What went right: The Buffs rebounded well and kept themselves engaged on both ends of the floor throughout the afternoon to give themselves a shot at the win.
What went wrong: CU - like anybody else that plays Washington - couldn't slow down the tandem of Kelsey Plum and Chantel Osahor. Plum, the nation's leading scorer, finished with 28, while Osahor had 20 points and 16 rebounds.
Star of the game: Makenzie Ellis. The sophomore forward had a career-high 18 points for the Buffs, with nine of those coming in the fourth quarter. She also had six rebounds and a block.
What's next: CU will visit No. 8 Stanford on Friday.
On paper, the Colorado women's basketball team seemed like no match for 10th-ranked Washington.
On the court, the Buffaloes gave the Huskies all they could handle.
CU was exceptional in the second half on Sunday to give itself a shot at the upset before falling to the Huskies, 79-75, at Coors Events Center.
"I'm just really proud of the way that we played and the heart that we played with," CU head coach JR Payne said. "We're a team that never backs down and we never give in."
Kennedy Leonard and Alexis Robinson each scored 19 points and Makenzie Ellis added a career-high 18 as the Buffs (13-10, 3-9 Pac-12) once again showed their fight. Not many opponents can match the talent of Washington (22-3, 10-2), however.
Kelsey Plum, who leads the country in scoring, finished with 28 points for the Huskies. Chantel Osahor, who leads the country in rebounding, finished with 20 points and 16 boards.
Plum finished below her season average of 31 points, but the Buffs were still in awe of the senior.
"She's the toughest guard I've ever faced in my life," Robinson said. "She can score in any type of way. It's pretty extraordinary."
Considering the performances of Plum and Osahor — as well as guard Aarion McDonald, who had 14 points — it was rather extraordinary that CU was in position to pull off the upset.
After falling behind 54-37 with 4 minutes to play in the third, the Buffs went on an 11-0 run to pull within six. They cut the deficit to four, 65-61, with 6 minutes to play.
"This team just has a great spark in them and they have a fight and a heart," Ellis said. "I think that we have the ability to compete with these teams. These last two games, we've just pulled it out of us and have been able to compete and bring these games closer and closer."
It was back-to-back Ellis buckets that cut the deficit to four, but moments later, CU senior Haley Smith fouled out. The Buffs played the final 6:08 without their most consistent all-around player, who finished with 11 rebounds and seven points.
"I think it hurts a lot because Haley is so much more than a rebounder for us," Payne said. "She does a lot for us, so it would have been nice to have her down the stretch, but everyone that came in ... really gave tremendous effort."
That effort helped the Buffs outscore the Huskies 38-24 during the final 14 minutes and, despite the loss, come away with a measure of confidence.
"This is showing that we can compete with any team out there," Robinson said. "(In previous games), we could put the first two quarters together and now we're starting to put the last two together. So, eventually I think we'll put all four together. We're on the right track."
Washington has been one of the Pac-12's top rebounding teams, but CU held a 41-39 advantage on the glass. ... CU is 0-8 against the Huskies during Plum's career. ... Leonard added six rebounds, six assists and five steals. ... The Buffs matched their season low with seven turnovers. It was the fifth time this season they had less than 10.
Brian Howell: firstname.lastname@example.org, on Twitter: @BrianHowell33.
No. 10 Washington 79, CU 75
Collier 3-6 5-8 11, Osahor 6-10 6-9 20, McDonald 5-8 2-4 14, Plum 11-24 3-4 28, Romeo 2-5 0-0 6, Johnson 0-1 0-0 0, Corral 0-2 0-0 0, Totals 27-56 16-25 79.Colorado (13-10)
Ellis 7-19 2-2 18, Correal 1-2 0-0 2, Leonard 7-13 4-6 19, Robinson 7-14 2-2 19, Smith 3-10 0-0 7, Beard-Fails 1-4 0-0 2, Burich 1-2 0-0 2, Watts 2-4 0-1 4, Caylao-Do 0-0 0-0 0, Freeman 1-5 0-0 2, Totals 30-73 8-11 75.Washington;23;19;14;23;—;79 Colorado;16;15;17;27;—;75
3-Point Goals — Washington 9-24 (Osahor 2-4, McDonald 2-5, Plum 3-8, Romeo 2-5, Corral 0-2), Colorado 7-25 (Ellis 2-8, Leonard 1-2, Robinson 3-7, Smith 1-5, Beard-Fails 0-1, Burich 0-1, Freeman 0-1). Assists — Washington 14 (Plum 6), Colorado 11 (Leonard 6). Fouled Out — Colorado Smith. Rebounds_Washington 39 (Osahor 16), Colorado 41 (Smith 11). Total Fouls — Washington 14, Colorado 19. A — 1,818.