Fast break

What went right: CU shot 50 percent as a team, dished 18 assists on 28 buckets, and forced 15 Oregon turnovers, converting those into 20 points.

What went wrong: The Buffs were out-rebounded 34-29 and committed 10 second-half turnovers. They did enough good, however, to make up for it.

Star of the game: Haley Smith. In the final regular season home game of her career, Smith had 23 points - reaching 1,000 for her career - and 11 rebounds. It was the fourth double-double of her career.

What's next: The Buffs will travel to No. 9 Washington on Thursday.

 

Throughout her career at Colorado, Haley Smith has produced a lot of great memories on the basketball court.

Her senior day may wind up near the top of her all-time list.

Playing in her final regular season home game at Coors Events Center, Smith had one of the best performances of her career, reached a personal milestone and led the Buffaloes to a 76-66 victory against Oregon.

"Of course, senior day, the seniors are going to come out with a lot of energy and the entire team wants to play well for those seniors," Smith said. "It was really good we came out strong and were able to sustain that for the full 40 (minutes)."


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A 6-foot-1 forward, Smith finished with 23 points and 11 rebounds, and now sits at exactly 1,000 points for her career at CU (15-12, 5-11 Pac-12). She is the 29th player in school history to reach 1,000 points, and just the 15th to couple that with at least 500 rebounds (she now has 594).

"I definitely knew it was getting kind of close," she said of reaching 1,000, which she did with 3 minutes, 14 seconds to go. "It was special to have a lot of family here and do it on senior day and get to do it in front of the Buff fans, so yeah it was really special."

Colorado’s Alexis Robinson drives past Oregon’s Lexi Bando on Sunday.
Colorado's Alexis Robinson drives past Oregon's Lexi Bando on Sunday. (Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer)

What made the day even more special to Smith was that the rest of her team played well and put together one of their more complete games of the season.

From the start, the Buffs were focused and energetic and they never let up. An Alexis Robinson 3-pointer with 2:15 to play in the first quarter gave the Buffs a 17-6 lead and the lead was never less than 10 from that point on.

The Buffs led by as many 22 before Oregon (18-10, 8-8) closed the game on a 14-2 run over the last five minutes to make the game look closer.

"We stuck together," head coach JR Payne said. "We knew there would be some adversity and some good things and some challenging things, but we genuinely played like a team today."

Sophomore point guard Kennedy Leonard had 13 points and 10 assists for the fourth double-double of her career; Robinson had 14 points, five rebounds and three steals; and Makenzie Ellis finished with 13 points and four assists.

The Buffs were out-rebounded, 34-29, but it didn't matter much because they finally shot the ball well, hitting 50 percent (28 of 56) of their field goals. They've been the worst shooting team in the conference this season and had not been better than 41 percent since non-conference play in December.

"We showed we're capable of it," Payne said. "A lot of (the buckets) were great defensive possessions that led to layups, because we were so aggressive in transition."

CU scored 20 points off of 15 Oregon turnovers, and out-scored the Ducks 15-2 in fast-break points.

In addition to Smith, the Buffs paid tribute to seniors Zoe Beard-Fails, Lauren Huggins and Bri Watts, who all got a chance to play in the victory.

"This is obviously a big game," said Beard-Fails, who had seven points and two rebounds in her 12 minutes. "It's senior night, and I was crying before we even got on the court. It was really important for us to show our fans what we can do. It's our last game at home and we want to go out with a bang and get some momentum going into a good two games this next weekend."

The Buffs will play two games in Washington this next week and then go to the Pac-12 Tournament in Seattle the following week.

Sunday's win, however, may help them extend their season. One year after going 7-23, the Buffs are assured of finishing no worse than .500, making them postseason eligible for the first time since 2014. Even at .500, they'd be an attractive option for the Women's NIT.

"It was definitely a goal for us, if not the NCAA Tournament, to have some sort of postseason play," Smith said. "Hitting this big mark and securing maybe some sort of postseason play is definitely big. Obviously as seniors we want to extend the season as long as we can and keep pushing."

Notable

Smith's double-double was the fourth of her career and second this season. ... CU has had 15 points/assists double-doubles in program history, and Leonard has four of them. ... This was the first time two Buffs had double-doubles in the same game since Dec. 5, 2014, against San Jose State (Smith and Jamee Swan). ... Sunday's attendance of 3,988 was the largest at Coors Events Center for women's basketball since 5,631 against USC on March 2, 2014.

Colorado 76, Oregon 66

OREGON (18-10, 8-8 Pac-12)

Hebard 9-12 6-8 24, McGwire 5-8 1-2 11, Cazorla 0-2 0-0 0, Bando 3-10 0-0 8, Ionescu 5-13 4-4 16, Yaeger 1-3 0-0 3, Hall 0-4 0-0 0, Moore 0-0 0-0 0, Vandenberg 0-0 0-0 0, Gildon 2-2 0-0 4, Campisano 0-3 0-0 0. Totals 25-57 11-14 66.

COLORADO (15-12, 5-11 Pac-12)

Ellis 5-10 1-2 13, Correal 2-3 2-2 6, Robinson 6-14 0-3 14, Leonard 3-6 7-9 13, Smith 9-19 3-4 23, Caylao-Do 0-0 0-0 0, Watts 0-0 0-0 0, Burich 0-0 0-0 0, Huggins 0-0 0-0 0, Beard-Fails 3-4 0-0 7. Totals 28-56 13-20 76.

3-point goals — Oregon 5-19 (Ionescu 2-8, Bando 2-6, Yaeger 1-1, Hall 0-3, Cazorla 0-1), Colorado 7-19 (Robinson 2-8, Ellis 2-5, Smith 2-5, Beard-Fails 1-1). Rebounds — Oregon 34 (McGwire 7), Colorado 29 (Smith 11). Assists — Oregon 10 (Cazorla 5), Colorado 18 (Leonard 10). Turnovers — Oregon 15, Colorado 13. Total fouls — Oregon 17, Colorado 18. Fouled out — none. A — 3,988.

 

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