What went right: The Buffs were efficient on offense, hitting 45.1 percent of their shots and matching their season low with only 10 turnovers.
What went wrong: Rebounding was a problem throughout this one, as ASU had a dominating 40-25 advantage.
Star of the game: Kennedy Leonard. The junior had 23 points and six assists to lead the Buffs.
What's next: CU will host Oregon on Friday at Coors Events Center at 8 p.m. MT.
It's been a rough couple of weeks for the Colorado women's basketball team, but on Sunday the Buffaloes showed some positive signs.
No, the Buffs didn't get a win against No. 22 Arizona State at Wells Fargo Arena in Tempe, Ariz., but they held their own and had their best performance in two weeks in the 73-59 loss.
Facing a team that smacked them by 25 points in the conference opener on Dec. 29 in Boulder, the Buffs (11-8, 2-6 Pac-12) pushed the Sun Devils (14-6, 5-3) for four quarters before coming up short.
"I thought we played really hard, I thought we executed an offensive game plan that was better against Arizona State," CU head coach JR Payne said. "Our offense was good, we just didn't rebound as well as we needed to tonight."
Junior point guard Kennedy Leonard shook off some early turnovers to post 23 points and six assists to lead the Buffs, while center Zoe Correal added 10 points.
Leonard had four turnovers in the first 12 minutes of the game, but none after that in helping the Buffs pull within six points in the fourth quarter.
ASU outscored the Buffs 13-7 in the last four minutes to pull away for the win. Kianna Ibis had a game-high 24 points for the Sun Devils.
Leonard and backup point guard Peyton Carter (eight points, two assists) played with composure throughout the final three quarters to keep the Buffs in it.
"Coming into this game, we knew what Peyton could give us," Payne said. "She exudes calm for a young kid, she doesn't get flustered and against Arizona State's defense. It's typically high pressure, so we knew if we needed it she could give us some calm. Kennedy was scoring the ball well early in the first half, so we thought we could bring Peyton in, keep the calm, move Ken over to the wing and it proved to be a pretty good thing for us offensively."
The Buffs also got a lift offensively at times from Correal, Alexis Robinson and Mya Hollingshed.
Rebounding proved to be a difference, however, as ASU dominated the boards, 40-25. ASU had 17 offensive rebounds, converting them into 15 second-chance points.
Twice, the Sun Devils appeared to be on their way to a rout.
With 5:55 to play in the second quarter, the Sun Devils led by 14, but a Carter 3 sparked a 16-9 Buffs run to close the half.
Then, with 3:25 to go in the third, the Sun Devils grabbed their biggest lead of the game, 47-32. Again, a Carter 3 sparked a rally, as the Buffs went on an 11-2 run to close the quarter. Leonard's buzzer-beating jumper brought them within six going into the fourth.
The Buffs were never able to gain the lead, however, and lost their fourth straight.
It was a much better effort overall, however. Last weekend, the Buffs had losses of 35 and 38 points to USC and UCLA, respectively. Then, on Friday, they lost at last-place Arizona.
Arizona State 73, Colorado 59
At Wells Fargo Arena
COLORADO (11-8, 2-6 PAC-12)
Caylao-Do 0-3 0-0 0, Robinson 4-10 0-0 9, Leonard 8-19 6-8 23, Correal 5-6 0-0 10, Jank 1-1 0-0 2, Carter 2-5 2-2 8, Thomas 0-2 0-0 0, Hollingshed 3-5 0-0 7, Knight 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 23-51 8-10 59.
ARIZONA STATE (14-6, 5-3)
Richardson 2-6 3-4 9, Ryan 2-6 0-0 4, Ekmark 6-11 2-3 16, Johnson-Chapman 1-1 0-2 2, Ibis 10-17 2-2 24, Russell 2-6 3-5 8, Elenga 0-1 2-2 2, Sanders 0-1 0-0 0, Ruden 4-11 0-0 8. Totals 27-60 12-18 73..
Score by quarters:Colorado9171716—59Arizona State20131624—73
3-point field goals — Colorado 5-18 (Carter 2-4, Leonard 1-6, Robinson 1-4, Hollingshed 1-3, Caylao-Do 0-1). ASU 7-21 (Ekmark 2-7, Ibis 2-4, Richardson 2-3, Russell 1-4, Ryan 0-1, Sanders 0-1, Ruden 0-1). Rebounds — Colorado 25 (Hollingshed 7), ASU 40 (Johnson-Chapman 12). Assists — Colorado 10 (Leonard 6), ASU 212 (Ryan 8). Steals — Colorado 3 (Caylao-Do, Thomas, Hollingshed), ASU 2 (Richardson, Russell). Turnovers — Colorado 10, ASU 10. Total fouls — Colorado 18, ASU 10. Fouled out — None. A — 2,008.