Buffs Complete Sweep of LA Schools
LOS ANGELES – Head coach JR Payne's Colorado women's basketball team completed its first-ever road-sweep of UCLA and USC after a 67-54 victory over USC Sunday afternoon at the Galen Center.
Colorado has now won four of their last five, including three on the road, and has now beaten USC for the second time this season. The Buffs record improves to 18-7 with a 7-7 mark in Pac-12 play while the Trojans fall to 11-14 and 4-11 in Pac-12 competition.
The Buffs led for all but four minutes in this one and an 8-0 run at the end of the first quarter set the foundation. Colorado continued to add to its lead and defend USC well, forcing them to shoot just 30% from the field and go just 1-for-12 from behind the arc. In the fourth, the Buffs led by as many as 20 and held off the Trojans the rest of the way.
"Our team was really focused for this game," Payne enthused. "Even though it was a short turnaround, we were ready and I think that's a testament to our team knowing how important it is to be prepared."
In an overall balanced effort from the women in black and gold, Colorado shot an impressive 47% from the field and their bench outscored USC's 27-11. Colorado also had every player that stepped on the floor score for the second straight game.
"Everybody scored. That's huge," said Payne. "The teams in this conference are too good to beat with just one or two players playing well. We need everyone to be confident and ready to contribute, and we had that today."
Rayah Marshall led the Trojans with 13 points followed by Jordyn Jenkins with 12.
How it happened
In a back-and-forth first quarter, the Trojans were the ones to score first off a layup by Jenkins. Colorado senior Peanut Tuitele stormed right back and hit a jumper from the left wing to make it 2-2. Later in the period, the Buffs held an 11-8 advantage with just over four minutes to go, thanks to five straight points from Miller including a corner 3-pointer off a cross-court pass by Hollingshed.
The Trojans scored three quick points out of the media timeout and took over 12-11 midway through the first. But the lead didn't last long, as Hollingshed and Tuitele responded with back-to-back 3's and Lesila Finau sank a driving layup at the shot-clock buzzer to end the quarter on an 8-0 run and give Colorado a 19-12 lead.
After a layup by Finau, USC made two layups to tighten the CU lead to 21-16. Colorado then got rolling. The Buffs began to get out in transition and put together a 7-2 surge capped off by a transition layup from Tayanna Jones. Finau tacked on two of her own on the run and Miller contributed with a jab-step three from the top of the arc as the Buffs led 28-16 with five minutes to go in the first half.
"Our defense is always what gets our offense going," said Freshman guard Kindyll Wetta. "After [USC's Jordyn] Jenkins got going in the first quarter, we had some key defensive possessions where we locked up and didn't let them score. Then we were able to get out in transition and turned that defense into offense."
USC regrouped after a timeout though and scored five unanswered to cut Colorado's lead to 28-23 with under three minutes to go. The Buffs bounced back, with Wetta nailing a left-wing 3 and Hollingshed knocking down a pair of free throws and a layup to help the Buffs hold a 35-27 advantage at intermission.
The Buffs came out of the gates hot and Hollingshed drilled a 3 less than 20 seconds into the second half. Both sides exchanged buckets until Hollingshed and Jaylyn Sherrod hit two layups in a row as the Buffs led 44-33 with five minutes to go in the third.
Colorado struggled from the field, going without a field goal for almost three minutes in the middle of the third. Then the Buffs got the spark they needed with Tameiya Sadler driving to the bucket and drawing a foul. Sadler made the free throw, and on the ensuing Trojan possession, Wetta came up with a takeaway and Tuitele drew a foul and sank two from the charity stripe. Now leading 50-36, Colorado finished the quarter with two free throws from Hollingshed and a tip-in layup from Wetta to give the Buffs their largest lead of the afternoon thus far, 54-38 into the final period of play.
CU kept its foot in on the gas in the final frame, extending its lead to as many as 20 points with under five to play after a jumper from Miller. USC would not go away without a fight, as Tera Reed and Bella Perkins led an 8-0 run for the Trojans to cut Colorado's lead to 12, 64-52 with just under three minutes to go. The Buffs' stifling defense did not allow USC to get any closer though, and Colorado exited the building with their 18th win of the year.
"We're really excited to come home," explained Payne. "When you're on the road for two weeks, it's a long time. We're excited to have our fans back. I really hope Buff nation will come out and support us because we are playing great basketball and these are the last games for our seniors at home. I think we should do everything we can to get a huge crowd at both games next week and send them out of the [CU] Events Center in style."
Up Next: The Buffs will get set for a midweek matchup when they welcome the Oregon Ducks to Boulder Wednesday night at 7 p.m. at the CU Events Center (Pac-12 Networks).
Notes: Buffs have now won their last three against USC, the team's longest streak in the series…First regular-season sweep over USC…CU's 18 wins is the most since the team's 19 in the 2013-14 season…CU now has four Pac-12 wins on the road, the most since its six in 2012-13…Second consecutive games with a 67-54 outcome…USC's 11 turnovers match the fewest the Buffs have forced this season (at Arizona)...Hollingshed moved into 9th on CU's scoring list passing Jamillah Lang and Bridget Turner…Hollingshed was +23 on the afternoon, her highest rating in Pac-12 play this season….Held USC to under 30% shooting in the first three quarters.
Head Coach JR Payne
On battling through the ups and down in a season
"Every team goes through ups and downs. Sometimes it translates to more wins or losses, but every team goes through that a little bit. It's all about how your veterans handle those ups and downs and I think our team was very self reflective about, 'What can 'I' do better?' In this day and age, sometimes that's hard for people to do. A lot of people point fingers and our team chose not to do that. I think that's a huge part of our ability to turn it around. "Everybody said, "Okay, I can do better here, and I can do better there.' I think when we bought into that is when we really started playing well again, and I do think we're playing good basketball right now."