Buffs Hold on in Pullman
PULLMAN, Wash. — Historically, the trip to the Palouse and Beasley Coliseum has not been a friendly one for the Colorado women's basketball team. Friday was no walk in the park either, but the Buffaloes reversed their fortune and held on for a 60-57 win over Washington State.
For Colorado, the win marks just the second in Pullman in 10 trips.
"I am just really proud of our ballclub," head coach JR Payne exclaimed. "There were a lot of things we didn't do well, giving up 18 offensive rebounds. I think we gave up five on one possession alone. We fouled a couple of 3-point shooters and things like that. But there were so many positives as far as taking care of the basketball, finding different ways to get Mya [Hollingshed] the ball. There were just a lot of different things we had to do. We switched up our defense late. I'm super proud of our team for getting this victory, which we all know is difficult to get in the Palouse."
CU had a group of four players that were responsible for the offense on Friday. Senior Mya Hollingshed led all players with 28 points. The Houston, Texas, native, was nearly unstoppable, posting a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds in the first half. Junior Aubrey Knight totaled 11 points and four rebounds off the bench. Juniors Peanut Tuitele and Tayanna Jones each finished with 10 points.
"It's not often you see a line like Frida's [Formann]," Payne continued. "Frida being on the floor helps open things up for other people so it was even more remarkable that Mya was able to do that without her 'shooter' pulling the defense away. Mya was scoring every possible way. It was almost like a rehash of the Stanford game, face-up rips, back-to-the-basket scores, high-post shots, high-post rips. She was giving them all that they can handle."
The Buffs pull back to .500 on the season (9-9) and 7-8 in the Pac-12. It also marks Colorado's first three-game Pac-12 winning streak since the 2012-13 season.
Washington State (9-10, 7-10 Pac-12) was led by Charlisse Leger-Walker and her 21 points and career-high 13 rebounds.
The offense wasn't necessarily on showcase throughout the game, scoring just 30 points in each half, but the Buffs' second-half defense didn't shy away from the spotlight. Colorado limited WSU to eight points in the third quarter and saw its lead grow to 10 in the fourth.
It wasn't until the final half of the fourth quarter that the Cougars' offense would kick back into gear. Key free-throws down the stretch, from Lesila Finau, Jones and Hollingshed helped preserve the victory.
"I think every single thing we're accomplishing is a huge step [forward]," Payne added. "It's a cred to people like Mya, Peanut and Aubrey and the kids that have been here a long time and have put in a whole lot of work to get us into a position where we're really competing at a high level."
HOW IT HAPPENED: Colorado shot 60 percent (6-for-10) in the opening quarter, helping climb out of a 5-1 hole to start. A 3-pointer from Knight got the ball rolling for CU. The Buffs hit 4-from-6 from deep in the first quarter, with Jones 3 giving CU a 17-13 lead. Hollingshed got off to a hot start, scoring eight points off 3-for-5 shooting.
Washington State struggled after its quick start, shooting just 2-for-8 from 3 and 7-for-19 overall. Johanna Teder provided the bulk of the WSU offense, tallying nine points on 4-for-4 shooting. A late Teder 3 cut the CU lead to 17-16 at the end of the quarter.
The Cougars took the lead, 18-17 off a Charlisse Leger-Walker, layup on the first possession of the second quarter, but a Tuitele 3 handed it right back to CU on the other end. Colorado held the lead until Washington State tied the score at 26 with just under four minutes to go. WSU jumped up by three, 29-26, late in the quarter but the Buffs held WSU to a 0-for-4 close to the half and got four straight points from Hollingshed to retake the lead, 30-29.
Colorado didn't relinquish the lead the rest of the day, opening the third quarter with a 3-point play by Jones to claim a 33-29 lead. CU only hit four field goals (4-10) in the quarter but would go 5-for-5 from the free-throw line to outscore WSU 13-8 in the quarter. The Buffs' defense held Washington State to a 0-for-7 start to the half and held the Cougars to just 2-of-18 in the quarter.
"I thought T [Toriano Towns] made a great decision to go zone [in the second half] even though they have a bunch of good shooters," Payne explained. "We were pretty long at times when we had Tay playing the two, Aubrey the three with Mya, Peanut and Sila. That's a long group that was able to contest shots. I thought, for the most part, even the shots they made, were pretty contested."
CU's lead hit 10, 51-41, inside the first four minutes of the fourth quarter. From there WSU slowly worked back into the game, getting two key 3's to cut the Buffs' lead to 51-48 with 4:46 to play. Again, CU leaned on its defense, holding WSU to 2-of-7 shooting in the final five minutes.
Hollingshed made CU's final three field goals, giving CU a 57-53 lead with 1:20 to go. WSU capitalized off a CU turnover and cut the lead to 57-55 with 32 seconds to play.
The Buffs made four trips to the free-throw line in the final 26 seconds and were able to hold off the Cougars from the line.
"We know our goals and what we are working for towards the postseason," Hollingshed said. "We know that we have to take it one game at a time. We're not going to play all three games at once. Each night is important. We are focusing on our scout, the film and making sure that we understand who's on the floor and in the game to be successful. I think everybody knows what is at stake and everybody's on board."
TURNING POINT: CU's shutdown defense held Washington State to an 0-for-11 shooting span between the second and third quarter. WSU took a 29-26 lead at the 2:01 mark of the second quarter and did not hit another field goal until the 6:25 mark of the third quarter. During the span, the Buffs were able to regain and hold the lead the rest of the contest.
KEY STATISTICS: Only five players scored on the day for CU, with four hitting double figures. The four players accounted for 59 of CU's 60 points.
NOTES: CU is now 2-8 all-time in Pullman and improves to 8-12 all-time against WSU…It was CU's first win since in Pullman since Jan. 7, 2012…Hollingshed finished with four steals, giving her 102 for her career…she also moved past Brittany Wilson (1,194) for 23rd on CU's all-time scoring list with 1,195 career points…Hollingshed now has 16 career double-double (eight this season) and 13 career 20-point games (four this season)…Her 12 rebounds give her 656 on her career 15th all-time…Colorado got outrebounded 41-30, its largest margin of the season.
NEXT UP: Colorado continues on the road, heading west to Seattle on Sunday. The Buffs will take on Washington at 3 p.m. MT.