EUGENE, Ore. – There were times on Friday afternoon at Matthew Knight Arena that the Colorado women’s basketball team was doing great things.
There just weren’t enough of those stretches.
Playing the earliest conference opener in program history, the Buffaloes fell to three-time defending Pac-12 champion and 10th-ranked Oregon, 82-53.
Despite Oregon being one of the better teams in the country, it was a disappointing result for the Buffs (2-1, 0-1 Pac-12), who have lost six in a row to the Ducks (3-0, 1-0).
“I didn’t think we played great basketball,” head coach JR Payne said. “I thought we played pretty hard, but I didn’t think our execution was great, offensively or defensively, so that was disappointing.”
Peanut Tuitele and Charlotte Whittaker led the Buffs with 10 points each, but CU made just 31.9% of its shots (22-of-69), had 16 turnovers that led to 16 Oregon points and got outscored 36-24 in the paint.
The new-look Ducks lost three players who were among the top eight picks in the WNBA Draft, including last year’s national player of the year, Sabrina Ionescu. They brought in the nation’s top recruiting class, however, and are aiming for a fourth consecutive Pac-12 title.
Nyara Sabally had 20 points and 10 rebounds, while Erin Boley added 17 points and six boards for the Ducks, who pulled away in the second half.
CU trailed 34-26 at halftime, but was outscored 48-27 after the break.
“I thought at times we did a lot of good things,” Payne said. “At times we were fantastic on the glass, but during those same times, we were not so great on the defensive glass. At times we were really doing well in transition offense, but there were times that we were really poor on transition defense. It ebbed and flowed in real positive and then also negative ways.
“The goal is always as a coach to have consistency, but there’s so many great things that you can pull from that game.”
Offensive rebounding proved pivotal in this one.
CU had a 10-0 advantage on second-chance points in the first half. In the second half, Oregon dominated that category, 19-4.
“Their second-chance points in the third quarter absolutely killed us,” Payne said.
CU made a defensive adjustment that worked, but Payne said, “On most of those misses it felt like they were getting an offensive rebound put-back, so it sort of negated the adjustment that we tried to make … and those are always demoralizing.”
The Buffs also struggled to overcome foul trouble by senior Mya Hollingshed. She picked up her third foul with 1:53 to play in the first quarter and played just 20 total minutes before fouling out.
“It was hard with Mya out in the first half and not having our usual bench rotation,” Whittaker said. “But I think we adjusted how we could and I think we fought till the end which is always a good thing.”
Typical for a third a game of the season, the Buffs went deep on their bench (11 players got in the game) and saw some good and bad. For the first time ever, though, the Buffs are trying to work out early-season kinks during conference play – and against the best in the Pac-12.
“I think being the third game, it was really great to get experience,” Whittaker said. “A lot of the freshmen and the transfers that we have, it was their first Pac-12 game, which I think is a great experience and for us to go so deep on the bench. Going into the (remainder of the) season, we just gotta like stay consistent.”
No. 10 Oregon 82, Colorado 53
Colorado 12 14 13 14 — 53
Oregon 20 14 26 22 — 82
3-point goals — Colorado 4-18 (Tuitele 0-3, Finau 2-2, Hollingshed 0-6, Jank 0-1, Whittaker 0-2, Formann 2-4), Oregon 10-22 (Boley 4-8, Sabally 1-1, Mikesell 1-1, Paopao 3-6, Chavez 0-1, Shelley 0-2, Dugalic 0-1, Parrish 0-1, Scherr 1-1). Assists — Colorado 13 (Sherrod 5), Oregon 15 (Paopao 4). Fouled out — Colorado Hollingshed. Rebounds — Colorado 37 (Tuitele 4-5), Oregon 44 (Sabally 4-10). Total fouls — Colorado 20, Oregon 16. Technical fouls — None. A — 1.