What went right: The Buffs pushed the pace from the opening tip, producing a 20-4 advantage in fast-break points and scoring the team’s most points in almost two years.
What went wrong: CU dominated in all facets, though coach JR Payne likely will address the 18 offensive rebounds her team surrendered.
Star of the game: Alexis Robinson. The sophomore guard established new career-highs with 22 points, eight assists, and four steals. She shot 8-for-14 from the floor and 5-for-5 at the free throw line.
What’s next?: The Buffs have a full work week to prepare for No. 19 Kentucky, which visits Saturday at 7 p.m.
JR Payne promised a more up-tempo brand of basketball when she took over the University of Colorado women’s program earlier this year.
And while the returns certainly are incredibly early, the Buffs indeed are showing signs of being a far more entertaining club in 2016-17.
CU put together its second straight high-scoring victory Sunday at the Coors Events Center in the team’s home debut, using superb all-around games from sophomore guards Kennedy Leonard and Alexis Robinson to cruise to a 95-68 win against Air Force.
Two days after an 83-62 season-opening win at Northern Colorado, the Buffs scored their most points in a game since putting up 97 in a win against San Jose State on Dec. 5, 2014.
“Before the game started, we talked about having an offensive game plan that was in two different segments — talking about really pushing tempo in the full court, but then in the half court being disciplined, detail-oriented, and aggressive. I thought we did that,” Payne said. “I thought we were able to push and get easy buckets in transition, but in the half-court we executed and did what we were supposed to do.”
After Leonard and Robinson combined to shoot 20-for-31 from the floor at UNC, with Leonard posting a career-best 26 points, CU’s backcourt duo was equally potent against the Falcons, going a combined 15-for-28. This time it was Robinson who enjoyed the career-best performance, finishing with new personal-highs of 22 points, eight assists, and four steals. The guards also went 10-for-11 at the free throw line.
Leonard finished with 20 points, eight assists, and four steals. Nine different players recorded points for CU, with Ariana Freeman coming off the bench to post 12 points and six rebounds and senior Haley Smith producing a solid stat line of 10 points, four rebounds, three steals, and three blocked shots.
“Usually before games I don’t expect to shoot very good, I kind of like want to play hard and play good defense,” Robinson said. “I think last year we played not to lose, and this year we’re playing to win. I think it’s more fun and the atmosphere we have right now around the team is really good.”
Air Force scored the first four points of the game but CU never trailed after answering with a 10-0 run. The fast-paced Buffs outscored the Falcons 20-4 in transition and steadily built their lead to 31 points midway through the fourth quarter.
After playing their first two games in less than 48 hours, the Buffs now have a full work week to prepare for a visit Saturday from No. 19 Kentucky, a game whose tipoff finally was announced for 7 p.m. after the time for Saturday’s football game against Washington State was announced Sunday morning.
“One thing we were talking about on the bench that we need to do a better job of is we’re getting our hands on balls that we’re not necessarily corralling,” Payne said. “If we get our hand on a ball, we’ve got to be able to bring that it. That’s rebounding, loose balls. That’s something that we’re going to address.”
Pat Rooney: firstname.lastname@example.org or twitter.com/prooney07