What went right: The Buffs scored 17 points off 17 Oregon turnovers and drained 10 3-pointers on the night.
What went wrong: As a team, shooting was a struggle for the Buffs, while they gave up too many open looks to Oregon.
Star of the game: Kennedy Leonard. The sophomore had 21 points, seven assists and six rebounds.
What's next: The Buffs take on No. 11 Oregon State on Sunday in Corvallis, Ore.
EUGENE, Ore. — Finishing games continues to be a problem for the Colorado women's basketball team.
Despite a big night from sophomore point guard Kennedy Leonard, the Buffaloes were knocked off by Oregon, 71-66, on Friday night at Matthew Knight Arena.
Leonard finished with 21 points, seven assists and six rebounds, but the Buffs (11-7, 1-6 Pac-12) were off the mark with their shooting in losing their fourth in a row.
As a team, the Buffs made just 35.8 percent of their shots (24 of 67) and hit just half of their free throws (eight of 16). Oregon (13-6, 3-4) connected on 46.6 percent of its shots (27 of 58).
"We just need to continue to focus on execution," head coach JR Payne said. "We don't have any real margin for error in missing layups, missing free throws, not executing a play that's been called. It's just the little things. I think our effort and tenacity and heart gives us an opportunity to compete with these teams in this conference. But our lack of execution in very small spurts makes it hard to win that way."
Makenzie Ellis had 12 points for the Buffs before fouling out and Haley Smith scored 10 points, but hit just three of her 12 shots.
The Buffs battled through their shooting woes to remain competitive throughout the night. Defense and 3-pointers kept the Buffs in it.
CU scored 17 points off of 17 Oregon turnovers. The Buffs had 12 steals, four of those by Alexis Robinson.
The Buffs also drained 10 3-pointers, including four from Makenzie Ellis, tying her career high.
CU pulled within 61-59 on an Ellis 3-pointer with 3 minutes, 41 seconds to play, but Oregon responded with a 5-0 spurt and CU could never regain the lead.
The Buffs had a strong start to the game, and took their biggest lead, 31-23, late in the first half. The Ducks closed the half on a 6-0 run, but CU led 31-29 at intermission.
It was the third game in a row that the Buffs led at the half, and the third game in a row that they coughed up the lead in the third quarter.
An 11-0 Oregon run in the third quarter gave the Ducks a 44-36 lead, and they never trailed again.
"Some of it comes down to depth, some of it comes down to second-half adjustments," Payne said. "The last thing I said coming out of the locker room is, 'They're going into (Ruthy) Hebard. Get ready for it.' And she scored nine of their first 11 points of the second half. We knew it; it's a matter of going out and doing something about it. She's hard to guard and hard to stop and hard to keep off the glass. But that's the area we have to be able to dig our heels in and get rebounds and stops when we need to."
Hebard finished with 19 points and 11 rebounds for the Ducks, while Maite Cazorla had 14 points and six assists.
The Buffs have lost three in a row to Oregon. ... Smith has struggled with her shooting the past four games, going 14-for-53 (26.4 percent). ... Leonard has played all 40 minutes in three consecutive games. She had done that just once in her first 45 career games. ... Leonard had her 13th career 20-plus point game, including her ninth this year. ... CU has been outscored in the third quarter in eight consecutive games.
Oregon 71, Colorado 66
COLORADO (11-7, 1-6 Pac-12)
Ellis 4-9 0-0 12, Robinson 3-10 0-2 7, Leonard 7-15 5-7 21, Correal 2-2 0-0 4, Smith 3-12 2-4 10, Caylao-Do 0-1 0-0 0, Watts 0-0 0-0 0, Freeman 2-8 0-0 4, Thomas 0-0 0-0 0, Burich 0-1 0-0 0, Beard-Fails 3-9 1-3 8. Totals 24-67 8-16 66.
OREGON (13-6, 3-4)
Cazorla 6-13 2-2 14, Bando 2-9 0-0 5, Ionescu 1-6 5-6 8, Hebard 7-13 5-10 19, McGwire 4-5 0-0 8, Yaeger 0-1 0-0 0, Hall 1-2 0-0 2, Vandenberg 4-6 1-2 9, Gildon 1-1 0-0 2, Campisano 1-2 2-2 4. Totals 27-58 15-22 71.
3-point goals - CU 10-29 (Ellis 4-8, Leonard 2-9, Smith 2-4, Robinson 1-4, Beard-Fails 1-2, Caylao-Do 0-1, Burich 0-1), Oregon 2-12 (Bando 1-3, Ionescu 1-3, Cazorla 0-4, Yaeger 0-1, Hall 0-1). Rebounds - CU 36 (Leonard 6), Oregon 40 (Hebard 11). Assists - CU 14 (Leonard 7), Oregon 20 (Cazorla, Ionescu 6). Turnovers - CU 13, Oregon 17. Total fouls - CU 25, Oregon 20. Fouled out - Ellis, Beard-Fails. A - 2,260.