Buffs Upset No. 25 Ducks in Double OT Thriller
BOULDER – It took every bit of 50 minutes for the Colorado Buffaloes to upset No. 25 Oregon on Wednesday night at the CU Events Center. The Buffs won the race to the finish, closing out the double-overtime victory with a 86-83 triumph.
The Buffs led by 14 points in the fourth quarter, before Oregon came back to tie the game at 72 at the end of regulation. The game remained tied at 80 at the end of the first extra period, forcing CU to play its first double OT game since 2014.
"I'm really proud of our effort and togetherness," head coach JR Payne opened with after the win. "We stuck together the entire game. When things were really going great, we stuck together. When things were not going great, the most beautiful thing about it was these [players] that held us together in timeouts and huddles. There wasn't even a lot that I needed to say as far as what we needed to focus on or what our priority should be. These [players] took control of that with great leadership and so much heart on so many plays."
The win for Colorado was its 19th of the season and its first against a ranked opponent since upsetting No. 1 Stanford last season. It also snapped a six-game losing streak to the Ducks. The team improves to 8-7 in Pac-12 play with one game left before the conference tournament in Las Vegas.
Junior Jaylyn Sherrod led Colorado with 17 points and matched her season-high of eight assists. Senior Lesila Finau contributed a career-high 15 points, hitting three key 3-pointers along the way. Fifth-year senior Mya Hollingshed recorded her eighth double-double of the season, going for 15 points and 10 rebounds before fouling out late in the fourth quarter. Junior Quay Miller rounded out CU's top scorers with 11 of the Buffs' 26 points off the bench.
Oregon (18-10. 10-6 Pac-12) had three players in double figures, led by Endyia Rogers' game-high of 28. Nyara Sabally finished with 22 points and 11 rebounds, while Ahlise Hurst went 4-for-9 from 3-point range to close with 12 points.
How it happened: Colorado's largest lead of the night came with 8:12 to play in the fourth quarter. A Hollingshed 3-pointer put the Buffs in control 55-41 and CU looked to be on its way to a top-25 victory.
Oregon had other plans, outscoring CU 31-17 in the remainder of the quarter. Colorado went scoreless in the final 2:45 of the fourth and was unable to get a shot off in the final seconds for a chance to win the game in regulation.
"It was 3-point shots and free throws," Payne said of the fourth quarter. "We're going to look at it and see that we were giving up uncontested 3's because we weren't matched up. They [Oregon] are a really good shooting team. They can go 1-for-10 and then hit their next 10 in a row. They also got to the free-throw line a ton down the stretch of the game during that run. We need to look at that because we did not make the adjustments we needed in a quick amount of time to stop the bleeding."
Hurst held lead the Ducks' charge with three of UO's five 3's in the quarter. Saballay went 4-for-5 from the field and 5-for-5 at the free-throw line for 13 of Oregon's 34 points. Colorado couldn't capitalize at the free-throw line late in regulation, going 9-of-16 in the period.
"I remember mentioning that as soon as it hit overtime that it was 00 and [that we needed] to come out from the break and just do what we do," Finau recalled. "We had to stay composed and defend. Especially because we knew how important this game was, and we managed to do that."
Both teams had chances to win at the end of the OT. Tied at 80 the Buffs put the ball in the hands of Tameyia Sadler, but her drive to the basket was denied. The Ducks got the rebound with 1.3 to go and called a timeout to advance the ball across halfcourt. Oregon called upon Rogers again who missed a deep 3 at the buzzer.
Tuitele and Miller opened the second OT with back-to-back baskets to give CU the four-point advantage. Then the defense kicked in.
Oregon started 0-for-4 shooting to open the final period. Rogers scored UO's first basket of the OT with 44 seconds to go and then Sabally made 1-of-2 at the line to cut the CU lead to 84-83 with four seconds to play.
The Buffs called a timeout and inbounded the ball to Sherrod in the backcourt, who sprinted through the Ducks' defense before getting fouled inside the final second of play. She drilled her two free throws to close the night and the win.
"We were in the huddle and talked about how we've been in this position so many times," Sherrod noted. "We've been on the other side so many times. It was important for us to learn from the Oregon State's, and the Arizona State's and put together a winning effort at the end. I think we give great effort every night, but we've been on the other side with not getting the victory. I think we just focused in and we knew the experience of being in that position so many times, what it would be like, and what we needed to do to finish the game out."
Key Stat: CU's post duo of Miller and Tuitele combined for 12 of Colorado's 14 points in the two overtimes. The pair went a combined 4-for-5 from the field and 3-for-4 from the free-throw line.
Up Next: Colorado will conclude the regular season against Oregon State on Saturday. It will be the team's Senior Day. The Buffs will honor returning graduate Annika Jank and Aubrey Knight in a pregame ceremony. Finau, Tuitele and Hollingshed will be honored after the contest.
Game Notes: First double OT win since CU's 87-81 win against Colorado State (Nov. 29, 2014)…CU's 86 points marked the most in a Pac-12 Conference game and the most in a conference game since hitting 95 against Nebraska (Feb. 6, 2002)…It was CU's first win over Oregon since Feb. 19, 2017 (76-66)…Colorado held Oregon to 0-for-7 from 3 in the first quarter and 2-for-14 in the first half…Oregon's 34 fourth-quarter points were the most allowed by CU since Denver 32 -point third quarter (Dec. 8, 2020)…Colorado led for 37:02…The game featured six lead changes and seven ties.
Hollingshed Notes: Hollingshed set a new career-high in season scoring with 375 points this season…She's also got a new career-high with 138 career field goals made…Her double-double was the 24th of her career, moving her into sixth all-time at CU…Her 10 rebounds give her 867 for her career and are tied with Sandy Bean (1978-82) for sixth all-time...She's now two points shy of tying Erin Scholz (1993-97) for eight on CU's scoring list with 1619 career points.
Head Coach JR Payne
On the team's confidence
"Everyone on our team is really confident right now in their ability to contribute. It's not 'I'm going to go for 20 tonight.' They know when their number is called. They're confident and ready. That 3-pointer Quay [Miller] hit in the corner was absolutely huge. When Jaylyn penetrates and [Nyara] Sabally comes over and Peanut [Tuitele] cuts down the lane and finishes at the rim. [Lesila's] transition leak-outs. There were so many really important baskets. In overtime, we're confident and prepared. When their number is called, they're ready."
On sticking together
"I would have rather won it by 15 going away. I always say these games provide you with an opportunity to really see who you are. I know we have a bunch of really great young women on our team. I know we play hard. I know we're tough. We're fearless, but who are we when our back is really against the wall and it's a must-win and things aren't going well. We haven't been in that situation in a while. Are we going to splinter or are we going to separate? What I saw was all 15 players, all the coaches and all the staff poured into each other and brought each other together, which is everything you want to see at this point in the season and going into more tough games in the coming weeks."
On the significance of beating Oregon
"Oregon is a great team historically. They're a great Pac-12 team. We of course love to beat them. They have a very high NET. That's going to help our NET. As I always say, we want to go 1-0 on game day. We did today. It took a while, but we did it. We'll rest, recover, and get ready for Oregon State and try to do it again Saturday."