CU women’s basketball preview: No. 10 Washington
MATCHUP: Washington Huskies (21-3, 9-2 Pac-12) at Colorado Buffaloes (13-9, 3-8 Pac-12)
GAME TIME: Sunday, Noon, at Coors Events Center in Boulder
BROADCAST: TV – Pac-12 Networks. Radio – ESPN 1600 AM
COACHES: Colorado – JR Payne, 1st season (13-9 at CU; 114-122 career). Washington – Mike Neighbors, 4th season (90-38 at UW and career).
LEADERS: Colorado – Scoring: G Kennedy Leonard, So., 18.6 ppg; Rebounding: F Haley Smith, Sr., 6.2 rpg; Assists: Leonard, 5.6 apg. Washington – Scoring: G Kelsey Plum, Sr., 31.0 ppg; Rebounding: F/C Chantel Osahor, Sr., 14.8 rpg; Assists: Plum, 5.0 apg.
NOTABLE: CU is 8-10 all-time against the Huskies, including 0-7 over the past three seasons. The Buffs haven’t defeated Washington since Plum was in high school. … The Buffs have already topped their Pac-12 win total from a year ago, when they went 2-16. … CU has not won back-to-back Pac-12 games since the first two rounds of the conference tournament in 2015. … Plum leads the country in scoring (5.9 ppg more than anyone else) and is the all-time leading scorer in Pac-12 history. … Plum has scored 30-plus points 12 times, including four games where she had 44 (her career high). … Osahor, who leads the country in rebounding, has had 20-plus rebounds six times this season, including 20 in Friday’s win against Utah.
Colorado women’s basketball coach JR Payne had barely had a chance to catch her breath after her team’s thrilling comeback victory against Washington State on Friday when she was asked about the next opponent.
“Can’t we just talk about tonight?,” Payne joked after her team’s 70-58 victory against Washington State, a game which CU erased a 14-point deficit in the final 12 minutes.
Whatever celebrating the Buffaloes (13-9, 3-8 Pac-12) did following Friday’s win was quickly replaced Saturday by the realization of what’s ahead. On Sunday, No. 10 Washington (21-3, 9-2) will visit Boulder, fresh off an 82-53 win at Utah.
“Washington is fantastic,” Payne said. “They’re really balanced. They have a lot of different weapons. It’ll be a tremendous challenge and it’ll be a lot of fun.”
No weapon is more dangerous than Kelsey Plum, the senior guard who is leading the nation with 31 points per game. Already the Pac-12’s all-time leading scorer, Plum is one of the most talented guards in the country, scoring at least 21 points in each game.
Chantel Osahor might be just as dangerous, in a different way. The thick, 6-foot-2 forward/center leads the country with 14.8 rebounds per game, while also scoring 15.3 points per contest. Known for her rebounding, as well as her flat-footed 3-pointers, she has drained 32 shots from beyond the arc this season.
Junior Natalie Romeo (9.8 ppg) and freshman Aarion McDonald (9.3) are also scoring threats for the Pac-12’s top scoring offense.
CU, on the other hand, is hoping to ride some momentum from Friday. The Buffs trailed by 14 with under 12 minutes to play and outscored Washington State 38-12 the rest of the way to get the win.
Win the win, the Buffs topped their Pac-12 win total from a year ago, when they were 2-16 in conference play.
“Winning is fun, playing together is fun; winning like that like we just did is fun,” said sophomore guard Kennedy Leonard, who had 25 points. “It means everything is paying off. We’re working hard.
“Not everything is always going to go in our direction, but if we keep on working and keep on getting after it, everything will fall into place. We just have keep getting after it, keep going to work, and keep getting better every day.”
Brian Howell: firstname.lastname@example.org, on Twitter: @BrianHowell33.