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Buffs Continue to Roll

Jan 9, 2022

BOULDER – Colorado continues to rack up the wins, picking up a 71-63 victory over UCLA on Sunday. The Buffaloes victory broke a 10-game losing streak to the Bruins and marked CU's first-weekend sweep of USC and UCLA.

"I just told the team I'm really proud of them," head coach JR Payne said after the win. "I think every team is going through some adversity or another. We're no different. To come out and sweep our opening weekend in the Pac-12, on a short turnaround, when our opponent had a lot of time to prepare for us. We had a very short amount of time to prepare for a great team like UCLA. [That] just shows a lot of resilience. A lot of togetherness, a lot of cohesion and I'm super proud of our ballclub."

Junior Jaylyn Sherrod scored a career-high 25 points, helping the Buffs improve to 13-0. She also handed out a game-high eight assists for the second straight contest. Sherrod was just 5-for-12 from the field but did her damage from the free-throw line, picking up career-highs in makes (13) and attempts (17). 

The Buffs, who trailed after the first quarter for the first time this season, had to shake off a slow start on the way to their first 2-0 conference start since the 2006-07 season.  

"I very much like to stay in the moment as far as our team and what we're doing," Payne continued. "That's why I use the phrase 'we just want to go 1-0 on game day.' So whoever we play on that day, I want to beat them and that's it."

Offensively, Colorado made just 19 field goals, its second-lowest total of the season. Sophomore Frida Formann put in 14 points, with the aid of three 3-pointers. Mya Hollingshed was largely held in check by the Bruins but still fought her way to 10 points and seven rebounds. 

UCLA (5-4) was led by Natalie Chou's 15 points. Sunday's game for the Bruins marked their first since Dec.11. 

How it happened
Neither showcased a spectacular display of basketball to start. 

The Buffs opened 0-for-9 from the field while the Bruins held a 5-0 lead, hitting 2-for-8 to open. Colorado finally broke the drought with a Kylee Blacksten layup at the 3:26 mark of the quarter, getting the Buffs offense something to build on.    

UCLA's early advantage grew to 12-5, marking CU's largest deficit of the season. The Buffs finished the quarter with a 5-0, battling back to within two (12-10). 

"We talked about it [slow start] in one of our early timeouts," Payne recalled. "I thought we got good looks at the basket early. We had layups, close looks, shots we normally make, but they just weren't falling. I said, 'Well, the great thing is it's 2-0. Even though we're not scoring, we're still guarding. So, make sure that we continue to guard and continue to work defensively until our shots start falling.'"

Peanut Tuitele continued CU's run at the start of the second, converting a jumper to tie the game at 12. The Buffs' run grew to 12-0 with contributions from Sherrod, Tayanna Jones and Quay Miller, giving the CU a 17-12 lead two minutes in the quarter. A Formann 3 gave CU its largest lead of the half, 21-15, but UCLA answered back with a 6-0 run to tie the game at 21 with under four minutes to go. 

Late 3's from Tuitele and Sherrod helped CU finish the half with a 28-25 lead, despite shooting just 28.6 percent (8-28)

The intensity picked up a few notches in the third quarter with CU and UCLA trading blows out of the break. The Buffs momentarily relinquished the lead in the final minutes of the third quarter and neither team led by more than six points. 

Sherrod took the game into her hands in the third, totaling 10 points in the frame. The Buffs forced a huge momentum swing at the end of the third quarter that got started with a Kindyll Wetta steal on a UCLA inbound pass from underneath its basket. The turnover resulted in an open Formann 3-pointer to close the third quarter, giving CU its largest lead of the period (47-41). 

Formann put the Buffs up eight, 49-41, on CU's first possession of the fourth quarter, but the Bruins cut it back to within four by the eight-minute mark. 

"I think our intensity was really good the whole game," Formann noted. "Down the stretch, those shots just matter a little more. It feels great to make them. I think we had great execution. I think that's something we struggled with in the past. To see us today, we have just been solid and we just went to the right players. Jaylyn was great through the whole game."

Formann's biggest 3-pointer of the day came late in the fourth quarter. Coach Payne called a timeout with UCLA on a quick 4-0 run, cutting CU's lead to four. Formann drilled the 3 out of the break and put the Buffs up seven, 59-52, with 2:36 to go.  

Hollingshed added a 3 of her own with 1:56 on the clock to give CU the 62-53 lead. The Buffs finished 7-for-8 from the free-throw line down the stretch to close out the CU's first win over UCLA since 2014. 

"We had to knock down free throws," Sherrod added. "Peanut [Tuitele] knocked down good free throws. Frida came out and hit a big shot. I think we just locked in on the game plan and did what we were supposed to do. We really didn't change anything with the closeness of the game. We stuck to the game plan."

Turning Point
CU's ability to shake off the poor start was key to its success on Sunday. The Buffs were held scoreless for almost seven minutes to start the day. CU shot 43.2 percent (19-for-44) following the 0-for-9 start and outscored UCLA 69-58. 

The Buffs remain at home next week, hosting Stanford and California. The Cardinal will be in town to open the weekend on Friday (7 p.m. MT) with the Bears closing out the week on Sunday (Noon MT). Both games will be on the Pac-12 Networks. 

CU is now 13-0 for just the second time in program history (15-0 in 1992-93)…The Buffs have now won six consecutive Pac-12 games dating back to 2020-21…The win is just CU's second of the season under 10 points (+5 at Air Force)…UCLA's 63 points are the most allowed by the Buffs this season…Sherrod is the first player to hit 25 points for the Buffs since Hollingshed had 28 at Washington State (2/19/21)…Sherrod had 16 assists on the weekend to go with 40 points and just two turnovers…Hollingshed hit two 3's to give her 132 for her career, one back of Lauren Huggins for 13th all-time…She also played 36 minutes to move into 13th all-time (3,307), passing Diane Hiemstra and Alexis Robinson.

Sherrod on career-high

"I honestly think it is about locking in. I practice [free throws] every day. I will come before practice or stay after practice. I think it just shows resilience because I was struggling. I mean you could see my frustration at the beginning of the season. But now with more trusting and keep pushing."

Sherrod on assists
"The assists mean a lot. I think I have always been more of a pass-first type point guard anyway and always love setting up my teammates. I mean it's always nice to get a good pass and last game Frida got the basket and I think I was the most hype. I think it's just setting up your teammates. I have a lot of good pieces, so you have to feed them. You have to put them in the best position to score. That is just the game plan and the importance of a team in general."