CU women’s basketball preview: Washington
MATCHUP: Colorado Buffaloes (10-4, 0-3 Pac-12) at Washington Huskies (7-8, 0-3)
GAME TIME: Friday, 8 p.m. MT, at Alaska Airlines Arena in Seattle, Wash.
BROADCAST: TV — Pac-12 Networks. Radio — KHOW 630 AM
COACHES: Colorado — JR Payne, 3rd season (42-36; 142-149 career). Washington — Jody Wynn, 2nd season (14-31; 151-150 career).
KEY PLAYERS: Colorado – G Quinessa Caylao-Do, Jr., 10.6 ppg, 4.6 rpg; G/F Mya Hollingshed, So., 10.4 ppg, 7.3 rpg; G Kennedy Leonard, Sr., 14.1 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 7.2 apg, 3.1 spg; G Alexis Robinson, Sr., 9.7 ppg, 2.4 rpg; F Peanut Tuitele, Fr., 9.4 ppg, 6.4 rpg. Washington – F Mai-Loni Henson, Jr., 5.3 ppg, 4.7 rpg; F Hannah Johnson, Sr., 5.7 ppg, 5.3 rpg; G Amber Melgoza, Jr., 19.5 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 3.0 apg; G Jenna Moser, Sr., 6.1 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 2.0 apg.; G Missy Peterson, So., 9.1 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 2.3 apg.
NOTABLE: CU has lost three in a row, while Washington is riding a five-game losing streak. … Dating back to last year, Washington has lost 13 consecutive Pac-12 games, while CU has lost its last five. … In the last seven games, six different players have led CU in scoring. … Washington leads the all-time series with the Buffs, 12-10, but CU won both meetings last season. … Leonard ranks 10th in CU history in scoring with 1,580, needing 20 points to become the eighth player in program history with 1,600. … Payne said the Buffs need to do a better job defending the 3-point line, as opponents have hit 41.6 percent (25-of-60) in conference play. Washington attempts 23.7 3-pointers per game. … Freshman Charlotte Whittaker, a 6-foot-4 forward from Cust, New Zealand, joined the Buffs this week. She signed her letter of intent in November and will redshirt this semester. … Former CU freshman Cameron Swartz, who transferred during the holiday break, signed with Boston College this week. She will be eligible to play for the Eagles in January of 2020.
Colorado women’s basketball coach JR Payne never expected her team would lose the first three games of Pac-12 play.
Payne has always been one to focus more on performance than results, however, and as the Buffaloes hit the road this weekend, she is encouraged.
“I actually thought we played really well last weekend,” Payne said. “I was really proud of our resiliency for such a young team. I thought we showed a lot of fight and determination and heart.”
On Friday, the Buffs (10-4, 0-3 Pac-12) will play at Washington (7-8, 0-3) in their first road trip of the conference season.
After a 15-point loss to Utah in the conference opener on Dec. 30, the Buffs played close games at home against Arizona and Arizona State. In both cases, the Buffs played well for 40 minutes before losing in the final seconds.
“We learned really quickly that this is what we’ve been saying all along, which is this game is about details,” Payne said. “It’s a box out here, it’s a screening angle there. It’s not anything monumental, but if you play well, these games will come down to the wire and they’ll come down to one or two possessions. We learned that the hard way.
“Even if hear that, you don’t really believe it until you get burned by it or you get close to being burned by it.”
CU was burned by it twice last weekend, but there’s been a renewed focus on the details this week.
“Every game we’ve been in so far has been pretty close,” sophomore Mya Hollingshed said. “It’s about doing the little things. If we really focus on the details as a team, we should come out with a win.
“Games like those in the conference, they are like playing championship games every day. Playing in this conference puts you to the test every game day, to show what kind of team you are.”
Although 0-3 in the conference, the Buffs have discovered that they are a team that will fight to the end.
The Buffs are also a young team with several players going through the conference for the first or second time. Hollingshed believes the close games are bringing the group, which is already close, even closer.
“We grew as a basketball team and came together,” Hollingshed said. “We fought through a lot of adversity in both of those games. We’re becoming a much more united team as we go along every day, and we’re just learning how to play with each other and learn each other’s weaknesses and strengths.”
As the Buffs do that, Payne is pleased with how they are putting themselves in position to win.
“If we play the way we’re supposed to play, if we do our jobs to the best of our ability, we give ourselves a chance to be successful,” she said.