Buffs Top San Francisco, Remain Unbeaten
BOULDER – The Colorado Buffaloes have plenty of reasons to be cheerful this holiday season, headlined by the team's perfect 11-0 finish to the non-conference season. The Buffs secured its second undefeated start to the non-conference season in the JR Payne era with an 80-56 win over San Francisco on Monday.
Colorado got key contributions from fifth-year senior Mya Hollingshed and junior Quay Miller to put a wrap on the team's final home game of 2021. Hollingshed posted a season-high 23 points and was one rebound shy of a double-double in just 24 minutes. Miller recorded her fifth straight double-digit effort, posting 19 points on 8-of-11 shooting.
Colorado handed out 17 assists on 29 field goals on Monday, led by freshman Kindyll Wetta's four helpers. Miller also got into the season of giving, matching her season-high with three assists. Monday marked the team's eighth game in a row with 15 or more assists.
"I'm really excited about how we played," Payne explained after the win. "We knew that it would be a total team effort for us to be successful tonight. Defensively, we knew Kindyll, Jaylyn [Sherrod] and different people would really have to step up and guard their best player [Ioanna Krimili]. That's definitely a low for her [five points]. That was important for us to be successful tonight. We can't coach a perfect game as far as going 100 percent from the floor, stopping them from scoring ever. But our effort is totally in our control and our team played really hard. I am super proud of us and excited for being undefeated in the preseason and excited for them to have a little bit of a break."
USF (5-6) had two players get into double figures with Jasmine Gayles (15) and Claudia Langarita (14) combing for 29 of the team's 56 points. The Dons hit 40 percent from the field (20-50) and turned the ball over 15 times, leading to 26 points for the Buffs.
"It feels like everyone is just down to win," Hollingshed said of the Buffs roster. "We all have the same goal and I think we're all buying into that and listening to the coaches – doing everything we can to win."
How it happened
Colorado got out to a quick start, hitting its first three shots. 3's from Hollingshed and Finau helped the Buffs jump out to an 11-4 lead and it was clear USF couldn't handle Hollingshed early on. The Houston, Texas, native had eight points in the first five minutes and finished with 13 points in seven minutes, before being forced to sit the rest of the half with two fouls.
CU used the 3-ball to its advantage in the first quarter. Hollingshed hit three from deep and Miller and Lesila Finau added one apiece to go 5-for-8 in the quarter.
Without Hollingshed for the entire second quarter, the Buffs were forced to look for other scoring options. Wetta was the main benefactor scoring five of her seven points in the second. She hit one 3-pointer and was 2-for-2 from the free-throw line. Miller added four points in the frame.
"It's nice [to have options when Mya is on the bench] and it's something I think is going to be a big strength for us this year," Wetta noted. "You can put anybody at any [guard] spot and we can do very well. There's not much of a drop-off. That's a good thing for our team."
USF fired back from behind the arc in the second quarter. The Dons used four 3's in the second to outscore CU 16-14 in the period. The Buffs lead hit 16 points, 32-16, off a Miller swipe and score, but the Buffs would go just 5-for-14 in the quarter. USF used an 11-2 run to help shirk the CU lead to 39-32 at the half.
The Buffs shut down the 3-point line the remainder of the day, holding USF to 3-for-10 in the final 20 minutes.
"[The message] was being able to communicate more, defensively in the second half and make sure that everything from the 3-point line was contested," Payne continued. "If they hit one right in your face with a hand up high then God bless them, but we did not want to give up any more uncontested."
A Finau 3 opened the third quarter for the Buffs and started a 7-0 run, extending CU's lead to 46-32. Finau scored eight points in the third quarter as the Buffs flirted with a 20-point lead.
Two quick strikes from Sherrod and Hollingshed gave Colorado its first 20-point lead of the day, 66-45, early in the fourth quarter. The Buffs shot a game-high 53.8 percent in the final 10 minutes and pushed their lead to 26 with a Kylee Blacksten 3 in the final two minutes.
"I actually thought USF did a good job of dictating the tempo in the first half," Payne added. "I thought they slowed us down in the half-court, which made us hesitant. Then they were disruptive in a different sort of way. Not pressuring and denying everything, but our team responded in the second half because our offense helps our defense and our defense also helps our offense. I think when we have good flow and good tenacity on both ends, we're a better team when we're like that."
USF got to within 13 points, 56-43, in the waning moments of the third quarter. Colorado then ripped off a 10-2 run to extend its lead to 66-45, effectively putting the game out of reach for San Fransico. The Buffs were 4-for-6 shooting in the run with a pair of free throws, while holding USF to 0-for-6 from the field with three turnovers.
Colorado breaks for the holiday, returning to practice on Sunday, Dec. 26. CU's will open Pac-12 play on the road, heading to Oregon State on New Year's Eve.
"I want these guys to rest a little bit and really refocus and come back," Payne said about the break. "I think everyone is really dialed into what we want to accomplish and what we need to do, individually and collectively to have the type of success we're looking for. It's [the break] going to be great. If anybody's earned it, it's these guys."
CU improved to 22-10 in December in the Payne era…The team is 8-0 at home this season…USF's bench outscored CU's for the first time this season (41-35)…CU now has six wins of 20+ this season…CU outrebounded USF by 14 (39-25)…Monday was the sixth game CU did not face a deficit in this season…Miller snagged a season-high eight rebounds…Hollingshed moved into 13th all-time in scoring (1,406), passing Jenny Roulier…Her four 3FGM set a season-high…Wetta entered the day 10th in the NCAA in assist-turnover ratio (3.10) and added four assists and zero turnovers (now 3.50).