What went right: The Buffs kept their turnovers down (13), hit their free throws (21-for-28) and managed to get enough offense to win most games.
What went wrong: Defense and rebounding - particularly in the fourth quarter - failed the Buffs, allowing Dartmouth too many open looks at the basket.
Star of the game: Janea Bunn. She had one of her best games of the season for the Buffs, with 15 points and six rebounds, as well as two blocks.
What's next: The Buffs visit Air Force on Friday at 7 p.m.
Colorado women's basketball coach J.R. Payne didn't like the vibe around her team throughout the day on Monday.
"Our shoot-around wasn't very good, our warm-up wasn't very good," Payne said. "It was kind of a flat feeling all day long."
That flat feeling continued into the evening, as the Buffaloes were handed a humbling 81-75 loss to visiting Dartmouth at Coors Events Center.
"I don't know if that's fatigue or getting ready for finals or what it was," Payne said of the lackluster feeling around her team, "but Dartmouth came in ready to play. They're a great team. They did everything we thought they'd do, things we worked on. They exerted their will. They did whatever they wanted to do and we did not put up enough resistance to stop them."
The Buffs (7-2) had their six-game winning streak snapped by the Big Green (7-2), who got 24 points and seven assists from Cy Lippold.
A 5-foot-2 guard, Lippold outscored the Buffs herself, 17-16, in the fourth quarter. In all, the Big Green outscored CU 29-16 in the final quarter, rallying from a seven-point deficit. CU had been 22-1 under Payne when going into the fourth with a lead.
"I just don't think we were dialed in," said freshman Annika Jank, who led CU with a career-high 26 points. "We weren't really energized from the start of the game, so I think we could have been more dialed in."
It was quite a contrast from CU's last game, a thrilling 70-67 win in Fort Collins against rival Colorado State on Wednesday.
Since then, the Buffs haven't been themselves, even in practice, and while preparation for finals could play a role, junior guard Kennedy Leonard wasn't using that as an excuse.
"I don't think it should play a role," said Leonard, who shook off early shooting woes to finish with 15 points, eight assists and seven rebounds. "We're a young team and it's going to take some time for everybody to understand that you have to come in with an attitude every day that you're not good enough yet.
"I think we needed this and hopefully it teaches us kind of a lesson."
Not the lesson CU had hoped for, however.
The disciplined and fundamentally sound Big Green jumped to a quick 5-0 lead and it was a battle all night. Neither team ever led by more than eight, a lead that CU held, 51-43, midway through the third quarter.
The Buffs never found their killer instinct, however, and wound up playing the final three minutes from behind.
"I never really felt super in control of the game all night long," Payne said.
"Our two staples, the foundation of our success comes from defense and rebounding and I don't think we did those as well as we needed to do tonight to be successful."
It certainly wasn't the type of performance CU wanted with Pac-12 play set to begin on Dec. 29, but the Buffs have two more non-conference games to get back on track.
"Perhaps we needed this," Payne said. "You never want to lose ... but the reality is that Pac-12 is coming very quickly and all of these games are in preparation for our conference play.
"If this game, a tough loss at home ... maybe that prepares us more for Stanford and UCLA and SC and all the teams that we'll be facing in league soon. I'm always positive, so I'll find a way to make this into a positive and we'll get better from it."
Jank had the most points by a CU freshman since Tera Bjorklund scored 28 at Wyoming on Nov. 29, 2000. ... The Buffs got just two points (by Brecca Thomas) from the bench, while Dartmouth had 21. ... CU played without center Zoe Correal, who was dealing with knee pain.
Dartmouth 81, Colorado 75
At Coors Event Center
Quinones 4-6 4-5 12, Lenart 1-4 2-2 4, Lippold 9-18 5-6 24, Letkewicz 5-12 2-2 16, Slagle 2-6 0-0 4, McKenna 0-0 0-0 0, Smith 4-9 0-0 8, Luce 2-6 2-2 6, Brown 1-2 0-0 3, Dryden 1-2 2-2 4, Norman 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 29-67 17-19 81.
Bunn 7-15 1-6 15, Jank 8-15 8-8 26, Robinson 4-12 3-4 11, Leonard 3-14 9-10 15, Knight 3-5 0-0 6, Thomas 1-2 0-0 2, Hollingshed 0-1 0-0 0, Diop 0-3 0-0 0, Curtis 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 26-67 21-28 75.
Score by quarters:Dartmouth19 151829—81Colorado20201916—75
3-point field goals — Dartmouth 6-21 (Letkewicz 4-6, Lippold 1-8, Brown 1-1, Slagle 0-3, Norman 0-2, Smith 0-1), Colorado 2-14 (Jank 2-3, Leonard 0-5, Robinson 0-3, Diop 0-2, Thomas 0-1). Rebounds— Dartmouth 42 (Dryden 6), Colorado 42 (Jank, Leonard 7).Assists — Dartmouth 12 (Lippold 7), Colorado 15 (Leonard 8).Steals — Dartmouth 6 (Lippold 3), Coloraod 8 (Robinson 3).Turnovers — Dartmouth 14, Colorado 13..Total fouls — Dartmouth 19, Colorado 17. Fouled out — none. A— 1,651.