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CU Buffs women’s basketball opens with victory

Mya Hollingshed scores 22 points as Buffaloes knock off NJIT

BOULDER, CO – November 10, 2019: Colorado’s Jaylyn Sherrod drive through the lane against NJIT during the season opener for the University of Colorado NCAA Women’s game against New Jersy Institute of Technology on November 10. 2019. (Photo by Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

Season openers typically aren’t the most aesthetically pleasing games to watch, but for the Colorado women’s basketball team, Sunday’s debut was a good starting point.

“Even if it’s not beautiful, it was a win,” head coach JR Payne said after her team’s 80-57 victory over New Jersey Institute at CU Events Center. “I didn’t think we played particularly well, but there’s a lot of good things that you can take from this ball game that we did tonight. And, early games are just that: they’re early games, so there’s going to be things that look good and things that we really need to improve.”

Junior Mya Hollingshed had a game-high 22 points and a career-high five steals for the Buffs, who won their 20th consecutive season opener.

Quinessa Caylao-Do added 12 points, while Peanut Tuitele and Sila Finau each scored 10. Freshman point guard Jaylyn Sherrod came off the bench and racked up 11 assists – tied for the second most in CU history for a debut.

Hollingshed, who averaged 10.8 points a year ago, was just two points shy of her career high. She was 8-for-12 from the floor, doing most of her damage in the paint.

“I was just taking what was there; not forcing it, keeping it simple and just doing the things that I work on every day,” she said. “It was definitely fun just to go out there with my team and just do the things that we’ve been practicing and executing in practice. To make it count for the first time made it even more special.”

CU was never really in danger of losing to the Highlanders (0-3), but didn’t pull away until the fourth quarter. NJIT was 12-for-30 from 3-point range and hit 37.5 of its shots, but went just 1-for-10 in the fourth, including 0-for-7 from 3.

“I think we ramped it up on defense, trying to get our hands in and box out more and just give more effort,” sophomore Emma Clarke said of the fourth quarter.

Clarke finished with nine points and a team-high seven rebounds for the Buffs.

“This week, one of the key goals to win the game was rebounding, so I really took that and really wanted to apply it,” she said. “I just really wanted to step it up and just help the team secure the ball so we could go in transition or get a defensive stop.”

Sherrod, meanwhile, had a debut to remember. Her 11 assists were the most in a CU debut since Lori Mills’ 14 against BYU on Nov. 18, 1983. The only other debut with 11 was Ann Troyan’s effort against Colorado State on Nov. 16, 1979.

Sherrod had just one turnover and added six points, hitting three of eight shots.

“What I was most impressed with for a young point guard was that her shots weren’t falling tonight, but she didn’t hang her head,” Payne said. “She didn’t stop doing everything else. She continued to have great presence defensively. For her to have 11 assists and one turnover as a freshman is great. I just love both of our point guards (Sherrod and Finau). They both bring such a really good dynamic to our offense and she was no different tonight.”

As for things to work on in practice, the Buffs did outrebound the Highlanders, but only by one (37-36); their 3-point defense struggled early; and they made just 11 of 23 free throws.

“A lot of coaches talk about keys to winning a ball game is taking care of the ball, rebounding and making free throws,” Payne said. “Two of those three we didn’t do particularly well tonight, but those are things that we can improve.”

Notable

CU is 41-5 all-time in season openers. … The Buffs had 15 steals and only 10 turnovers. … Finau scored in double digits for the third time in her career and her three 3-pointers were a career-high. … The Buffs host Wisconsin on Thursday at 7 p.m.

Colorado 80, NJIT 57

NJIT (0-3)

Fux 1-7 1-4 3, Squier 2-3 0-0 5, Martin 1-3 2-2 4, Tunstall 3-9 2-4 9, Stoll 4-9 2-2 14, Evans 5-9 0-0 14, Schultz 2-5 2-2 8, Cash 0-0 0-0 0, Dalrymple 0-3 0-0 0. Totals 18-48 9-14 57.

COLORADO (1-0)

Tuitele 4-9 2-2 10, Caylao-Do 4-8 2-6 12, Clarke 4-10 0-0 9, Finau 3-6 1-2 10, Hollingshed 8-12 5-8 22, Sherrod 3-8 0-1 6, Whittaker 1-5 1-2 3, Knight 3-3 0-2 6, Jank 1-6 0-0 2, Volcy 0-0 0-0 0, Kulinska 0-0 0-0 0, Smith 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 31-67 11-23 80.

NJIT                            15        14        21        7          –           67

Colorado                     20        21        21        18        –           80

3-point goals – NJIT 12-30 (Evans 4-8, Stoll 4-7, Schultz 2-4, Tunstall 1-5, Squier 1-1, Fux 0-2, Dalrymple 0-2, Martin 0-1), Colorado 7-18 (Finau 3-5, Caylao-Do 2-3, Clarke 1-4, Hollingshed 1-3, Tuitele 0-1, Sherrod 0-1, Jank 0-1). Rebounds – NJIT 36 (Tunstall 9), Colorado 37 (Clarke 7). Assists – NJIT 14 (Tunstall 4), Colorado 23 (Sherrod 11). Steals – NJIT 8 (Tunstall 4), Colorado 15 (Hollingshed 5). Turnovers – NJIT 26, Colorado 10. Total fouls – NJIT 15, Colorado 16. Fouled out – None. A – 1,436.