Buffs Pick up 20th Win of the Season on Senior Day
BOULDER – The Colorado women's basketball team secured its first 20-win season since 2012-13 with its 60-45 win over Oregon State on Senior Day on Saturday. The Buffaloes' win combined with Utah's loss moves Colorado up to the fifth seed in next week's Pac-12 Tournament.
Colorado finishes the regular season with a 20-7 overall record and 9-7 in the Pac-12, its best conference mark since 2012-13 (13-5).
The Buffs led the Beavers for all but five minutes on Sunday, growing the lead out to 19 in the fourth quarter. Sophomore Frida Formann hit three first-half 3-pointers and tied her season-high with 15 points to lead the Buffs in scoring. Fifth-year senior Mya Hollingshed finished off her home career with 13 points and moved past Erin Scholz (1993-97) for eight on CU's all-time scoring list.
"It was never in doubt [reaching 20 games]," head coach JR Payne said about her team's win. "It was never in doubt because of these guys right here [Mya Hollingshed, Peanut Tuitele, Lesila Finau]. They've been everything to this program for the past four years. It hasn't ever been easy. It hasn't ever been smooth sailing, but these guys have committed to being great Buffs and have done whatever their team needed them to do. They've been incredible examples to all of us in what a Buff should look like. I'm very proud of how we played tonight and just excited that we had a chance to honor these guys in front of Buff Nation."
Peanut Tuitele contributed eight points and six rebounds in her final game at the CU Events Center. Lesila Finau finished with three points, five rebounds and three steals to cap her Senior Day.
"It's incredibly special [to win on Senior Day]," Tuitele explained. "[This group] has never swept the Oregon's so to get this sweep is really special – especially on Senior Day. It means the world to me because our team bought in and worked hard for our seniors. We also worked hard for them. It's incredibly special that this happened today."
CU's defense forced 20 turnovers for the 15th time this season and totaled 17 points off the Beaver mistakes. Oregon State outscored Colorado 19-18 in the second half but made just 30.4% (7-23) from the field in the final 20 minutes.
Oregon State (13-12, 6-9 Pac) was led by Ellie Mack and her 10 points off the bench.
How it happened: Hollingshed scored CU's first four points, opening 2-for-2 in the first two minutes of the afternoon. The Beavers were able to contain the Buffs early on, claiming a 12-6 lead and holding CU to 0-for-5 after the quick start.
The Buffs turned things around midway through the first quarter, starting with a Tayanna Jones 3-pointer to end CU's shooting woes. Formann added five more points to help CU go on a 10-2 run and a 16-14 lead. The Buffs outscored Oregon State 16-4 in the final 5:44 of the period to take a 22-16 lead after 10 minutes of play.
OSU got the early jump on the Buffs to start the second quarter, using a 9-2 run to cut retake a 25-24 lead.
Lesila Finau hit her first 3 of the day to put the Buffs back up 27-25 and Formann shot back with another 3 to extend the lead to 30-25. The Buffs turned the back-to-back 3's into a 15-0 run, extending the lead to 14. OSU had one free-throw make to cut the run, but Formann hit her third 3 of the day to propel the Buffs to an 18-1 finish and a 42-26 lead at the break.
"We came out and played Colorado basketball," Finau commented. "We're very defensive-minded. I think we stepped it up from the second quarter on. I'm just really proud of my team and glad we came out with a win."
The Buffs' lead dipped to nine, 43-34, at the start of the third quarter. Colorado opened the frame 0-for-9 from the floor before a steal and layup from Jaylyn Sherrod put an end to the drought. The Buffs finished the third 4-for-7 and held the Beavers just one free throw in the final 4:20 of the quarter.
CU scored the first six points of the fourth quarter to gain a commanding 57-38 lead. Colorado locked down the Beavers' offense in the final 10 minutes, holding OSU to 0-for-11 start the period. The Buffs held Oregon State off the scoreboard for nearly nine minutes in the quarter. The Beavers' first points wouldn't come until a Greta Kampschroeder free throw at the 1:34 mark.
"I think it's really important we're playing this way going into March," Hollingshed added. "When you're not playing your best basketball, you don't know where you stand. I think we are realizing we are the only team that can stop us down the stretch."
Turning Point: The Buffs hit six of their seven 3's in the first half on Sunday, with four coming in the 18-1 close the second quarter. Finau's 3 jump-started things for CU, giving the Buffs a 27-25 lead. Formann and Hollingshed added one with two straight 3's to get the Buffs lead to 33-25. Formann added a second 3 to finish off the run, giving the Buffs the 16-point lead at the half.
Up Next: Colorado will be the fifth seed in the Pac-12 Tournament and will play 12th seeded Washington in Wednesday's first round (1 p.m. MT, Pac-12 Network). The winner will move on to face No. 4 Arizona on Thursday (1 p.m. MT).
Game Notes: First weekend sweep of the Oregon schools since the 2012-13 season…It's CU's first win against Oregon State since Mar. 6, 2015, breaking an 11-game losing streak…CU's 16-point lead at the half is its largest halftime lead in Pac-12 play...CU's 22 points in the first quarter matched its best opening quarter of the season (Dec. 7 at Southern Utah)…The 42 points in the first half were the team's most in Pac-12 play this season (37 at UCLA).
Hollingshed Notes: Hollingshed passes Erin Scholz (1621) for eight in scoring now with 1634…She also passed Sandy Bean (867) for sixth in career rebounding now with 875 for her career…She played in her 137th career game, increasing her school record…Also moved past Erin Scholz (606) in field goals made now with 610…Tied Kennedy Leonard (156) in 3-points field goals made.
Head Coach JR Payne
On Senior Day
"I don't know that I've ever cried on Senior Day until today. Not because we haven't had really special seniors in the past, just we've been through a lot together. This is hard. What we do is really hard, emotionally, physically, mentally. I think when you go through many years of difficulty you know, not that there aren't great things as well but it just hits a little bit different. I was very proud and continue to be very proud of these guys. I just remember our first recruiting conversations, four and five and six years ago, where we talked about building a legacy and building a championship program and that it's not just basketball, it's so much bigger than basketball. If you want to build something that will last and all of these guys have bought into that and believe in that and have done that, made a commitment to do something about it and that is what makes it so special."
On Aubrey Knight and Annika Jank being honored before the game
"Those two sacrificed just as much as these guys and poured their heart and soul into this program as well. In their own way on the court, off the court in the locker room, those two, and their impact is also going to be felt in being tremendous examples of selflessness and being great teammates. What does it look like to be a great teammate? I don't know if you could find any better examples than those two. It was really special for us to be able to bring Annika back, even though she graduated last year because all of these guys love her just as much as we do. It's just great to be able to celebrate them on this day."
"It wasn't hard to stay focused. Our coaches made that clear before the game to limit distractions and just focus on our goal of winning the game. We could let our emotions show after the game. I think we did a good job of that."
On CU winning five of last six
"I think it's very important because we're playing our best basketball and we're playing together. It's super important going into the postseason. It's March and everyone knows what March is all about. I'm super happy that we're playing our strengths together and our basketball."