CU women can’t overcome slow start in loss to Washington State

Fast break

What went right: CU struggled throughout the day, but it’s knack for creating turnovers kept the Buffs in the game. They forced 27 turnovers – 15 on steals – and turned them into 21 points.

What went wrong: From the start, the Buffs looked out of it, falling behind 16-0 after just 4 minutes, 20 seconds. Overall, they hit just 29 percent of their shots and got out-rebounded by 10.

Star of the game: Kennedy Leonard. She made just six of 19 shots, but scored 17 points and pulled down four rebounds.

What’s next: The Pac-12 Tournament in Seattle begins on Thursday.

By the time the Colorado women’s basketball team got going on Saturday, it was too late.

The Buffaloes were buried out of the starting gate and never fully recovered in a 67-56 loss to Washington State at Beasley Coliseum in the regular season finale for both teams.

CU (15-14, 5-13 Pac-12) fell behind 16-0 after just 4 minutes, 20 seconds, and had six turnovers before scoring its first points against the Cougars (11-18, 6-12).

“I thought we played relatively hard (after the slow start), but with that type of deficit, it’s hard to come back against a good team,” CU head coach JR Payne said.

The Buffs sure tried, though.

Sparked by Ariana Freeman, the Buffs closed the gap to 26-22 early in the second quarter. Freeman had six of her eight points in that surge.

The Buffs got within three a couple of times and a Kennedy Leonard layup with 3:05 to play in the fourth quarter made it 58-54 in favor of the Cougars.

Washington State responded with a 7-0 run to put the game away.

CU scored 21 points off 27 Washington State turnovers, but could not overcome another dismal shooting performance (29.0 percent, 20-for-69), 16 turnovers of its own and the Cougars’ 49-39 advantage in rebounds.

“We can’t start like that,” Payne said of the Buffs’ first quarter. “Normally we start really well. For some reason we were really flat. We felt it (at the pregame meal). We felt it in warmups and we’ve got to find a way to not be flat. You can’t play against any teams in this conference and come out with not enough energy and that’s something that as a group we need to be able to do better.”

Leonard finished with 17 points, but had little help offensively. Freeman and Haley Smith both finished with eight points.

Washington State was led by Alexys Swedlund, who had 20 points and seven rebounds.

The Buffs now look ahead to the Pac-12 Tournament next week in Seattle. While the bracket won’t be official until after Sunday’s games, tie-breaker scenarios appear to have the Buffs locked in at No. 10.

“I think we need to re-focus on our job,” Payne said. “So maybe rewind to the basics a little bit. Maybe a readjustment of, we have a new season starting with the conference tournament. Come in with a really positive attitude and really look to get sort of a fresh start.”


CU played without seniors Zoe Beard-Fails and Lauren Huggins, who were both hurt in Thursday’s loss to Washington. Beard-Fails took a forearm to the face against the Huskies, while Huggins aggravated the knee that has kept her out for most of the season. … Washington State’s Nike McClure finished with 12 blocks – the most ever by one player against the Buffs. The previous mark was 11, by UNLV’s Pauline Jordan (1989) and Baylor’s Brittney Griner (2010). Overall, CU had 14 shots blocked.

Washington State 67, Colorado 56

COLORADO (15-14, 5-13 Pac-12)

Ellis 2-7 2-2 6, Robinson 2-6 0-0 6, Leonard 6-19 3-8 17, Correal 0-0 0-0 0, Smith 3-9 1-2 8, Caylao-Do 2-6 0-2 6, Freeman 3-15 2-3 8, Thomas 0-0 0-0 0, Burich 2-7 0-0 5. Totals 20-69 8-17 56.

WASHINGTON STATE (11-18, 6-12)

Hailey 4-10 1-7 10, Kostourkova 3-5 1-2 7, McClure 2-4 2-5 6, Pavlopoulou 4-9 4-6 13, Swedlund 5-12 6-8 20, McKenzie 0-0 0-0 0, Washington 1-1 2-2 4, Muzet 1-1 0-0 3, Kmetovska 2-5 0-0 4. Totals 22-47 16-30 67

3-point goals — CU 8-18 (Robinson 2-4, Leonard 2-4, Caylao-Do 2-5, Burich 1-2, Smith 1-1, Ellis 0-2), WSU 7-18 (Swedlund 4-9, Hailey 1-4, Pavlopoulou 1-4, Muzet 1-1). Rebounds — CU 39 (Smith 8), WSU 49 (McClure 12). Assists — CU 7 (Freeman 3), WSU 13 (Hailey 4). Turnovers — CU 16, WSU 27. Total fouls — CU 24, WSU 14. Fouled out — Ellis, Caylao-Do. A – 712.