What went right: Down the stretch, the Buffs played lock-down defense and that created some easy opportunities on offense, as they pulled away late.
What went wrong: The defense struggled at times in the first three quarters, especially against Pepperdine star Yasmine Robinson-Bacote, who had a game-high 25 points.
Star of the game: Kennedy Leonard. She posted her eighth career double-double (18 points, 10 assists), while also adding seven rebounds and five steals.
What's next: CU will visit Miami on Sunday.
Colorado women's basketball assistant coach Toriano Towns has yelled at the Buffaloes' defense to get their hands out so many times that senior Kennedy Leonard figured it was time to quiet him down a bit.
So, she got her hands out, created turnovers and sparked a fourth-quarter surge that led the Buffs to an 80-65 win against Pepperdine on Tuesday at CU Events Center.
"It feels good because then coach T doesn't tell me to get my hands out," Leonard joked after filling the box score with 18 points, 10 assists, seven rebounds and five steals. "He's always yelling, 'Get your hands out!' every day. Finally when a ball hits your hand, you're like, 'OK, maybe I should get my hands out more.'"
An impressive all-around game by Leonard and exceptional team defense late in the game helped the Buffs (6-0) remain perfect on the season, while handing the visiting Waves (3-1) their first loss.
"We expected a battle," CU head coach JR Payne said. "We knew we were capable of beating this team, but we knew it wouldn't be easy and it certainly wasn't. I'm proud of how we defended, rebounded and actually executed down the stretch to get the win. Great win by our team tonight."
CU led by 14 early in the game, but Pepperdine closed the gap before halftime and then took its only lead of the night, 52-50, on a 3-pointer by Paige Fecske, with 5 minutes, 48 seconds to play in the third quarter.
Pepperdine stayed in the game in large part because of Yasmine Robinson-Bacote, who finished with 25 points — just a few days after pouring in 47 against Sacramento State.
Once the Waves took the lead, the Buffs switched to a zone defense.
"I think that was the catalyst for everything in the second half," Payne said. "We were having a hard time stopping (Robinson-Bacote). We thought that might disrupt their flow a little bit and their rhythm and it did, thankfully."
Tied at 58 to start the fourth, CU opened the quarter on a 12-0 run, sparked by several steals that led to easy buckets. In all, the Buffs outscored the Waves 22-7 in the final quarter.
Just as crucial as CU's transition defense was its ability to dominate the paint.
Led by Peanut Tuitele (18 points, six rebounds) and Annika Jank (12 points, three rebounds), CU outscored the Waves 50-16 in the paint and outrebounded them 40-32.
Tuitele, a freshman who had a season high in points, said the Buffs' scouting report showed that opportunities would be there in the post.
"Definitely I took advantage of that and ducked in, and credit to my guards feeding me the ball," she said.
Payne gave Tuitele her first career start, while bringing Jank off the bench for the first time. With the duo combining for 30 points and nine rebounds, Payne said, "I think it worked out well."
So far this season, a lot of things have worked well for the Buffs, who kept their win streak alive.
"Our confidence has grown and it just keeps going," Tuitele said.
Leonard posted her first double-double of the season and eighth of her career. ... Leonard, who went 6-for-8 from the floor, posted six assists before taking her first shot. ... Sophomore Aubrey Knight missed the game with a shoulder injury and is day-to-day.
Colorado 80, Pepperdine 65
At CU Events Center
Bambrick 1-3 0-0 2, Fecske 1-9 1-2 4, Sitanggan 2-4 2-3 7, Robinson-Bacote 10-16 0-0 25, Quirke 2-5 0-0 4, Pflug 2-10 0-0 6, House 1-2 0-0 2, Andriuolo 1-5 2-2 4, Lindsay 2-2 0-0 4, Battle 1-7 0-0 2, Satie 2-4 1-2 5. Totals 25-67 6-9 65.
Caylao-Do 2-8 3-4 7, Robinson 2-8 0-0 4, Leonard 6-8 6-8 18, Hollingshed 5-11 2-2 13, Tuitele 7-11 4-4 18, Swartz 0-0 0-0 0, Clarke 1-2 0-0 2, Finau 0-0 1-2 1, Carter 0-0 0-0 0, Dip 2-3 0-0 4, Jank 6-9 0-1 12, Volcy 0-0 1-2 1. Totals 31-60 17-23 80.
Score by quarters:Pepperdine 15 23 20 7 — 65
3-point goals - Pepperdine 9-22 (Robinson-Bacote 5-7, Pflug 2-5, Fecske 1-5, Sitanggan 1-1, Andriuolo 0-2, Bambrick 0-1, Battle 0-1), Colorado 1-12 (Hollingshed 1-4, Robinson 0-3, Leonard 0-2, Caylao-Do 0-1, Clarke 0-1, Jank 0-1). Rebounds - Pepperdine 32 (House 6), Colorado 40 (Leonard 7). Assists - Pepperdine 11 (Sitanggan 6), Colorado 19 (Leonard 10). Steals - Pepperdine 3 (3 with 1), Colorado 7 (Leonard 5). Turnovers - Pepperdine 13, Colorado 10. Total fouls - Pepperdine 13, Colorado 5. Fouled out - None. A - 1,319..