Refocused Colorado Set to Host WSU on Friday
BOULDER – Just eight games remain on the schedule for JR Payne and the Colorado women's basketball team. The Buffaloes will host Washington State on Friday (7 p.m. MT), marking the first of its final four contests at the CU Events Center.
Colorado began the season 10-0 at home and has since dropped the last two to No. 2 Stanford and Utah. The Buffs' final push to the finish will rely heavily on the team's ability to defend the home court.
"We want to win every single game no matter what," Payne explained. "We didn't get to play 18 league games to this point. We've played eight so we're exactly halfway through league [play]. We're going to make sure that we're doing everything that we're in control of to have a positive outcome for every single game."
Colorado notably started 13-0 this season and was the last undefeated DI men's or women's team standing. But the Buffs' 13-0 record was compiled mostly in the non-conference season. CU won its first two Pac-12 games, sweeping USC and UCLA for the first time in school history and started 2-0 in conference play for the first time in the Pac-12.
As of late, Colorado has just one win in their last six games. The Buffs battled through a four-game road swing that saw the team lose in back-to-back overtime games at Oregon State and Arizona State. The trip ended with a tough 75-56 defeat at Arizona that pushed CU out of the top-25 for the first time in two weeks.
The Buffs have averaged 58.6 points per game in its five losses, a number that is nine points below its season average of 67.7. Colorado has only hit 35.6% (101-284) from the field in the five losses.
"I think the biggest thing is that we have been prioritizing what we are in control of," Payne said about the team's struggles through adversity. "We're not in control of who we play or where we play but we are in control of the details, our executing and effort. We're pouring into executing and knowing our plays. Those types of things. We have worried less about our opponents and more about making sure that we're handling our business."
The Buffs responded nicely in Utah, holding the Utes to a season-low in points on the way to a 66-62 overtime win. But then took another step backward in the return home, with a 78-67 loss to the same Utah squad.
"I was pretty disappointed with how we played Sunday [against Utah]," Payne admitted. "I didn't think that was our best game. Utah's a really good team, but when I rewatched the film. I thought that our effort was not where it needed to be. There are not too many times in six years [at CU] that I could say our effort wasn't where it needed to be.
"I think our team has done a great job of not pointing fingers," Payne continued. "Which a lot of times teams can do when they face adversity. But instead, growing our communication and spending time together to really understand what do you need from me? That type of thing."
The message has spread loud and clear throughout the team.
"I think the really good teams know how to just stay at one level and not let anything affect them," freshman Kindyll Wetta added. "I think the good teams know how to stay emotionally level. When you're on a 13-0 winning streak you don't think you're ever going to lose. Then when you do, it's very hard. Losing multiple games after that is even harder. We are going through some of that adversity now and every team has to go through that. I know we can make it through and that we're going to come out better for it."
After this weekend, the Buffs head off on a second four-game road trip. The Buffs will head off to Cal (Feb. 11) and Stanford (Feb. 13) and then make their way back to the Golden State to face UCLA (Feb. 18) and Southern California (Feb. 20).
"Every game is another opportunity to either start a new winning streak, get the team chemistry or just to grow as a team," Wetta noted. "Every game is equally exciting and presents a new opportunity for our team."
CU will return home to close the season against Oregon (Feb. 23) and Oregon State (Feb. 26).
Thad Anderson and former Buff Kami Carmann-Snyder will have the Pac-12 Network call on Friday. Cory Lopez and CU Hall of Famer Shelley Sheetz will be on the Colorado Radio Network starting with pregame at 6:30.