FORT COLLINS – When the Colorado women’s basketball team played at Moby Arena in 2017, guard Quinessa Caylao-Do watched from the bench with a broken hand.
Making the return trip on Friday night, Caylao-Do put on a show in leading the Buffaloes to a 79-75 victory against rival Colorado State.
Playing in front of family, the Buffs’ lone senior poured in 22 points – including a huge 3-pointer late in the game – and added three assists to help CU (4-0) remain undefeated.
“I’ve actually never played at Colorado State, so it was a great feeling, and we got the W so I’m excited,” said Caylao-Do, who came within one point of her career high. “I think it was good, especially because I had my family here, so it was a good opportunity.”
Caylao-Do was one of several Buffs to rise to the occasion in a thriller that saw 20 lead changes, including eight in the fourth quarter. Neither team led by more than six at any point.
CU trailed 67-66 before sophomore Sila Finau and Caylao-Do hit back-to-back 3s to give the Buffs a 72-67 lead with 2 minutes to play. A 3-pointer by freshman Jaylyn Sherrod provided a dagger, as it gave CU a 75-69 lead with 31.8 seconds to play.
“It just got us hyped,” Finau said of the late 3s. “It got our energy going and then I think that’s what caused us win this game.”
The Buffs also dominated the boards (33-22), hit 55.1 percent of their shots and got exceptional play from their top three guards, Caylao-Do, Finau (14 points, five assists, five rebounds) and Sherrod (15 points, six assists). Sherrod scored six of her points in the final 32 seconds.
“Different people have done good things on different nights,” CU head coach JR Payne said. “It speaks to our depth a little bit and we need to continue to make everybody feel like they can impact the game.”
The Buffs needed everybody because they played without leading scorer Mya Hollingshed, who made the trip but did not play because of a violation of team rules.
In her place, the Buffs had the guards and others step up. Freshman Charlotte Whittaker had a season-high 11 points and sophomore Aubrey Knight tied her career high with 11 rebounds.
“Basically, we were just all supporting each other and everyone knew that everyone had to step up,” Caylao-Do said. “So I think everyone just did their role as best as they could and it showed on the court.”
The Buffs won their fourth in a row against the Rams (3-3), but this was a much different CSU team. None of the Rams’ five starters played for them last year – as four are transfers, while senior Annie Brady missed last season with an injury.
“This is a really good (CSU) basketball team and they kind of have a lot of secret weapons in that they had a lot of players redshirting last year that are really good basketball players,” Payne said. “Their team kind of transformed very quickly in a year. We knew they shot the 3, so any team that shoots it like that is always in it. We expected it to be an absolute dogfight.”
It was, in part because of those secret weapons, led by Brady’s career-high 26 points. Utah transfers Megan Jacobs (13 points) and Tori Williams (nine points, six assists, five rebounds) and SMU graduate transfer Makenzie Ellis (11 points) were also clutch for the Rams. Ellis, who played her freshman and sophomores seasons at CU, was playing against the Buffs for the first time.
Both teams played well, but it was the young Buffs making the key plays down the stretch.
“(Assistant coach Toriano Towns) told us in the beginning … it’s going to be a game of runs,” Caylao-Do. “It’s our rival, so of course it’s going to be a good game. He just told us to stay calm, play defense, be aggressive, shoot the ball and just be confident.”
What went right: The Buffs shot the ball well (55.1 percent), out-rebounded the Rams (33-21) and kept their poise throughout the night.
What went wrong: CU finished with 17 turnovers, which led to 18 CSU points
Star of the game: Quinessa Caylao-Do. Stellar throughout the game, she finished with 22 points and three assists, while providing leadership on the court.
What’s next: The Buffs host Jacksonville on Sunday at 6 p.m. at CU Events Center.
Colorado 79, Colorado State 75
Tuitele 3-6 0-0 6, Caylao-Do 7-10 5-6 22, Clarke 2-8 0-0 5, Finau 4-5 4-7 14, Knight 1-3 1-2 3, Sherrod 4-8 5-6 15, Whittaker 5-6 0-0 11, Jank 1-3 0-0 3, Volcy 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 27-49 15-21 79.
COLORADO STATE (3-3)
Jacobs 4-6 2-2 13, Ellis 5-11 0-0 11, Bonnarens 0-4 0-0 0, Brady 10-19 2-5 26, Williams 3-6 2-2 9, Davis 3-5 2-2 8, Stamatelopoulos 2-4 4-6 8, Brocke 0-1 0-0 0, Mole 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 27-56 12-17 75
Colorado 18 18 15 28 – 79
Colorado St. 14 23 12 26 – 75
3-point goals – Colorado 10-21 (Caylao-Do 3-4, Sherrod 2-5, Finau 2-2, Clarke 1-3, Jank 1-2, Whittaker 1-1, Tuitele 0-2, Knight 0-2), CSU 9-19 (Brady 4-8, Jacobs 3-4, Williams 1-2, Ellis 1-1, Bonnarens 0-3, Stamatelopoulos 0-1). Rebounds – Colorado 33 (Knight 11), CSU 21 (Brady 6). Assists – Colorado 17 (Sherrod 6), CSU 13 (Williams 6). Steals – Colorado 5 (Tuitele, Finau 2), CSU 6 (Brady, Williams 2). Turnovers – Colorado 17, CSU 10. Total fouls – Colorado 19, CSU 16. Fouled out – Ellis. A – 1,194.