Rebounding doesn't come natural to the Colorado women's basketball team.

The Buffaloes were relentless on the glass on Friday night, however, and it played a big role in them in earning their first Pac-12 win of the season, 65-56 against Arizona at the Coors Events Center.

Kennedy Leonard had 20 points and nine assists and the Buffs (11-3, 1-2 Pac-12) dominated the boards to snap a three-game losing streak.

"Any time you get a win, it's an exciting deal," Leonard said. "We're getting better with each game."

They certainly got better in rebounding, holding a 46-35 advantage over the Wildcats (9-5, 0-3). The Buffs turned 18 offensive rebounds into 13 second-chance points and limited Arizona to five second-chance points on only nine offensive boards.

"As a team, we want to establish that as our identity," said Makenzie Ellis, who had eight points and five rebounds. "We knew this team scores a lot on second-chance opportunities and we knew we had to box out and keep them off the glass and limit those second opportunities.

"The team as a whole did a great job of getting on the glass really hard."

CU's best rebounder, Haley Smith, finished with nine boards and 12 points. Guard Ariana Freeman came off the bench to tie her career high with eight rebounds in only 13 minutes. In all, 10 different Buffs had rebounds and eight of them had at least three.

Offensively, the Buffs weren't stellar, making just 37.1 percent of their shots, but they had timely runs that kept them in the lead from start to finish.


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Alexis Robinson, who had 12 points on the night, scored the first eight points of the game to spark an 11-0 run out of the gates. The Buffs also had a 7-0 surge to start the second quarter and a 10-0 run to open the fourth.

"It's a momentum swing, coming out and being ready, especially in the beginning of the first quarter," Leonard said. "We always talk about hitting them first and punching them first. The fact that we could do that in more than just one quarter probably says a lot about us."

Arizona sliced CU's lead to just four, 44-40, going into the final quarter.

In the first few minutes of the quarter, however, Leonard had four points and two assists in the run that opened up a game-high 14-point lead.

Arizona pulled within six in the final minutes, but the Buffs held on to secure head coach JR Payne's first conference win at CU.

"It wasn't beautiful, but it doesn't have to be beautiful," Payne said. "It doesn't have to be pretty to be able to execute down the stretch and do the things that we needed to do to be successful."

Notable

CU improved to 15-4 all-time against Arizona, including 9-1 at home. The Buffs are also 9-1 against the Wildcats since joining the Pac-12. Leonard went 0-for-5 from 3-point range and is now 0-for-13 from the beyond the arc in Pac-12 play. CU held an opponent below 60 points for the seventh time this season. The Buffs had 10 steals and have reached double digits in that category in 13 of 14 games. Arizona's LaBrittney Jones became the 19th player in Wildcats history to reach the 1,000-point mark for her career, and now has 1,003.

Contact staff writer Brian Howell at howellb@dailycamera.com or twitter.com/BrianHowell33.