Solid Defense Propels Buffs Past Louisiana Tech
BOULDER -- The Colorado Buffaloes used a solid all-round team effort headlined by 14 points from Peanut Tuitele to knock off Louisiana Tech 59-48 Saturday afternoon at the CU Events Center.
With a foundation of solid defense all game, the Buffs used an offensive spark in the fourth quarter to pull away from the Techsters (4-2) and improve to 6-0 on the season.
"That was a knock-down, drag-out, physical basketball game," CU coach JR Payne said. "As soon as it ended, is said 'We earned that one.' I'm really proud that we gutted this one out today."
Tuitele shot 7-of-11 from the field for her 14 points and added four rebounds. Mya Hollingshed overcame some foul trouble to score nine points and added five rebounds and three assists. Tayanna Jones added nine points off the bench, including several big plays in the fourth quarter on both ends of the floor.
The Buffs half-court offense was most effective when looking to the low post, either off a drive from Jaylyn Sherrod or Kindyll Wetta or from the high post. A total of 19 of the Buffs 25 field goals were layups and taking out fast break opportunities, 12 of the Buffs 17 field goals came on layups in the half-court offense. In the end, the Buffs finished with 18 assists on those 25 buckets.
"We are definitely a very selfless group," Payne said. "We love to share the ball and nobody cares who gets the points. Nobody cares who gets the accolades. I don't really care, we're just going to celebrate each other. Anytime you can have that many assists it's wonderful."
Sherrod finished with six points, six assists and four rebounds, playing just 23 minutes with some foul trouble of her own. Wetta came off the bench to score six points of her own and added three rebounds, two assists and a pair of steals running the offense at times.
Frida Formann hit a pair of three-pointers, including one to open the fourth quarter, and finished with eight points while Lesila Finau scored four points and Quay Miller had three points and a team-leading seven rebounds off the bench.
"We're discovering our depth," Payne said. "We certainly have more depth than we ever have. We have a lot of players that can play different positions. I think we're still discovering who can play and what types of games. That was a physical game to the players that played are the ones who respond to physicality."
How it happened
The first quarter was a back-and-forth affair that saw the Buffs take a 13-11 lead after ending the period with a 6-0 run over the last 74 seconds. La. Tech jumped out to a quick 4-0 and 6-2 lead before a Jones layup and Hollingshed three put the Buffs up 7-6 midway through the first period.
The Buffs would push that 6-0 run at the end of the first quarter to 10-0 through the first three-plus minutes of the second quarter, leading 17-11 after a Hollingshed layup. After a quick 4-0 run from La. Tech to bring it within three at 17-14, the Buffs defense went on lock-down and allowed just two points the rest of the quarter, building a 10-point lead at the half by a score of 26-16. CU allowed just one field goal from the Techsters in the quarter, who finished shooting 1-of-11 (9.1 percent).
The Buffs also accomplished that first half lead without Sherrod and Hollingshed on the floor as both sat the last part of the half with two fouls apiece.
The Techsters came out firing on all cylinders in the third quarter and after a quick Finau layup gave the Buffs a 12-point lead, they went on an 11-0 run to pull within one at 28-27. The Buffs would not surrender the lead, however, and rebounded to push the lead back to eight at 37-29 with a 9-2 run. La. Tech scored the last four points of the quarter to make it a four-point game at 39-35 entering the final period.
The Buffs hit back-to-back three pointers to open the fourth quarter, first from Formann then from Sherrod, to give them an eight-point cushion at 45-37. After scoring 13 points in each of the first three quarters, the Buffs scored 20 in the final quarter, maintaining about a 10-point cushion for the remainder of the game, winning 59-48.
After La. Tech cut a 12-point lead to one and another eight-point lead to four in the third quarter, the Buffs hit three-pointers on the first two possessions of the fourth quarter sandwiched by a Jones block on the other end to set the tone for the final quarter. The Buffs had hit just two three-pointers to that point of the game before Formann and Sherrod hit triples on those back-to-back possessions.
The Buffs now play Wisconsin Sunday to close out the Rocky Mountain Hoops Classic. Tipoff is scheduled for Noon MT.
"(A quick turn-around) is always tough, but especially because of this game," Payne said. "They're two very different teams. We have a mature team with a high IQ, we have a lot of veterans that will help us along with our staff that will help us turn our quick focus to Wisconsin."
This is the first Rocky Mountain Hoops Classic after a four-year hiatus after being played every season from 1987-2017 … The Buffs have won the event 21 times, including the last two times in 2016 and '17 ... Overall, Colorado is 51-11 in its own tournament … Sherrod matched her season best with six assists and has now hit that mark three times through six games … Sherrod had at least four rebounds and assist for the second time this season, also at Oklahoma State with five boards and six assists in that game … Tuitele hit double figures in points with 14 for the first time this season and led the Buffs in scoring for the first time … The Buffs improve to 6-0 for the fourth time under coach J.R. Payne … The Buffs improve to 33-1 in November and 51-29 at home in the Payne-era … The Buffs outscored the Techsters 18-2 off the bench and 17-8 on the fast break.