CU women's basketball preview: Washington State
MATCHUP: Washington State Cougars (9-4, 0-2 Pac-12) at Colorado Buffaloes (5-7, 0-1 Pac-12).
GAME TIME: Monday, 8 p.m. at Coors Events Center in Boulder.
BROADCAST: Radio — KKZN (760 AM). TV — Pac-12 Network.
COACHES: Colorado — Linda Lappe, sixth year (103-76; 153-112 career); Washington State — June Daugherty, ninth year (99-164; 413-378 career).
LEADERS: Colorado — Scoring: F Jamee Swan, Sr., 15.3 ppg; Rebounding: Swan, 7.8 rpg; Assists: G Kennedy Leonard, Fr., 5.3 apg. Washington State — Scoring: F Borislava Hristova, Fr., 18.3 ppg; Rebounding: C Maria Kostourkova, Fr., 4.7 rpg; Assists: G Dawnyelle Awa, Sr., 2.9 apg.
NOTABLE: CU is 4-4 all-time against Washington State, 3-3 since joining the Pac-12. The teams split their two meetings last year. ... The Buffs are looking to avoid a third 0-2 start in five years since joining the Pac-12. They started 0-4 last year. ... After Hristova, nobody at WSU is averaging more than 7.2 points per game.
Still in the opening weekend of Pac-12 play, the Colorado women's basketball team is facing a bit of a must-win.
On Monday, the Buffaloes (5-7, 0-1 Pac-12) host Washington State (9-4, 0-2) and will try to avoid getting swept at home.
"A win Monday is something we need," freshman Kennedy Leonard said after Saturday's 76-74 loss to Washington. "We have to go break even at 1-1."
To do that, the Buffs are hoping to carry momentum from Saturday's second half. In that game, the Buffs erased a 19-point deficit, took a five-point lead early in the fourth quarter and then missed two shots in the closing seconds that could have won or tied the game.
They are hoping their performance in the second half is more indicative of the type of team they can be going forward.
"I was a little surprised (about the slow start)," freshman Alexis Robinson said. "I think it had to do with a lot of nerves and the first game in the conference. Second half, we had already pushed the first half aside and came out and did what we could."
Lappe said the Buffs were too tentative in the first half against Washington and "it just seemed like we felt the pressure was on us, and the pressure is not on us."
There might be a little more pressure on the Buffs on Monday, though.
Washington State is one of the few teams picked to finish behind the Buffs this year in the Pac-12, and the Cougars are already off to a tough start.
After Monday, the Buffs face three consecutive games against ranked teams - No. 19 California, No. 11 Stanford and No. 17 Arizona State - on the road. That puts some added importance on Monday's contest.
"It is important; just to play well, to play not being so tentative and being aggressive," Lappe said. "What we saw in the second half (against Washington) was focused, smart, together, aggressive. That's what we have to expect.
"Monday's game is important. We want to start to protect our home floor and we didn't protect our home floor (Saturday) and it's something we want to do from here on out."
Brian Howell: email@example.com, on Twitter: @BrianHowell33.