Shortly after the Navy women's basketball team had drained another 3-pointer to cut into the Colorado lead in the closing minutes Sunday, the Buffaloes went on the move.
Senior Kennedy Leonard looked up the court and found freshman Peanut Tuitele under the basket, tossed her the ball and watched as Tuitele scored a pivotal layup to extend the lead.
It was a key bucket during the Buffs' 59-43 victory at CU Events Center and a significant milestone in Leonard's career.
The dish to Tuitele was the 600th career assist for Leonard, making her just the second player in school history to hit that mark. She inches closer to Bridget Turner's record of 612.
"Six hundred is a lot," Leonard said. "It's cool. It's a (milestone), so to be able to do that is cool for me and for my teammates. That assist record isn't because of me; it's because they make shots. They made 600 shots. I'm thankful for them every day."
Leonard had nine assists and nine points and Tuitele had a game-high 15 points as the Buffs (8-1) won their second in a row, knocking off the visiting Midshipmen (4-4). Mya Hollingshed added 11 points and 11 rebounds, posting her second consecutive double-double for the Buffs.
Led by Leonard, Tuitele and junior Quinessa Caylao-Do, who scored 10 of her 11 points in the first half, the Buffs opened up a 21-point lead at intermission and led by as many as 25 early in the third quarter.
"It's always fun when you get ahead and you're able to pull that lead further and further," Leonard said.
Navy made a run, though, cutting the deficit to 51-41 on a 3-pointer by Darryl Langford with 4:05 to play. CU was able to pull away down the stretch, however.
"Tale of two halves again," CU head coach JR Payne said. "We shot the ball better (than in previous games), but the rebounding was something I did not expect. I know they're a tough, tenacious team, but I found an area pretty quickly that we need to get better and that's rebounding."
Navy out-rebounded the Buffs 41-38 and pulled down 23 offensive boards. The Midshipmen struggled with their shooting all afternoon, though, and had just six second-chance points. They shot 23.7 percent from the floor against the Buffs.
"As we continue throughout our preseason, we continually find areas that we're doing well and areas we need to improve and today was no different," Payne said. "But a good win against a very good basketball team that won 25 games last year."
Payne was able to enjoy yet another win for her team, but also take some time to appreciate Leonard, who also recently hit the 1,500-point mark for her career. Leonard currently sits at 1,523 points (11th in CU history), 601 assists (second), 215 steals (10th) and ranks among leaders in field goals, 3-pointers and free throws.
"You can look throughout our record book and Kennedy's name is scattered in the top five, the top 10 of pretty much every statistical category," Payne said. "Ken is one of the best players to ever wear a Buffalo uniform, so the assist numbers are great. We love, she loves it when she can give out dimes to people and it's going to be exciting when she finally passes (Turner's mark).
"Kennedy is the hardest working basketball player I've ever coached and I've coached a lot of really good basketball players. It's hours and hours of work when no one was watching, and that's how you're able to scatter your name throughout the record books, and that's pretty special."
Colorado 59, Navy 43
Jaunich 2-8 0-0 4, Taylor 1-8 0-0 2, Coleman 3-10 2-4 8, Gatzounas 2-6 0-0 5, Roach 0-3 5-6 5, Swanda 0-1 2-4 2, Langford 1-6 0-4 3, Green 3-9 2-2 10, Bishop 1-5 0-0 2, Ulasewicz 1-3 0-0 2. Totals 14-59, 11-20 43.
Tuitele 7-10 1-4 15, Caylao-Do 3-6 4-5 11, Robinson 1-7 0-0 2, Leonard 2-3 4-6 9, Hollingshed 4-12 2-2 11, Swartz 1-2 0-0 3, Clarke 0-1 0-0 0, Jank 2-8 2-2 6, Diop 1-1 0-0 2, Carter 0-1 0-0 0, Finau 0-0 0-0 0, Volcy 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 21-51 13-19 59.
Navy 6 8 13 16 - 43
Colorado 17 18 13 11 - 59
3-point goals - Navy 4-19 (Green 2-6, Langford 1-3, Gatzounas 1-1, Taylor 0-4, Roach 0-2, Coleman 0-2, Ulasewicz 0-1); Colorado 4-12 (Caylao-Do 1-2, Swartz 1-2, Leonard 1-1, Hollingshed 1-1, Robinson 0-3, Jank 0-2, Clarke 0-1). Rebounds - Navy 41 (Jaunich 7), Colorado 38 (Hollingshed 11). Assists - Navy 8 (Jaunich, Coleman, Green 2), Colorado 13 (Leonard 9). Steals - Navy 8 (Green 2), Colorado 8 (Leonard 4). Turnovers - Navy 17, Colorado 18. Total fouls - Navy 17, Colorado 17. A - 1,668.