, it takes a lot more guts and grit, and resiliency to beat down not playing particularly well on either side of the floor. To not give up and kind of dig in and fight back. I'm really proud of how we responded because we were not playing very well."

Junior Lesila Finau captained the offense, playing almost the entire 40 minutes. She dished out four assists to go with her eight points, eight rebounds and two steals. 

"I thought Lesila was just incredible tonight," Payne added. "She had eight rebounds, eight points, four assists and zero turnovers. That's just the offensive side of the floor. I thought she defended really well. She's really using her length and her activity on the ball is fantastic. I'm also really proud of Lesila for how she's digging in when she's tired. These guys get tired. It is hard to play as much as they have. She doesn't quit when she's fatigued. She really digs in and kind of sucks it up and does it for her team."

Colorado shot 43.4 percent on the night (23-53) and hit 14-of-18 from the free-throw line. A major difference was the Buffs' ability to keep USC off the free-throw line. The Trojans made just seven trips to the line, hitting five shots. 

USC (9-8, 7-7 Pac-12) was led by Alissa Pili and her 12 points. 

HOW IT HAPPENED: The Buffaloes got out to a quick 10-5 start, getting five early points from Tuitele. The Trojans fought back with a 10-0 run to take a 15-10 lead by the 1:29 mark. Tuitele put a stop to the run with her seventh points of the quarter, but only momentarily. USC closed the final 1:15 of the quarter on a 6-0 run to take a 21-12 lead after the first quarter. 

The Trojan run continued into the second with a 3-pointer from Shalexxus Aaron, giving USC a 24-12 lead and forcing a CU timeout. 

The Buffs responded out of the stoppage with four straight points from Finau and Hollingshed, cutting the USC lead to 24-16. USC gained its largest lead of the half off a 3-pointer followed by a Jordyn Jenkins fast-break layup, putting CU in a 31-18 whole with just under five minutes remaining in the half. 

Colorado's offense got back into gear with an 8-0 run, starting with a Kylee Blacksten 3. Formann hit a 3 of her own to cap the run, bringing the Buffs back to within five, 31-26. CU scored the last four points of the half, making it a 12-2 run to close the half down 33-30.   

"During halftime, we just came together," Finau recalled. "We said, 'We need to pick it up, we need to take care of the ball, start playing defense, and get back on defense.' I think just believing in each other and talking each other through the tough times helped us."]

The Ladies of Troy got out to an eight-point lead, 40-32, in the first four minutes of the third quarter. A pair for Formann 3's separated by a Charlotte Whittaker free-throw gave the Buffs a 7-0 run, cutting the lead down to 40-39 with 4:02 to play. 

A late steal from Formann led to a Finau fast-break that tied the game at 45 with 1:15 to go in the third. Finau had the opportunity to give CU a lead, getting fouled on the play but missed on the free-throw. USC broke the tie with a Pili jumper, but Hollingshed got the last say for the Buffs, tying the game again at 47 to close the period. 

Hollingshed opened the fourth with a pair of free-throws, giving CU its first lead since 10-8 in the first quarter. She followed with a layup, scoring the first four points of the quarter, building the Buffs' lead to 51-47. 

CU didn't relinquish the lead the rest of the quarter. 

"I think our mindset is to not let anything slip through our hands as we have before and to always learn from our mistakes," Formann added. "We dug a hole in the first half but we came out at halftime and didn't fall back again which was really good."

A Desiree Caldwell jumper cut the CU lead to 51-49, but that was as close as the visitors would get the rest of the night. The Buffs held USC to just 3-for-11 in the frame and outscored the Trojans 19-9 in the final 10 minutes.

A Formann 3 with 1:59 to play put the game on ice for CU, giving the Buffs a 10-point lead (63-53). Late free-throws from Aubrey Knight handed CU its largest lead, 66-54, before a final basket from Pili in garbage time.

TURNING POINT: CU's 7-0 run in the third quarter helped turn the momentum back in favor of the Buffs. The run cut the deficit to one, 40-39. CU outscored USC 27-16 over the remaining 14:02. 

"It was a good stretch," Formann pointed out. "I think we were really good at executing our plays and knowing what we were going for. I knew that if I made a couple of 3's we would be back in the game. It was just a matter of going to who was open and we also defended well. Defense always creates offense, so it was easier for us to get easy baskets."

KEY STATISTICS: Colorado shot 50 percent (5-10) from the floor in the fourth quarter, totaling eight of its 19 points from inside the paint. Eight of CU's 14 made free throws came in the final 10 minutes, going 8-for-10 from the line. 

NOTES: The win snapped a three-game losing streak to the Trojans…CU's 13-point deficit marks its biggest comeback of the season (previous was eight to No. 1 Stanford)…Knight lead the bench with six points after missing the last two games…she had five rebounds, giving her 398 for her career…Hollingshed's 18 points give her 1,167 for her career, trailing for Brittan Wilson (1,194) for 23rd on CU's scoring list…Formann now has 44 3's on the season.  

NEXT UP: The Buffs finish off the home season on Sunday, hosting UCLA at 1 p.m. MT.