Paul Aiken / Staff Photographer
Colorado’s Monica Burich drives to the basket against Arizona State’s Sarah Hattis during their game at Coors Events Center on Sunday.

Fast break

What went right: The Buffs once again showed their fight and competitiveness, even after falling behind by 20 in the second half. CU also did a nice job taking care of the ball in the second half, committing just three turnovers after intermission.

What went wrong: CU could not match the intensity of Arizona State’s defense, or on the glass. ASU out-rebounded the Buffs 49-30, and held them to 31.7 percent shooting (19 of 60).

Star of the game: Kennedy Leonard. She had an off night with shooting, but wound up with 25 points to lead the Buffs.

What’s next: The Buffs host No. 20 California on Friday at 7 p.m. at Coors Events Center.

In trying to climb out of the bottom of the Pac-12 Conference, the Colorado women’s basketball team realizes that tough games will happen.

The Buffaloes also realize that focusing on the positive and trying to improve fixable mistakes will make the climb a bit easier.

On Sunday, a stretch of about five minutes doomed the Buffs as they fell to No. 19 Arizona State, 71-52, at Coors Events Center.

During the first five minutes of the third quarter, ASU (12-3, 3-1 Pac-12) turned an eight-point lead into an 18-point advantage by out-working and out-hustling the Buffs (11-4, 1-3).

“They were making all those extra hustle plays and we just kind of were conceding those (during that stretch),” CU senior Haley Smith said. “They got all the loose balls. They were really asserting themselves offensively and we were a little bit hesitant. It built us a hole that we just weren’t able to get out of.”

One year after going 7-23 overall and 2-16 in the Pac-12, the Buffs and first-year coach JR Payne have a big rebuilding job. That was evident in those five minutes, as ASU, guided by 20-year coach Charli Turner Thorne, displayed its experience and strength.

Under Thorne, the Sun Devils are typically one of top defensive teams in the country and they are known for their scrappy play from start to finish. They put all of that on display against the Buffs.

“It is tough to do that,” Payne said of matching ASU’s style for 40 minutes. “It requires depth and it requires experience and it requires people that have been in those situations time and time again. Charli just does such a great job with that program. That’s such an established culture of who they are and what their brand is, so I think top to bottom their roster is ready to compete, ready to battle for 40 minutes.”

CU is trying to get there.

The Buffs stood toe-to-toe with the Sun Devils in the first half, and even whittled a 20-point second-half deficit down to 13.

“Besides those few minutes (in the third quarter), we were right in there, both offensively and defensively,” said Smith, who had 10 points and six rebounds. “It is a bit frustrating, because we do know we were right there.”

Point guard Kennedy Leonard had 25 points to lead the Buffs, but CU couldn’t match ASU’s strength inside, with 6-foot-4 Quinn Dornstauder (13 points, 12 rebounds) dominating the paint. Overall, ASU had a 49-30 advantage on the glass and outscored the Buffs 34-22 in the paint.

Payne, however, came away from the game encouraged because CU’s shortcoming stemmed from fixable errors.

“A lot of that was us,” she said of the pivotal five-minute stretch of the third quarter. “A lot of that was loose balls, a lot of that was rebounding. Those are things that we can improve.

“I really see a lot of positives in that there are things that we can fix. We just have to make a decision as a group to fix those things.”

Contact staff writer Brian Howell at or

Arizona State 71, CU 52

At Coors Events Center

ARIZONA STATE (12-3, 3-1 Pac-12)

Brunner 7-12 2-2 16, Dornstauder 5-9 3-7 13, Richardson 4-8 4-4 14, Haines 2-7 3-3 8, Ryan 3-9 3-4 9, Russell 2-3 0-0 4, Goodson 1-3 0-0 3, Johnson-Chapman 0-0 0-0 0, Ibis 2-5 0-0 4, Hattis 0-3 0-0 0. Totals 26-59 15-20 71.

CU (11-4, 1-3 Pac-12)

Ellis 0-3 0-0 0, Correal 0-1 0-0 0, Robinson 2-9 3-4 7, Leonard 9-23 5-7 25, Smith 4-11 0-0 10, Caylao-Do 0-0 0-0 0, Watts 0-1 0-2 0, Freeman 2-8 0-2 4, Thomas 0-0 0-0 0, Burich 0-1 2-2 2, Beard-Fails 2-3 0-0 4. Totals 19-60 10-17 52.

Score by quarters:

Arizona State




3-point goals – Arizona State 4-11 (Richardson 2-3, Haines 1-4, Goodson 1-2, Ryan 0-2), Colorado 4-17 (Leonard 2-8, Smith 2-6, Robinson 0-2, Ellis 0-1). Rebounds – Arizona State 49 (Dornstauder 12), Colorado 30 (Smith 6). Assists – Arizona State 14 (Ryan, Ibis 3), Colorado 7 (Robinson, Leonard, Beard-Fails 2). Steals – Arizona State 8 (Haines 3), Colorado 7 (Robinson 2). Total fouls – Arizona State 17, Colorado 23. Fouled out – Ellis. Turnovers – Arizona State 19, Colorado 12. Attendance – 1,886.