CU women's basketball preview: San Jose State

MATCHUP: San Jose State Spartans (1-5) at Colorado Buffaloes (6-1)

GAME TIME: Thursday, 7 p.m. MT, at CU Evens Center in Boulder

BROADCAST: Online - Cubuffs.com/watchwbb. Radio - KHOW 630 AM

COACHES: Colorado — JR Payne, 3rd season (38-33; 138-146 career). SJSU — Jamie Craighead, 6th season (58-102; 109-174 career).

KEY PLAYERS: Colorado — G Quinessa Caylao-Do, Jr., 10.4 ppg, 3.9 rpg; G/F Mya Hollingshed, So., 10.7 ppg, 5.9 rpg; F Annika Jank, So., 8.3 ppg, 4.1 rpg; G Kennedy Leonard, Sr., 16.0 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 8.0 apg, 3.3 spg; G Alexis Robinson, Sr., 9.0 ppg, 2.6 rpg; F Peanut Tuitele, Fr., 8.9 ppg, 6.4 rpg. SJSU — G Fieme'a Hafoka, Jr., 11.5 ppg, 3.3 rpg; F Cydni Lewis, So., 10.0 ppg, 5.3 rpg; G Raziya Potter, Fr., 10.2 ppg, 3.5 rpg

NOTABLE: CU is looking to rebound from its first loss, 73-58 at Miami on Sunday. ... The Buffs are 2-0 all-time against San Jose State, with the last meeting coming on Dec. 5, 2014, in Boulder. ... Tuitele was named Pac-12 women's basketball freshman of the week on Monday. ... Leonard is five points away from becoming the 12th player in CU history with 1,500 for her career. ... Leonard and Robinson are tied for 10th in CU history with 143 3-pointers made. They are just one behind Jasmina Ilic (144, from 2003-07). ... This is the first of seven consecutive home games for the Buffs.

Just below her right collarbone, Quinessa Caylao-Do has a tattoo that serves as a daily reminder.

"Never a failure. Always a lesson," it reads.


Advertisement

"Just to remind myself that even if something goes bad, there's always good within it," said Caylao-Do, a junior on the Colorado women's basketball team

Caylao-Do's first two seasons at CU were filled with growing pains and lessons, but early in her junior with the Buffaloes (6-1), she is applying those lessons and enjoying her best campaign.

"Q has put in as much work, if not more work, than anybody on our team from last season to this season," head coach JR Payne said. "It's a great testament to that amount of work in the way she's improved her game."

In her second season as a starter, Caylao-Do is averaging a career-best 10.4 points per game. She's also shooting the ball better than at any time during her career, hitting at a 44.6 percent clip overall, 47.1 percent from 3-point range and 60.0 percent from the free throw line.

"She's worked so hard to grow and improve her game that her confidence has blossomed from that work," Payne said. "She's finishing really well near the basket, she's getting to the basket, she's shooting the ball well."

During her first two seasons with the Buffs, Caylao-Do averaged 4.0 points per game and made just 32.1 percent of her shots. She made just 25.6 percent of her 3s and was 51.5 percent from the free throw line.

"It bothered me a lot, because I'm very competitive and hard on myself," she said of her shooting percentages early in her career. "Just not being able to shoot as well as I thought I would or was able to."

Caylao-Do actually got off to a great start to her sophomore season, but in the fourth game of the season she broke her hand. She missed seven games and after she returned was never the same offensively.

"After the season was over, I just got myself together and was able to get more shots up," she said.

The work has paid off, with Caylao-Do playing with more confidence, not just offensively, but overall.

"Yes, for sure," she said. "My freshman year I struggled. I was able to learn a lot and soak in a lot of things and I think my sophomore year I was able to apply that a little bit.

"Now, I'm a lot older and everything has slowed down a little bit for me."

While Caylao-Do is providing more scoring punch, she hasn't slacked off in the area that earned her playing time the previous two years.

"Of course I love defense," she said. "That's definitely one thing I love and I'm going to look forward to and that will help me with my energy and help with my offense."

Caylao-Do is also one of the most experienced players on the team, and Payne often puts her on the court with younger players to be a leader.

"As her coach, I rely on her very much to be one of our solid players," Payne said. "I just feel like I can trust her to take care of the basketball, make good decisions, deliver a pass when it needs to be delivered."

Off the court, Caylao-Do, from Tacoma, Wash., said she's doing well academically and ingrained herself in the CU community, creating relationships with athletes in other sports.

It's all added up to Caylao-Do enjoying the best year of her collegiate career. Of course, she hopes this is just the beginning of a successful season for the Buffs.

"I think we can be really good," she said. "Each day if we just grow in practice and work on the small things and whatever we may have struggled with ... it'll be really important and help us on the court."

Contact staff writer Brian Howell at howellb@dailycamera.com or twitter.com/BrianHowell33