With California hitting nearly everything from 3-point range and the Colorado women's basketball team sputtering to another defeat, there weren't a lot of positives for the Buffaloes on Sunday.
Visiting Cal buried the Buffaloes early and rolled to an 80-60 rout at CU Events Center.
Yet, as the Buffaloes (10-9, 0-8 Pac-12) lost their eighth in a row, freshman point guard Sila Finau continued her maturation as a college player.
With senior Kennedy Leonard missing her fifth consecutive game because of a foot injury, Finau got her fourth start and had her best performance in a CU uniform.
"I think it's a great opportunity for me," Finau said of taking Leonard's spot at point guard. "Just being able to play is allowing me to be able to grow and be comfortable with all these elite basketball players."
Possibly the point guard of the future for CU, Finau scored a season-high 11 points, while adding four rebounds, two assists and two steals. She also took an early elbow to the face and a fought through a hard hit to her leg late in the game.
"I just wanted a W," she said. "Then I just kept thinking how (assistant coach Toriano Towns) always says never to give up and quit on plays, so I kept playing through everything."
Finau struggled mightily in her first two starts, but was the spark that got CU going in an 80-69 loss to No. 6 Stanford on Friday. The Buffs lost to the Cardinal, but won three of four quarters, in part because of Finau's efforts.
"The one thing we've always loved about Sila, and she's demonstrating that as we're kind of throwing her to the lion's den in these games, is that she plays fearlessly," CU head coach JR Payne said. "Fearlessness is something that we want to be and Sila embodies that."
Finau's best game wasn't nearly enough against the Bears, though.
Cal pulled away from the Buffs early, going 7-for-7 from 3-point range in the second quarter and 11-for-14 overall. CU's 3-point defense has been an Achilles' heel all season, and Cal exploited it.
"The (scouting report) was extremely accurate," Payne said. "We have to be able to play the scout more effectively in that way. As a group, we need to figure out why is it that teams shoot the ball so well against us, and how are we miscommunicating to where shooters are getting open looks? What can we do differently as a ball club to do a better job there?"
Cal blew the game open with four 3s in a row, turning a four-point lead into a 16-point advantage in just 92 seconds.
"It's definitely heart breaking, but you just have to play through it," said sophomore Mya Hollingshed, who led CU with 20 points. "They're going to go on a run, but we're also going to go on a run, so we just have to keep playing."
CU never did go on a run, though, trailing by as many as 29 points. While it was a bit of a breakthrough game for Finau, it was another frustrating setback for the Buffs.
"We just have to continue to get better," Payne said. "That's the only option."
Peanut Tuitele and Mathilde Diop, who both missed Friday's game with injuries, returned to the court Sunday, but played just 15 minutes between them. ... Cal was led by Kristine Anigwe, who scored 16 points and pulled down 11 rebounds, recording her 20th consecutive double-double.
California 80, Colorado 60
CALIFORNIA (13-6, 4-4 Pac-12)
Thomas 5-7 2-4 15, Smith 5-9 0-0 14, Caldwell 3-6 0-0 9, Anigwe 5-9 6-10 16, Brown 5-7 3-4 14, Forbes 0-1 0-0 0, Styles 2-5 2-4 6, Yu 2-4 0-0 4, Mosley 0-2 0-0 0, Olson 0-0 0-0 0, West 1-3 0-0 2, Richey 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 28-53 13-22 80.
COLORADO (10-9, 0-8)
Caylao-Do 2-9 1-1 5, Robinson 4-14 5-5 14, Finau 4-6 1-4 11, Hollingshed 8-14 4-4 20, Jank 3-6 2-3 8, Clarke 1-5 0-0 2, Carter 0-2 0-0 0, Diop 0-0 0-0 0, Volcy 0-0 0-0 0, Tuitele 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 22-57 13-17 60.
California 22 27 21 10 - 80
Colorado 18 13 13 16 - 60
3-point goals - California 11-14 (Smith 4-5, Caldwell 3-4, Thomas 3-3, Brown 1-1, Styles 0-1), Colorado 3-17 (Finau 2-2, Robinson 1-5, Hollingshed 0-4, Clarke 0-2, Carter 0-2, Jank 0-1, Tuitele 0-1). Rebounds - California 35 (Anigwe 11), Colorado 32 (Clarke 7). Assists - California 16 (Smith, Caldwell 4), Colorado 10 (Caylao-Do, Robinson, Finau 2). Steals - California 5 (Brown 2), Colorado 5 (Finau 2). Turnovers - California 12, Colorado 16. Total fouls - California 17, Colorado 15. Fouled out - None. A - 2,303.