Women’s basketball: Leonard sets record, but CU Buffs fall to Utah

  • Paul Aiken / Staff Photographer

    University of Colorado's Kennedy Leonard, second from left, makes a pass to Peanut Tuitele while Utah's Dru Gylten and Niyah Becker defend Sunday at the CU Events Center.

  • Paul Aiken / Staff Photographer

    University of Colorado's Annika Jank, right, fends off Utah's Megan Huff as she drives to the basket at the CU Events Center on Sunday.

  • Paul Aiken / Staff Photographer

    University of Colorado's Kennedy Leonard makes a long pass against Utah at the CU Events Center on Sunday.

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Fast break

What went right: CU was able to get to the line and hit free throws, shot the ball fairly well in the first half and limited its turnovers.

What went wrong: Utah was lights-out from beyond the 3-point line (13-for-22) and out-rebounded the Buffs 43-35. The Utes turned 15 offensive rebounds into 17 second-chance points.

Star of the game: Kennedy Leonard. The senior point guard had 13 points, seven rebounds and six assists — passing Bridget Turner for the CU career record for assists.

What’s next: The Buffs are slated to host Arizona on Friday at CU Events Center at 7 p.m.

Becoming a school’s all-time leader in a major category should be cause for celebration.

Colorado’s Kennedy Leonard was hardly in the mood for that Sunday, however. On the day she set the program record for career assists, Leonard and the Buffs were unable to knock off visiting Utah, falling 76-61 at CU Events Center.

“I don’t really care (about the record); we lost,” Leonard said. “I don’t really play basketball for records and stuff like that. I play to win, and we didn’t win. It’s cool, but I’d rather win.”

Leonard put together another solid statistical performance — 13 points, seven rebounds and six assists — and increased her career total to 615 assists. She topped the previous record of 612, set by Bridget Turner from 1985-89.

On this day, however, what mattered most was that CU (10-2, 0-1 Pac-12) lost its conference opener, failing to take advantage of playing at home against the Utes (12-0, 1-0).

“For those of us that have been in the Pac-12, we know you have to take care of business at home,” CU head coach JR Payne said. “This just means we have to go steal one on the road at some point.”

Utah stole this road game because it was red-hot from the outside and dominated the offensive glass.

The Utes have been a solid 3-point shooting team this season, but not like they were against the Buffs. They went 8-for-11 beyond the arc in the first half and 13-for-22 overall.

Freshman Andrea Torres led the way with 18 points and 4-for-7 shooting from 3-point range. She came into the game averaging 3.2 points and had hit six 3s all season.

“We definitely knew she was a shooter,” Payne said. “The hard thing is when everyone is hitting. I thought because they were all hitting so effectively, that’s what made it harder.”

Despite Utah’s hot shooting early, the Buffs were down by just six at halftime. In the second half, however, the Utes kept hitting 3s and dominated the glass. Ten of Utah’s 15 offensive rebounds came after intermission. For the game, Utah had a 17-6 advantage in second-chance points.

“As a whole, I thought Utah outplayed us today, from the rebounding to loose balls,” Payne said. “I think if went back and (charted stats), they won those toughness categories, and then shot the absolute lights out of it. They don’t typically shoot the ball that well. The way they were shooting the ball, combined with the offensive rebounding, they made it difficult for us to close that gap.”

The Buffs kept battling and several times cut the deficit to single digits, but Utah pulled away late.

“It’s virtually impossible to compete with a team shooting … so well,” Leonard said. “I don’t necessarily think we played bad defense. I think they were just hitting shots.”

Notable

Freshman wing Cameron Swartz left the CU program. Swartz, from Marietta, Ga., went home for the Christmas break and did not return. Instead, she informed Payne that she wanted to transfer. Swartz played in seven games, scoring 22 points in 46 minutes. … Alexis Robinson went 3-for-6 from 3-point range and moved into eighth in CU history for career 3-pointers made (151).

 

Utah 76, Colorado 61

UTAH (12-0)

Huff 5-15 0-0 13, Gylten 4-10 1-2 10, Bean 1-8 0-0 2, Provo 3-7 1-1 9, Edwards 7-14 0-0 14, Moore 2-5 1-2 7, Becker 1-2 0-0 3, Torres 7-11 0-0 18. Totals 30-72 3-5 76.

COLORADO (10-2)

Caylao-Do 3-6 0-2 7, Robinson 4-11 3-5 14, Leonard 4-13 5-5 13, Hollingshed 4-11 2-2 10, Tuitele 4-6 2-2 10, Clarke 1-3 0-0 2, Diop 0-0 0-0 0, Jank 2-6 1-1 5, Volcy 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 22-56 13-17 61.

Utah 21 20 15 20 – 76

Colorado 18 17 14 12 – 61

3-point goals – Utah 13-22 (Torres 4-7, Huff 3-5, Moore 2-4, Provo 2-2, Gylten 1-2, Becker 1-2), Colorado 4-17 (Robinson 3-6, Caylao-Do 1-1, Hollingshed 0-3, Jank 0-3, Leonard 0-2, Tuitele 0-1, Clarke 0-1). Rebounds – Utah 43 (Huff 13), Colorado 35 (Hollingshed 8). Assists – Utah 17 (Gylten, Bean 5), Colorado 11 (Leonard 6). Steals – Utah 5 (Huff 2), Colorado 5 (Robinson, Leonard 2). Turnovers – Utah 9, Colorado 12. Total fouls – Utah 14, Colorado 9. Fouled out – None. A – 2,277.

Contact staff writer Brian Howell at howellb@dailycamera.com or twitter.com/BrianHowell33.