Buffs Blast Golden Bears
BERKELEY, Calif. – Colorado started its four-game road trip with a 73-56 win over California inside Haas Pavilion on Friday night. The Buffaloes used a 25-point third-quarter t help solidify the victory.
Peanut Tuitele and Lesila Finau stood out in front of their friends and family. Tuitele, from nearby Chico, Calif., scored 11 of her 15 points in the second half helping Colorado outscored the Golden Bears 40-27 in the final 20 minutes. Finau, from Dublin, Calif., had 11 points and tied her season-high with three steals.
"I think it was the same thing last year," Finau said about playing in front of her friends and family. "It's always nice to perform well in front of family. I guess show out a little and give them a little entertainment. I do kind of have a chip on my shoulder from Cal not recruiting me."
Fifth-year senior Mya Hollingshed closed the night with 14 points and seven rebounds but didn't play the entire second quarter because of her two fouls.
Colorado (16-6, 5-6 Pac-12) forced 23 Cal turnovers and outscored the home team 25-1 in points off turnovers. CU finished the game +11 in turnover margin with only 12 against. The Buffs outshot Cal 49.1% to 38.6% and made 11 more field goals.
"I'm very pleased with tonight," head coach JR Payne stated. "A coach always loves a total team effort and we had that tonight. We had to adjust a little with foul trouble and every player scored and almost every player had a rebound. It was just a great team effort. I thought we kind of flexed on them in the second half defensively and then executed well against some zone defense that we haven't seen a lot of this year.
California (10-7, 1-5 Pac-12) was led by its star freshman, Jayda Curry. The Buffs limited Curry's production to 16 points on the night, a number shy of her Pac-12 leading 19.8 points per game. Curry didn't hit a field goal until the third quarter and got eight of her 16 points from the free-throw line.
"Coach J [Payne] told us at the start of the game that she's the number one scorer in the Pac-12," Finau explained. "That's impressive as a freshman, but we thought our defense could bother her a little bit. She had found a way to score all season, but not as much tonight."
How It Happened: Colorado pounced on the Golden Bears to start the night. The Buffs got started with a 6-0 run and forced two early turnovers, forcing Cal into an early timeout. The Buffs got six points from Hollingshed in a little more than six minutes of play in the quarter, helping CU build an 11-2 lead. Cal chipped away to get back within four points, 15-11, before 3 from Finau closed out a 5-0 run to take a 20-11 lead.
The Buffs sat Hollingshed and Tameiya Sadler for the entire second quarter, with both players sitting on two fouls. Jaylyn Sherrod saw all of 20 seconds of action in the second quarter, also with two fouls, but the Buffs bench picked up the slack. All 13 of CU's second-quarter points came from the reserve, helping keep the CU lead intact.
"Our depth really showed tonight," Payne said of the playing rotations. "Those guys all had four trouble and people stepped up. It's nice for those players to have fresh legs in the second half. That doesn't happen very often. I said 'Mya you better be out there running like a gazelle,' but it was really neat for everyone to step up and contribute."
The Buffs were strong defensively in the first half, especially on Curry. She was 0-for-5 from the field but did a good job fighting to get points from the free-throw line. Curry went 8-for-9 in the first half and the Golden Bears were 10-for-11 as a team in the second quarter.
CU's lead hit nine twice in the second frame, but Cal closed on a 7-2 run, all from the free-throw line, to get within four at the break.
Curry opened the second half with her first field goal coming at the 8:36 mark of the third quarter. She drained a 3-pointer to cut the Buffs' lead to 33-32, but that was as close as the Golden Bears would get the rest of the night. Colorado never conceded the lead, responding with a 9-2 run capped off by a Frida Formann 3 to grow the lead to 42-34.
A second 3 from Formann sparked a 7-0 run that put the Buffs back in front by 10, 49-39. The Buffs scored the final nine points of the quarter, staking claim to a 16-point lead (58-42) to close the third.
"We made a concerted effort to try to be more aggressive," Payne noted. "It feels like we are doing that at every halftime. We should be doing that from the opening tip. The foul count was so off [in the first half] that we just felt like we needed to be more aggressive, and I think that was a lot of our scoring in the third quarter."
Colorado's lead never dipped below 11 in the fourth quarter as the Buffs shot 6-for-12 in the period to thwart any kind of Cal comeback.
Turning Point: Colorado led 49-42 when Sherrod stepped to the free-throw line with 1:35 to play in the third quarter. She hit both attempts to put the Buffs ahead by nine, 41-42. Colorado then scored seven points in 59 seconds to take the commanding 16-point lead into the fourth quarter.
Up Next: Colorado continues on the road with a rematch at No. 2 Stanford on Sunday (1 p.m. MT, Pac-12 Networks).
Notes: CU improves to 5-3 on the road this season…Friday was the 14th time this season Colorado has forced 20+ turnovers…The Buffs are 11-3 when forcing 20+ turnovers this season…The Buffs have now won five straight against Cal, improving to 12-12 all-time…CU's 28 FGM was the most since 29 against San Francisco (Dec. 12, 2021)…Friday was the seventh time Colorado had not trailed in a game this season…CU outscored Cal 40-24 in the paint and 24-5 off the bench…CU's 25 points in the third quarter tied its best quarter of the season (third, vs Dixie State).