CU women's basketball preview: California
MATCHUP: California Golden Bears (12-6, 3-4) at Colorado Buffaloes (10-8, 0-7)
GAME TIME: Sunday, 1 p.m., at CU Events Center in Boulder
BROADCAST: TV — Pac-12 Networks. Radio — KHOW 630 AM
COACHES: Colorado — JR Payne, 3rd season (42-40; 142-153 career). California — Lindsay Gottlieb, 8th season (171-82; 227-121 career).
KEY PLAYERS: Colorado - G Quinessa Caylao-Do, Jr., 11.4 ppg, 4.1 rpg; G/F Mya Hollingshed, So., 10.7 ppg, 7.1 rpg; G Kennedy Leonard, Sr., 14.1 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 7.2 apg, 3.1 spg; G Alexis Robinson, Sr., 11.1 ppg, 2.4 rpg; F Peanut Tuitele, Fr., 8.4 ppg, 5.8 rpg; G Lesila Finau, Fr., 1.8 ppg, 1.8 rpg. Cal - C/F Kristine Anigwe, Sr., 22.8 ppg, 15.2 rpg, 2.0 bpg; G/F Jaelyn Brown, Jr., 6.7 ppg, 4.3 rpg; G Recee Caldwell, Sr., 7.4 ppg, 2.4 rpg, 4.0 apg; G Kianna Smith, So., 9.4 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 3.1 apg; G Asha Thomas, Sr., 10.7 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 3.6 apg.
NOTABLE: CU lost to No. 6 Stanford, 80-69. Robinson had a season-high 25 points in the defeat. ... The Buffs are 0-7 in conference play for just the second time in program history (the 2015-16 team started 0-9). ... Dating back to last year, the Buffs have lost nine consecutive regular season conference games, the third-longest streak in program history. ... Leonard has missed the last four games with a foot injury. ... CU is 7-11 all-time against Cal, including 4-4 in Boulder. ... Cal is coming off an 87-74 loss at Utah on Friday. The Bears are 0-3 on the road in Pac-12 play. ... Anigwe has posted 19 consecutive double-doubles, including 24 points, 15 rebounds at Utah.
With her career winding down and her short-handed team in desperation mode, Alexis Robinson has kicked her game into a new gear.
Entering Sunday's home contest with California, the Colorado women's basketball team is still winless in Pac-12 Conference play, but Robinson's doing all she can to change that.
"The type of offensive leadership Lexi is giving us right now as our lone senior on the floor is very much needed and it's unbelievable," head coach JR Payne said after Friday's 80-69 loss to No. 6 Stanford.
CU (10-8, 0-7 Pac-12) is struggling to find wins, but played perhaps its best all-around game Friday against Stanford, despite missing star senior Kennedy Leonard and two others with injuries.
Enter Robinson, who has always been a talented shooter, but not always the most aggressive or consistent scorer for the Buffs. She scored a season-high 25 points against the Cardinal, one game after scoring her previous season-high of 24 in a loss to Utah.
This is the first time in the senior's career she has hit the 20-point mark in back-to-back games.
"That's my team; they give me a lot of confidence and they tell me to keep shooting the ball, so that's what I do," Robinson said.
Robinson's offense has been inconsistent this year. Even with her recent surge, her scoring average (11.1 points per game) and shooting percentage (.323) are her lowest since her freshman year. Her 3-point percentage (.287) is a career low.
Despite that, Robinson has cranked up her aggressiveness in practice and games the past two weeks, and it's paying off.
"I'm just a lot more confident," she said. "My teammates have a lot of confidence in me and they pick me up when I'm not making shots."
Against Stanford, Robinson tied her career high with five made 3-pointers, which isn't much of a surprise. The 3-pointer has always been a part of her game, as she ranks eighth in CU history with 164. Only six players in CU history have attempted more 3s than Robinson (509).
She also went a career-best 8-for-8 at the free throw line against the Cardinal, a sign of offensive aggressiveness she hasn't always flashed. She had never made more than seven free throws in a game at CU, and it had been more than three years since she attempted as many as eight.
Prior to the Utah game on Jan. 18, Robinson had attempted just 16 free throws all season. She's 11-for-12 at the line in the last two games.
With injuries hampering the Buffs of late, the surge by Robinson is essential if they are to snap their losing streak.
"Lexi is capable of these numbers and she's working so hard to be able to give that to her team," Payne said. "I think she knows we need that and she's giving everything she's got for her teammates."