What went right: Colorado did just about everything right, shooting 47.8 percent, out-rebounding the Bears 41-37 and playing exceptional defense most of the day to cruise to a win.
What went wrong: Too many turnovers (21) allowed Cal to close the first quarter on a 13-5 run and keep the game relatively close most of the first half.
Star of the game: Kennedy Leonard and Jamee Swan. Tough to pick just one, as Leonard notched career highs in points (23) and assists (13) and Swan added 18 points and 12 rebounds in her final home game. It's the first time since Dec. 5, 2014, that CU has had two players record double-doubles in the same game.
What's next: The Buffs visit Washington State on Thursday.
Emotions got the best of Jamee Swan, the lone senior on the Colorado women's basketball team, as she was honored before Sunday's game against California.
As she hugged her little brother, Ryan, who is an Air Force Academy cadet she hasn't seen in several months, tears filled her eyes.
"After that, I got in the huddle and Kennedy (Leonard) and Lauren Huggins were like, 'All right, now quit you're crying; we've got to go out and win a game,'" Swan said. "That made me laugh and that kind of brought me back into everything."
It's been a disappointing season in many respects for the Buffaloes, but on Sunday at Coors Events Center, they brushed all of it aside and, led by Swan, Leonard and Haley Smith, pounded Cal, 78-57, in perhaps their most complete performance of the season.
"It feels amazing," said Swan, who had 18 points, 12 rebounds, six steals and four blocks in her final game at CEC. "It's hard to put into words. It's nice to get a win, but on senior night, it's even better."
CU (7-20, 2-14 Pac-12) snapped a five-game losing streak and defeated Cal (12-15, 3-13) for the first time since joining the Pac-12. The Bears had won nine in a row against the Buffs.
In addition to Swan, Smith had a team-high 24 points to tie her career high, the Buffs made 47.8 percent of their shots and they finished with their highest point total since a 90-66 rout of Northern Arizona on Dec. 9.
"Everybody did their job; everybody executed their role," Buffs head coach Linda Lappe said. "We obviously had some great individual performances, but I loved how our team played together, I loved how hard they played."
And, while this day was really about Swan — who will leave among the program's all-time leaders in points, rebounds and blocks — Leonard had one heck of a supporting role.
The lithe freshman point guard notched career highs in points (23) and assists (13), recording just the 17th points-assists double-double in CU history (a list that includes four triple-doubles). Her assist total is the fourth-best in CU history, and only two off of the single-game record.
Leonard also joined Bridget Turner (1985-89) as the only Buffs to score at least 20 points and notch at least 10 assists in the same game.
"I just felt good today," Leonard said. "Before the game, I was feeling good and hitting shots. Then, my teammates were giving me the ball and telling me to shoot and keep shooting."
Leonard has struggled with her shooting all year (34.0 percent coming into Sunday), but was 9-for-18 against the Bears, including 4-for-7 from 3-point range.
"Everybody has bumps in the road," she said. "I think finally today it was a breakthrough and I think that's really good."
On Friday night, after a 31-point loss to Stanford, it was Leonard who said the team lacked the passion to win and that it needed to change for Sunday. She led that charge from the start.
"Overall, a great floor game by a freshman point guard who is really starting to grow up and mature," Lappe said.
Growing up and maturing has been the theme of Swan's career. On Sunday, in front of a season-best crowd of 3,919, Swan put that on display one last time in one of her best performances of the season.
When it was over, a few more of the tears returned as she talked about how well her team fought to get a win they desperately needed.
"They showed how much they cared for, one, the game; two, the university; three, the team; and then, me last, four," Swan said. "They cared so much about today and it's just great to see that.
"Great basketball is always fun to watch."
Cal's sensational freshman, Kristine Anigwe, had 30 points and 11 rebounds, scoring 18 points in the first quarter. ... Smith made 11 of 18 shots. ... Swan's double-double was her fourth of the season and 14th of her career, tying Tera Bjorklund for 11th in CU history. ... Swan became the seventh player in CU history with at least 1,200 points and 750 rebounds for her career. She has 1,218 points (19th) and 751 rebounds (eighth). ... CU led by 23 at one point, by far its biggest lead in any conference game.
Colorado 78, California 57
At Coors Events Center
CAL (12-15, 3-13 Pac-12)
Cowling 4-7 2-5 12, Range 2-13 3-6 8, Anigwe 9-18 12-15 30, Thomas 0-4 0-0 0, Green 0-6 0-0 0, Davidson 2-3 0-0 5, Mosley 1-3 0-0 2. Totals 18-54 17-26 57.
COLORADO (7-20, 2-14)
Ellis 4-7 0-0 8, Smith 11-18 0-0 24, Swan 6-16 6-8 18, Robinson 1-4 0-0 3, Leonard 9-18 1-2 23, Watts 0-0 0-0 0, Thomas 0-2 0-0 0, Correal 0-0 0-0 0, Huggins 0-0 0-0 0, Beard-Fails 1-2 0-1 2. Totals 32-67 7-11 78.
Score by quarters:California 24 7 9 17 — 57 Colorado 22 20 17 19 — 78
3-point field goals — Cal 4-11 (Cowling 2-2, Davison 1-1, Range 1-6, Thomas 0-1, Green 0-1), CU 7-18 (Leonard 4-7, Smith 2-6, Robinson 1-3, Ellis 0-1, Thomas 0-1). Rebounds — Cal 37 (Anigwe 11), CU 41 (Swan 12). Assists — Cal 11 (Green 4), CU 21 (Leonard 13). Turnovers — Cal 24, CU 21.Total fouls — Cal 13, CU 23.Fouled out — Robinson, Correal.A — 3,919.