In the days since the Colorado women's basketball team knocked off Miami (Fla.), head coach JR Payne has implored her club to make certain they continue to hit the floor with impeccable aggressiveness.
It took the better part of a half to see that mindset in action on Friday afternoon, but once the Buffaloes' aggressiveness kicked in they made quick work of Mississippi Valley State, posting an 85-48 victory in the first game of the Rocky Mountain Hoops Classic at the Coors Events Center.
The Buffs used a huge third quarter to pull away and featured six players reaching double-figures in points while cruising to their fourth win in five games. CU will host George Mason in the tournament finale Saturday at 2:30 p.m.
"For three days we've been talking about be aggressive, be aggressive, be aggressive," Payne said. "At times in the first half we were, but not what we were trying to be. That's all we were talking about (at halftime), just be aggressive. I thought we did that a lot better and more consistently in the third quarter.
"Aggression for us leads to rebounding, leads to more paint touches, leads to more open shots. I thought that's really where the turn came."
Mississippi Valley State scored the first basket of the third quarter to remain within 10 points, but the Buffs quickly turned it on from there. CU scored the next 18 consecutive points while finishing the frame with an 8-for-14 mark from the floor. That included a 5-for-6 effort from 3-point range, and the Buffs also were able to turn seven third-quarter turnovers by MVSU into 10 points. CU never trailed in the contest and led 65-36 going into the fourth after outscoring the Devilettes 27-10 in the third.
"During halftime coach really got into us and told us we had to be more disciplined and more tough," junior guard Alexis Robinson said. "I think that's what we really did in the third quarter."
Robinson led all scorers with 15 points, combining with fellow starting guard Kennedy Leonard to go 7-for-12 on 3-pointers. Leonard finished with 13 points and seven assists, and the Buffs also received 10 points apiece from Janea Bunn, Annika Jank, Aubrey Knight, and Mathilde Diop.
Diop, a sophomore transfer from Arizona Western College, played only three minutes through the Buffs' first four games but grabbed 10 rebounds to post her first double-double at the Division I level. Bunn also recorded five blocked shots.
"The one thing that we really stated in practice throughout the week every single day is rebounding, and as big as we are and as long as we are, Mathilde led us in rebounding this week," Payne said. "I thought the 10 rebounds tonight, some people might have been surprised but I wasn't because she's been doing it all week. And we needed it, too."
The Buffs played without sophomore guard Quinessa Caylao-Do, who was injured during last week's win against Miami. Payne said that Caylao-Do, who is averaging 7.5 points, would not play Saturday but offered no further prognosis beyond, "we're not sure when she'll return."...Leonard needs just four points Saturday to become the 30th CU player to score 1,000 points in her career...George Mason defeated Drake 87-75 in the second game Friday.
Colorado 85, Mississippi Valley State 48
At Coors Events Center
Holmon 1-3 0-0 2, Bassett 4-15 1-2 10, Parker 1-7 7-12 9, Arnold 3-6 1-3 7, Floyd 2-9 0-0 6, Foye 0-0 0-0 -0, Sawyers 0-4 1-2 1, Mosley 2-13 6-8 11, Bonner 1-6 0-2 2. Totals 14-63 16-29 48.
Bunn 3-5 4-5 10, Jank 4-9 2-4 10, Robinson 6-8 0-0 15, Leonard 4-9 1-2 13, Knight 4-5 1-2 10, Carter 0-3 2-2 2, Thomas 1-5 0-0 2, Correal 0-0 4-4 4, Hollingshed 0-5 3-4 3, Diop 3-8 2-2 10, Castro 2-6 0-0 4, Curtis 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 28-64 19-24 85.
MVSU 11 15 10 12 — 48
Colorado 16 22 27 20 — 85
3-point field goals — MVSU 4-24 (Bassett 1-6, Parker 0-4, Arnold 0-2, Foye 2-5, Sawyers 0-1, Mosley 1-6); Colorado 10-26 (Robinson 3-4, Leonard 4-8, Knight 1-2, Carter 0-2, Thomas 0-2, Diop 2-4, Castro 0-4). Rebounds — MVSU 40 (Bassett, Mosley 5); Colorado 54 (Diop 10). Assists — MVSU 6 (Bassett 3); Colorado 21 (Leonard 7). Total fouls — MVSU 22, Colorado 23. Fouled out — Floyd. Technical fouls — Bonner, Bunn.