Strong Second Half Helps Colorado Breeze Past Washington
BOULDER – Big second-half performances from junior Quay Miller and fifth-year senior Mya Hollingshed led Colorado to a dominant 66-43 win over Washington at the CU Events Center on Sunday.
The Buffaloes used 43 second-half points to drown Washington's hopes. Miller, playing against her former teammates, posted 18 points on 7-of-11 shooting, while Hollingshed led all players with 20 points and a season-high four assists.
The win broke a CU's three-game home losing streak and improves the Buffaloes to 15-6 overall and 4-6 in the Pac-12 Conference.
"This is how we play," Miller compared Sunday to the team's recent woes. "It wasn't like this was never us. This is how we play basketball. It feels good to get back to doing what we're doing and to be able to carry this through our next games."
The Buffs had their most efficient shooting performance of the conference season, hitting 46.4% from the field (26-56). Colorado hit more field goals (18) in the second half of Sunday's win than all of Friday night (16). The Buffs, who hit six 3-points, did most of the damage from inside 12 feet of the basket. CU outscored UW 40-14 in the point, marking the Buffs' best performance down low since Southern Utah (44). Colorado also forced 21 UW turnovers, directly resulting in 24 points.
"I am really proud of how we played tonight," head coach JR Payne expressed. "We played really good basketball. I mean really good basketball. We defended. We competed. We executed. We kept our cool and we made game adjustments. These guys made huge adjustments in the second half just based on how the game was being called. There was incredible effort from so many people, physically, emotionally and mentally. I think these guys played great and I'm just excited about how we played.
"Obviously, we want to win every game," Payne continued."But it's more just how we played. It was great basketball tonight."
Washington (5-11, 0-8 Pac-12) was led by Nancy Mulkey's 16 points. The Buffs defense handcuffed the Huskies, holding UW to 15-for-42 (35.7%) from the field. The UW bench struggled to contribute, getting outdone 27-14 by the Buffs.
How It Happened: The first half was a dead heat with both teams posting near-identical numbers.
Washington led 15-13 after the first quarter but the Buffs used a 10-8 second quarter to get back to even. The Buffs held UW to 7-for-20 in the first 20 minutes but only shot 8-for-25 on the offensive side.
Miller led the Buffs with six points in her seven first-half minutes. CU's bench had 15 of CU's 23 points in the opening half. UW's Haley Van Dyke also had six points and nine rebounds.
Hollingshed gave the Buffs a 25-23 lead in the first possession out of half and Mulkey answered back to tie the game up. That was as close as Washington would get to a lead the rest of the day.
CU used an 8-0 run, with the help of back-to-back 3's from Hollingshed to take control of the contest. The Buffs outscored Washington 20-13 in the third quarter and twice extended the lead to 10. Hollingshed, who only had three points in the first half, totaled 10 in the frame. As a team the Buffs shot 50% (8-16) from the floor, posting 12 points in the paint.
"We talked about the fact that we were taking a ton of jump shots in the first half and that we really wanted to be more aggressive," Payne said of her team's adjustments. "We wanted paint touches and think every single player that played in the second half got them. Whether it was a dribble penetration or cut and that was great execution. Being able to hear a game plan and say 'okay, that's what we're going to do.' It's the sign of a mature group."
The Buffs poured it on in the fourth quarter, outscoring the Huskies 23-7. Miller netted eight of her 18 points in the period and Hollingshed added another seven to her line.
Colorado's defense kept the ball out of UW's hands, forcing seven turnovers in the final 10 minutes. The Buffs outscored Washington 11-0 off turnovers, only coughing the ball up once in the quarter.
"We had a meeting yesterday before we watched film and talked about some areas that are our team's strengths are and turnovers were one of them," Payne explained. "Forcing turnovers, but collectively as a group, we decided that we needed to do a better job of doing something with those turnovers. It's great to steal the ball, but you have to do something with it. We have to get it, come down, and score. We have to get a great possession. I thought we did a much better job of that tonight. It is exciting to steal the ball it's even more exciting to do something with it and put points on the board from it."
The Buffs used an 18-2 run in the final 6:53 to close the afternoon. CU hit seven of its last eight shots held Washington scoreless in the last three minutes.
"We want to come down and get a stop and come down and play good basketball like Coach J talked about—just keep the game under control and not force anything," Hollingshed noted. "In the first half, we were out of sorts, trying to figure out how they were trying to guard us. In the second half, we took what they gave us and didn't do too much thinking. We just ran our game."
Turning Point: Hollingshed's back-to-back 3-pointers early in the third quarter followed by a Lesila Finau layup helped the Buffs go from tied at 25 to a 33-25 lead. The Buffs increased the run to 12-4 and ate up close to six minutes in the third quarter, building the lead to 37-29.
Up Next: The Buffs will be on the road for their next four contests. CU heads out to northern California next week, starting at California (Feb. 11). CU will have a rematch with No. 2 Stanford next Sunday (Feb. 13) to close the first leg of the trip.
Notes: CU improves to 11-3 at home this season…CU held UW to two FGM in the second quarter, matching the fewest FGM by a Pac-12 opponent since No. 2 Stanford's 2-7 first quarter (Jan. 14, 2022)…The 23 point win was CU's seventh of the season…Washington's 20 second-half points were the fewest allowed in a half since SMU's 20 (2H) on Dec. 17….Washington's 43 points are the fewest allowed by CU this season (45 at Oklahoma State) and the fewest since No. 11 Arizona's 38 (Feb. 23, 2020)…Hollingshed's 20 points marked her 18th career game with 20+ points…Hollingshed's four 3's tied her season-best and ties her with Amy Palmer for 10th in 3FGM made at CU (149).
On playing her former team
"It always feels good to have a good game, but especially against the program I just left. I definitely [feels good]."
On handing out assists
"I like giving it [the ball] to my teammates, especially down low in the post because we work hard. I think we deserve to battle down there and try to get some points. It also puts the defense at a disadvantage, calling a foul. We always try to be aggressive in that aspect. Our low posts were a lot better than they were."