CU women's basketball preview: Washingon State

MATCHUP: Colorado Buffaloes (7-20, 2-14 Pac-12) at Washington State Cougars (13-14, 4-12).

GAME TIME: Thursday, 8 p.m. MST, at Beasley Coliseum in Pullman, Wash.

BROADCAST: Radio — KKZN (760 AM). TV — None (online at Pac-12 Digital).

COACHES: Colorado — Linda Lappe, sixth year (105-89; 155-125 career); Washington State — June Daugherty, ninth year (103-174; 417-388 career).

LEADERS: Colorado — Scoring: F Jamee Swan, Sr., 14.1 ppg; Rebounding: Swan, 7.0 rpg; Assists: G Kennedy Leonard, Fr., 4.6 apg. Washington State — Scoring: F Borislava Hristova, Fr., 16.1 ppg; Rebounding: F Mariah Cooks, Sr., 4.4 rpg; Assists - G Dawnyelle Awa, Sr., 3.0 apg.

NOTABLE: CU is seeking its first two-game win streak since starting the season 2-0 in mid-November. ... On Sunday, CU snapped a five-game skid with a 78-57 win against California, while Washington State snapped a nine-game skid with a 62-61 win at Arizona. ... The Buffs are 0-11 on the road this season, while Washington State is 6-5 at home. ... Wazzu leads the all-time series, 5-4, and the Buffs are 1-3 in Pullman.

Despite a season that has not gone according to plan, the Colorado women's basketball team heads into the final week of the regular season with its eyes looking forward.

"We're definitely more about pushing forward and not looking back," sophomore guard Brecca Thomas said.


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On Thursday night, the Buffs (7-20, 2-14 Pac-12) visit Washington State (13-14, 4-12) and then travel to Washington (18-9, 9-7) for the regular-season finale on Saturday.

For a team that's currently staring at the No. 12 seed for next week's Pac-12 tournament, this week presents an opportunity to play spoiler and gain some positive momentum.

"Going into this weekend, it's going to be a pretty fun thing, more than anything," Thomas said. "It definitely fuels us being an underdog."

CU opened conference play in early January with home losses to the Washington schools, and that kick-started a 0-9 start to the Pac-12 schedule. Those losses were followed by a 29-point loss at Cal, a team the Buffs beat 78-57 on Sunday in Boulder.

"It showed in the Cal game how much we've grown," Thomas said. "We've taken huge leaps, and I think it's definitely going to show against Washington and Washington State, being that our past games on our floor (in January), we were still not as acclimated to each other, with not as much chemistry."

Whether the Buffs can duplicate the effort they had against Cal remains to be seen. They did, after all, lose five in a row before Sunday. Head coach Linda Lappe, however, believes her team is much better than it was several weeks ago.

Defensively, Lappe said. the Buffs are getting stops at a better clip, and offensively the improvement has been more dramatic.

"We were having a really tough time scoring (in January)," she said. "Being able to hit the open player and get good shots and understand what shots we want, we're starting to really understand that."

This week is a big one for the Buffs to show just how far they've come since January.

"We played both of these teams at the very start of conference, so this is a good barometer for us," Lappe said. "You get to see how much you've improved."

Perhaps their biggest improvement comes from finding their sense of purpose. They had it on Sunday against Cal, and Thomas hopes they have it from this point forward.

"We're more so about reaching our potential toward the end of the season," she said. "When we do reach our potential, you're going to get the result you want.

"It's going to be really fun to see what the outcome is going to be in the next couple of weeks, but I think everyone is looking forward to it."

Brian Howell: howellb@dailycamera.com, on Twitter: @BrianHowell33.