What went right: The Buffs went 7-for-15 on 3-pointers in the first half and finished 9-for-10 at the free throw line.
What went wrong: While CU enjoyed an overall rebounding advantage of 33-28, the Huskies were able to turn 13 offensive rebounds into a 16-6 advantage on second-chance points.
Star of the game: Kennedy Leonard. The junior guard matched a career-high with 13 assists while also recording 14 points and six steals.
What's next: The Buffs play their final regular-season home game Sunday against Washington State (noon, Pac-12 Network).
Kennedy Leonard was in a giving mood Friday night.
The junior guard from the Colorado women's basketball team put on a historic performance and, better yet for the Buffaloes, her ability to find open teammates paved the way for a 76-56 victory against Washington in a Pac-12 Conference battle at the Coors Events Center.
Leonard matched a career high by dishing out 13 assists against the Huskies, a total she reached in part due to a hot shooting performance during the first half as the Buffs quickly built a sizeable lead and never looked back.
It was just the second victory in 11 games for the Buffs since a 66-63 win at Washington on Jan. 7.
"Ken is really a scoring point guard, but when the assist numbers are that high what it tells me is that our offense is moving," CU coach JR Payne said. "We're moving the basketball. We're sharing the basketball. We're getting out in transition and having opportunities to distribute and score. When Ken's assist numbers are that high, our offense is clicking."
Leonard set a team record for assists in a quarter with seven in the opening frame and she had 10 at halftime, which also set a team record. Leonard previously recorded 13 assists against Cal two years ago as a freshman, and she matched her own mark for the fourth-best assist total by a CU player in the program's history.
Assists, of course, come more easily when shots are going down, and in the first half the Buffs finished 19-for-33 overall with a 7-for-15 mark on 3-pointers. CU led 48-35 at halftime and extended the lead to 24 points midway through the fourth quarter.
Alexis Robinson went 5-for-10 in the first half and finished with a game-high 18 points. Mya Hollingshed went 5-for-6 overall and 4-for-5 on 3-pointers before finishing with 14 points, while Leonard complemented her big night running the offense by going 5-for-9 with 14 points. Leonard became the third CU player to surpass the 500-assist mark in her career and finished the night at 506 — trailing only Shelley Sheetz (514) and Bridget Turner (612) among CU's all-time leaders.
Leonard's six steals also fell one short of her career-high.
Washington held a brief 3-2 lead in the opening moments but the Buffs never trailed after immediately reeling off a 9-0 run. Consecutive 3-pointers by the Huskies got UW within 12 points with just under two minutes remaining in the third quarter, but the Buffs answered with six consecutive points in a 10-2 run to pull away for good.
"Assists are kind of weird. If someone dribbles twice you don't get an assist, so it's too much work to count in games," Leonard said. "I just focus on trying to find open people, and then they hit open shots. I don't really do much."
CU freshman Aubrey Knight was taken to the locker room at the 5 minute, 57 mark of the third quarter after suffering an apparent right shoulder injury. Afterward Payne said, "I don't even know what it is yet. But we'll be hoping that she can play this weekend, and if not she'll be the same positive, upbeat spirit she always is." Knight finished with a team-best seven rebounds...Before Kennedy's performance Friday night she shared the team record for assists in a half (nine) with two former Buffs, Whitney Law and Lexy Kresl...CU shot 50 percent (.518) for the first time in Pac-12 play. It was the Buffs' third-best mark overall this season and their best mark in league play since shooting .579 against UCLA on Jan. 11, 2015.
Colorado 76, Washington 56
At Coors Events Center
WASHINGTON (7-19, 1-14)
Johnson 1-8 1-2 3, Henson 2-7 0-0 5, Melgoza 5-15 4-5 15, Moser 4-8 4-4 13, Wieburg 3-4 0-0 8, Semebene 2-5 0-0 4, Rooks 1-3 0-0 3, Griggsby 2-5 0-0 5. Totals 20-55 9-11 56.
COLORADO (13-13, 4-11)
Knight 1-3 2-2 4, Correal 3-4 2-2 8, Caylao-Do 4-6 0-0 8, Robinson 7-15 1-1 18, Leonard 5-9 2-2 14, Carter 0-2 1-1 1, Thomas 1-5 0-0 2, Hollingshed 5-6 0-0 14, Diop 1-2 0-0 2, Jank 2-3 1-2 4, Castro 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 29-56 9-10 76
Score by quarters:Washington 17 18 9 12 — 56
Colorado 29 19 14 14 — 76
3-point field goals — Washington 7-28 (Johnson 0-3, Henson 1-5, Melgoza 1-4, Moser 1-5, Wieburg 2-3, Semebene 0-1, Rooks 1-3, Griggsby 1-4); Colorado 9-25 (Robinson 3-10, Leonard 2-5, Carter 0-1, Thomas 0-1, Hollingshed 4-5, Diop 0-1, Jank 0-1, Castro 0-1). Rebounds — Washington 28 (Johnson 9); Colorado 33 (Knight 7). Assists — Washington 9 (Henson 3); Colorado 20 (Leonard 13). Total fouls — Washington 14; Colorado 13.