Colorado women's basketball coach JR Payne showed up to her postgame press conference Sunday soaking wet and joked, "Nothing will make me angry today."

Icy Gatorade showers aren't only for championships.

Payne deserved this one after her Buffaloes played arguably their most complete game of the season and knocked off visiting Southern California, 81-76, on Sunday at CU Events Center, snapping an 11-game losing streak.

"It felt great," freshman point guard Sila Finau said. "I had a feeling when I woke up that we were going to win today."

The Buffs (11-12, 1-11 Pac-12) coughed up a 14-point lead in the fourth quarter, but made crucial plays in the final minute to defeat the Trojans (14-9, 4-8), who were fresh off an upset of No. 17 Utah on Friday.

Mya Hollingshed had a team-high 21 points to lead the Buffs, including four free throws in the final 67 seconds.

CU was on the verge of a total collapse after USC's 16-2 run quickly erased the Buffs' 14-point lead, tying the game at 74-74 with 1:28 to play.

The Buffs found one last gear, however. Hollingshed hit her free throws, Alexis Robinson (16 points) hit a dagger 3-pointer with 32 seconds left and Peanut Tuitele snagged critical rebounds in the final minute.

"You have to play smart," Hollingshed said of the Buffs' final minute. "We have to stay together, stick together. We got together in our huddle and said, 'Be smart, protect the ball and we're going to finish this game.'"


CU had struggled finishing games in Pac-12 play. In fact, just a week ago the Buffs weren't even in the game. A 102-43 loss at Oregon was the program's worst defeat in 35 years and the low point for a team that is still trying to find its way without senior point guard Kennedy Leonard — who missed her ninth consecutive game with a foot injury on Sunday.

Payne, her coaching staff and the players picked themselves up off the deck in a hurry after the Oregon loss, however, and nearly won both games over the weekend. They played well in a 64-60 loss to UCLA on Friday.

"I thought we had a great weekend of basketball and I thought we had a great week of practice," Payne said. "A lot of teams that have been through the adversity that we have in the past couple of months would have kind of splintered and gone their own way or turned on each other. This group remains really close, really hard working and I love that about this group."

The Buffs' bond was on display against USC, with their best brand of team basketball in weeks.

In addition to Hollingshed and Robinson, Finau played her best game as a Buff, with 14 points and just one turnover; Tuitele had 11 rebounds; Quinessa Caylao-Do tied her career high with six assists and scored all seven of her points in the fourth. Off the bench, Emma Clarke and Annika Jank combined for 17 points and 11 rebounds, while Mathilde Diop played well defensively.

Colorado’s Mya Hollingshed, right, is covered by the Southern California’s Kayla Overbeck in the first quarter on Sunday. Hollingshed had a
Colorado's Mya Hollingshed, right, is covered by the Southern California's Kayla Overbeck in the first quarter on Sunday. Hollingshed had a team-high 21 points and seven rebounds in the win. (Lewis Geyer / Staff Photographer)

The collective effort led to a much-needed victory — and Payne's Gatorade shower.

"I feel like we've been knocking on the door so many times," Payne said. "I'm mostly excitedly for these guys, to be able to celebrate, to be able to reap the reward of all their hard work tonight. We'll just continue to work hard."


Finau's previous-best point total was 11. She had averaged 5.6 point and 4.8 turnovers in the previous five games. ... Clarke (10 points) scored in double figures for the first time in Pac-12 play. She had eight points in the previous four games combined.

Colorado 81, USC 76

USC (14-9, 4-8 Pac-12)

Mi. Moore 6-16 7-9 19, Ma. Moore 6-12 7-10 22, Tapley 5-7 2-2 14, Mazyck 3-9 0-0 7, Overbeck 3-4 0-0 6, Caldwell 0-1 0-0 0, Aaron 3-8 0-1 8, Jones 0-3 0-0 0. Totals 26-60 16-22 76.

COLORADO (11-12, 1-11)

Caylao-Do 3-12 0-0 7, Robinson 6-15 1-3 16, Finau 4-6 4-6 14, Hollingshed 7-16 4-4 21, Tuitele 1-2 0-1 2, Diop 1-2 0-0 2, Clarke 4-5 0-0 10, Jank 3-6 1-2 7, Voldy 1-2 0-0 2. Totals 30-66 10-16 81.

USC 26 12 20 18 - 76

Colorado 29 14 19 19 - 81

3-point goals - USC 8-23 (Ma. Moore 3-7, Aaron 2-6, Tapley 2-4, Mazyck 1-4, Mi. Moore 0-2), Colorado 11-26 (Robinson 3-8, Hollingshed 3-6, Finau 2-3, Clarke 2-2, Caylao-Do 1-5, Jank 0-2). Rebounds - USC 32 (Ma. Moore 7), Colorado 44 (Tuitele 11). Assists - USC 13 (Ma. Moore 5), Colorado 14 (Caylao-Do 6). Steals - USC 4 (Ma. Moore 2), Colorado 7 (Robinson 2). Turnovers - USC 14, Colorado 12. Total fouls - USC 19, Colorado 19. Fouled out - None. A - 2,215.

Contact staff writer Brian Howell at or