Strong Second Half Propels Buffs to Victory
BOULDER – Colorado scored 48 points in the second half to pull away from Jackson State, 77-53, in the first game of the Preseason WNIT at the CU Events Center on Saturday.
Colorado improved to 2-0 in the early season and has held both opponents to 55 points or less to start the season.
Junior Frida Formann totaled 15 of her game-high 17 points in the second half, helping the Buffaloes expand their six-point halftime lead. Colorado's lead grew to 26 in the fourth quarter to keep the visiting Tigers far from striking distance.
"I'm just really proud of how we played," head coach JR Payne explained. "This is a difficult game for us. We don't see that style of play. There is a multitude of athletes on the floor at once and I was really proud of how we responded. We really competed in the areas that we wanted to compete in. I think that's a really good basketball team. I think Jackson State is going to win a ton of games. They should be a tournament team again, they're very good. I think that we played really well and responded to a really good team coming into Boulder."
Sophomore Aaronette Vonleh reached double figures for the first time in her CU career, totaling 13 points on the afternoon. Senior Quay Miller had the hot hand early, totaling 11 of her 13 points in the first half. Freshman Jada Wynn shot 3-for-4 from the field and made two 3-pointers, contributing 10 points and five rebounds.
"I think everyone's really confident in each other," Payne expressed. "We know that Nettie [Aaronette] can score inside. We know Frida can score outside. We also know Quay, Tameiya [Sadler], Tay [Jones], Jaylyn [Sherrod], Kindyll [Wetta] and everyone that is playing can bring something positive, offensively and defensively, to the floor."
Jackson State held a 45-38 advantage on the glass, with Daphane White leading the Tigers with 12 points and nine rebounds. They limited the Tigers to just three assists on their 16 field goals. JSU coughed the ball up 20 times, helping CU total 20 points off the mishaps.
"We wanted to pressure, we wanted to try to create some turnovers," Payne continued. "We felt like we could do that. I think we communicated well, defensively. I thought there were some different actions that we hadn't necessarily seen that we had to guard, but I thought our communication was on point. We were a defensive team. We'd love to play defense. I think we did that well tonight."
How it Happened
The Buffs held Jackson State to a 2-for-8 start to the game but couldn't separate from JSU in the opening quarter. Miller accounted for seven of CU's 13 first-quarter points and the Buffs held a two-point advantage after the first period.
Jackson State opened the second quarter with a 3-pointer to take a 14-13 lead, but Jalyn Sherrod hit back-to-back 3's to put CU back up 19-16. The latter of the two helped CU put together an 11-0 run that put Colorado in front 27-16.
The Tigers used a 5-0 run of their own to close the first half and slim the CU lead to 29-23 at the break.
Colorado got the lead back to eight with Vonleh getting to the basket to start the third quarter. She went 4-for-4 in the quarter, totaling eight points. Formann also totaled eight points in the third to help the Buffs outscore the Tigers 24-13 in the frame. The Black and Gold shot 52.9% (9-17) in the frame and hit 4-of-6 shots from behind the arc while limiting the Tigers' offense to 5-for-14 shooting.
"I think my teammates do a good job of making me feel more comfortable," Vonleh said of her assimilation. "I'm usually in with Quay, so I find me and her have a good connection. Being able to work inside out with her is helpful too."
The Buffs bat down the hatches in the fourth quarter. Colorado held JSU to a 0-for-4 start to the quarter and persisted the rest of the frame as the Tigers closed just 2-for-11 down the stretch.
Formann and Tayanna Jones each had seven points in the final quarter.
Colorado finished the day with 10 3's from six different players. CU's 10 3's marked the most since hitting 11 at California on Feb. 7, 2021.
"I think we have a lot of good pieces on the floor," Formann said. "I think we've improved our shooting from our guard spots. That just opens up the floor so much more. When our posts run the floor in transition that's when we get those easy shots. There's a lot of things team-wise that make the shots much easier."
Jackson State used a 5-0 run to get within eight, 40-32, with 4:31 to play in the third quarter. Wynn and Wetta combined for back-to-back 3's that started a 13-4 close to the third quarter and the Buffs' lead never dipped below 11 the remainder of the day.
Colorado will hit the road for the first time in 2022-23 as it continued with the WNIT. The Buffaloes will take on Louisiana on Tuesday and Texas Tech on Wednesday in Lubbock, Texas.
The win on Saturday was career win No. 96 for Coach Payne at CU and No. 197 in her career…CU's two wins this season have both been by 20+ points…It's the first time CU has had back-to-back 20+ wins since a stretch of four games last year (Dixie State, Southern Utah, SMU, San Francisco)…CU has shot over 50% in the second half of both games this season (78.3% vs NM State and 51.4% vs JSU)…The Buffs have had 19 assists in each of their first two games this season…Sherrod had five assists and now has 315 in her career (17th CU).
On the message at halftime, to pour it on in the second half
"We just had to stick to what we know we can do and what we practice. Kind of just go out and keep the same intensity that we had in the first half, but turn it up. Just make it more difficult for them."
On if getting into the passing lanes led to all of the steals
"I think we prepared by just loading up on the help side and playing team defense. That got them out of what they were doing, so we could pick off those passes. Yeah, it was a team defense mentality."