What went right: Colorado forced 18 turnovers and scored 19 points off of those turnovers. Haley Smith had a career-high five steals for the Buffs.
What went wrong: CU's offense struggled once again, including going 0-for-14 from 3-point range. The Buffs were also beaten badly on the boards, with OSU finishing with a 51-30 advantage.
Star of the game: Haley Smith. The senior had just eight points, but also six rebounds and a career-high five steals for the Buffs.
What's next: The Buffs will host Oregon on Sunday at noon in their final home game of the regular season.
Effort is rarely a problem for the Colorado women's basketball team.
That effort doesn't always translate into a victory, but it sure does give the Buffaloes a chance most nights.
On Friday, the Buffs once again gave one of the best teams in the country fits before falling, 54-49, against No. 11 Oregon State at Coors Events Center.
"We were tough, we were fearless, we were aggressive," CU head coach JR Payne said. "We were everything we wanted to be tonight and just fell a little bit short.
"I think our effort is so good that it allows us to be in a game with a team like that. Our effort is phenomenal."
The scrappy Buffs (14-12, 4-11 Pac-12) trailed throughout the final 34 minutes, but it wasn't until the final 24 seconds that Oregon State (24-3, 13-2) put the game away with a pair of late free throws.
CU pulled within one, 48-47, with 3 minutes, 17 seconds to play after Ariana Freeman hit the second of her back-to-back buckets. During that stretch, CU held the Beavers scoreless for nearly 5 minutes.
"Just execution on the defensive end," said sophomore Kennedy Leonard, who led CU with 18 points and five assists. "I thought we did that in that span and that led to our offense."
CU has made a habit of turning defense into offense, and that kept them in the game against the Beavers. The Buffs forced 18 turnovers and converted them into 19 points.
"Tonight, that was really helpful and that's something that we bring to the table every game," said senior Haley Smith, who had a career-high five steals. "We're going to defensively make you do something you don't want to do and then turn that into offense."
Unfortunately for the Buffs, Oregon State got just enough offensive down the stretch, outscoring CU 6-2 in the final 1:17.
CU went 0-for-14 from 3-point range, but Payne was most disappointed with OSU's 51-30 advantage in rebounding.
"They are the best rebounding team in the league and one of the best in the country, and I get that, but I still think we're better than getting beat by 20 on the boards," Payne said. "That's an area that we as a group have to do better, top to bottom."
As a group, however, CU's effort and energy is better than it's been in years. That has made a huge difference this season and set a foundation for the program in Payne's first season in Boulder.
"The coaches are always telling us, when in doubt, just be aggressive," Smith said. "I think that has really helped our mindset.
"I think we're the most successful when, offensively and defensively, we're dictating and we're deciding what we're going to do. I think that's a big step for us. It is letting us stay in games like this, but obviously the next step is to be able to finish that and do that for 40 minutes."
The last time CU went a whole game without hitting a 3-pointer was on March 2, 2014, against USC. ... OSU star Sydney Wiese led the team with 14 points, but scored just two points — on a pair of free throws with 32.7 seconds left — in the second half.
Oregon St. (24-3)
Brown 2-8 3-6 7, Gulich 4-9 0-0 8, Hanson 2-8 1-2 5, Pivec 0-4 1-2 1, Wiese 4-10 2-2 14, Orum 5-7 0-4 10, Kalmer 2-3 0-0 4, McWilliams 0-2 0-0 0, Tudor 2-3 0-0 5, Totals 21-54 7-16 54.Colorado (14-12)
Ellis 2-10 0-1 4, Smith 4-9 0-0 8, Correal 1-4 0-0 2, Leonard 8-19 2-3 18, Robinson 2-9 1-1 5, Beard-Fails 1-4 0-0 2, Burich 1-2 0-0 2, Watts 0-2 0-0 0, Caylao-Do 1-1 0-0 2, Freeman 3-6 0-1 6, Huggins 0-0 0-0 0, Totals 23-66 3-6 49.Oregon St. 17 16 11 10 —54
Colorado 11 14 10 14 —49
3-Point Goals — Oregon St. 5-20 (Hanson 0-4, Pivec 0-2, Wiese 4-9, Kalmer 0-1, McWilliams 0-2, Tudor 1-2), Colorado 0-14 (Ellis 0-4, Smith 0-2, Leonard 0-3, Robinson 0-3, Beard-Fails 0-1, Burich 0-1). Assists — Oregon St. 14 (Hanson 5), Colorado 12 (Leonard 5). Fouled out — None. Rebounds — Oregon St. 51 (Brown 10), Colorado 30 (Ellis 8). Total Fouls — Oregon St. 10, Colorado 18. A — 1,751.