The Colorado women’s basketball team finished its season-opening homestand a perfect 3-0 on Sunday. That happened when the Buffaloes weathered an early storm to claim the 86-74 win over North Carolina at the CU Events Center.
Colorado had four players finish in double figures: Sophomore Annika Jank led the squad with 25 points, one off her career-high. She added nine rebounds and two assists, while senior Kennedy Leonard totaled 24 points, going 4-of-4 from long distance. She also handed out eight assists and grabbed five rebounds, while Senior Alexis Robinson and freshman Emma Clarke each finished with 11 points.
“When Annika is hitting, she is hitting,” Leonard said of her teammate. “In the flow of the game, I don’t really think about it too much. Coach J (R Payne) calls the plays and they get the ball to Annika. If she is hitting. then the plays will be called to her and she will hit her shots.”
And the Buffs are glad she did after North Carolina came out as the aggressors early. The Tar Heels jumped on the Buffs in the first three minutes, taking an 11-1 lead. The visitors started 5-of-8 from the field, forcing Colorado into an early timeout.
“Our energy just was not great initially,” Payne said. “After the timeout, I thought our team did a great job in responding. We came out and were aggressive on the glass. We were pushing in transition and we did a lot of really good things after that first timeout.”
That’s when Leonard hit CU’s first field goal of the game, a 3-pointer, with 6:53 to go in the quarter. It was a spark the Buffs needed to get the offense going. Proof came when CU countered with a 9-0 run that brought them back into the contest at 11-10.
The Buffs defense then held UNC to a 1-for-12 effort from the field through the remainder of the first quarter, while they gained a 15-13 lead with Leonard running the fast break.
Colorado improves to 2-1 all-time against North Carolina and 2-0 in Boulder.
Dating back to last season, the Buffs have now won their last five games at the CU Events Center.
The Buffs hit the road next week for the first time this season. They will spend Thanksgiving in Reno, Nev., playing in the Nevada Nugget Classic. CU is slated to take on Nevada on Friday and Utah State on Sunday.