What went right: CU shot the ball well (48.4 percent), dominated the boards (40-24) and played with great energy from start to finish.
What went wrong: Not much. The Buffs played one of their most complete games of the season.
Star of the game: Peanut Tuitele. The freshman was dominant in the paint and scored a career-high 23 points, while also pulling down six rebounds.
What's next: The Buffs will host Washington on Sunday at 1 p.m. at CU Events Center.
Peanut Tuitele has had her share of ups and downs during her freshman year with the Colorado women's basketball team.
On Friday, the 6-foot-1 forward was as dominant as she's ever been in a CU uniform, leading the Buffaloes to a 72-61 victory against Washington State at CU Events Center.
Tuitele scored a season-high 23 points and pulled down six rebounds to help the Buffs (12-14, 2-13 Pac-12) climb out of the Pac-12 cellar and win for the second time in their last four games.
"I just think (the key was) preparing in practice and really dialing in and focusing on what we need to do to be successful," Tuitele said, "and also my teammates' parts for feeding me the ball, giving me really good passes and reading the defense. All thanks to them."
Junior Quinessa Caylao-Do had a great game, as well, with 20 points and five rebounds, and senior Kennedy Leonard had 12 points and eight assists in her long-awaited return to the starting lineup.
"I thought we were really competitive all week in practice and, except for the first few minutes of the game, I thought we showed that throughout the entirety of the game," head coach JR Payne said. "We're thrilled to have this type of effort result in a victory."
Tuitele's previous high was 18 points against Pepperdine on Nov. 27. She had scored in double figures six times in 11 nonconference games, averaging 9.5 points in those contents. In Pac-12 play, however, she was averaging just 4.5 points, while also battling injuries. She had scored just 20 points in her previous seven games combined before Friday.
Against the Cougars, Tuitele helped the Buffs rally from a slow start and scored 13 points in the second quarter alone.
The Cougars (9-17, 4-11), who beat CU by 26 points in Pullman, Wash., on Jan. 13, jumped out to a 7-0 lead, prompting Payne to call a timeout just 2 minutes, 41 seconds into the contest.
Coming out of the timeout, the Buffs went on a 12-2 run and settled in from there.
Leonard had missed 10 consecutive games with a foot injury, but came off the bench for 12 minutes Sunday at Arizona. Friday marked her first start since Jan. 6, and she had six of her points during the Buffs' first-quarter run.
"I thought she did great," Payne said. "She kept her composure really well, I thought she found her teammates well, was aggressive when she needed to, managed her fatigue. All of those things were really good."
Led by Tuitele, the Buffs dominated inside, out-scoring the Cougars 46-24 in the paint and out-rebounding them 40-24.
"We always want to be physical," Payne said. "I think whether you are or aren't shows up in the rebounding category. Clearly tonight we were the aggressor and we need to play that way to be successful."
Caylao-Do played well defensively and showed aggressiveness on offense, too. She scored 16 of her 20 points after intermission. She helped the Buffs pull away in fourth, outscoring the Cougars by herself, 8-7, in the final frame.
"I stayed confident," she said. "During halftime, I knew it was really important for us to come out third quarter really strong. Being able to help the team helped me get my energy going and be able to score."
The Buffs played without second-leading scorer Alexis Robinson, who missed her second consecutive game with a knee injury. CU's two seniors — Leonard and Robinson — haven't played in the same game since Jan. 6.
"We just have a really resilient group," Payne said. "We have a tough-minded group that wants to be successful and wants to work for each other. Our effort is really pretty good most nights, our competiveness is good most nights. It's a testament to our leadership that they've helped maintain that level of effort and toughness and togetherness through a difficult stretch."
Leonard moved past Jamillah Lang (1990-94) for ninth on CU's all-time scoring list, with 1,597 points. She needs just three points to pass Bridget Turner (1,599 points from 1985-89) for eighth. ... Caylao-Do reached the 500-point mark for her career is currently at 502.
Colorado 72, Washington State 61
WASHINGTON STATE (9-17, 4-11)
Cha. Molina 4-13 4-4 13, Motuga 1-8 0-0 3, Kostourkova 2-4 0-0 4, Swedlund 3-6 2-2 11, Hristova 7-14 1-1 16, Jones 3-4 0-0 8, Levy 0-1 0-0 0, Che. Molina 0-0 0-0 0, Subasic 3-5 0-0 6. Totals 23-55 7-7 61.
COLORADO (12-14, 2-13)
Tuitele 11-19 0-0 23, Caylao-Do 7-10 6-8 20, Finau 0-1 0-0 0, Leonard 6-14 0-0 12, Hollingshed 2-4 2-2 7, Clarke 2-6 0-0 5, Jank 2-8 0-0 4, Volcy 0-0 1-2 1, Diop 0-0 0-0 0, Carter 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 30-62 9-12 72..
Score by quarters:Washington State 14 21 19 7—61
Colorado 16 22 19 15 — 72
3-point goals — WSU 8-22 (Swedlund 3-4, Jones 2-3, Cha. Molina 1-7, Motuga 1-4, Hristova 1-3, Levy 0-1). Colorado 3-14 (Clarke 1-4, Tuitele 1-3, Hollingshed 1-2, Leonard 0-2, Jank 0-2, Finau 0-1). Rebounds — WSU 24 (Motuga 6), Colorado 40 (Hollingshed 7). Assists — WSU 13 (Cha. Molina, Subasic 3), Colorado 13 (Leonard 8). Steals — WSU 5 (Swedlund 2), Colorado 4 (4 players with 1). Turnovers — WSU 11, Colorado 9. Total fouls — WSU 15, Colorado 12. Fouled out — None. A — 1,925.