CU Buffs women’s basketball game postponed

Caution with COVID-19 protocols causes Sunday matchup with ASU to be called off

BOULDER, CO – December 17, 2020: CU head coach, JR Payne, and assistant Toriano Towns, during the Colorado Arizona WBB game in Boulder on December 18, 2020. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

Concerns over possible exposure to COVID-19 led to the Colorado women’s basketball team postponing its game against Arizona State on Sunday.

The Buffs and Sun Devils were slated for tipoff at 2 p.m. at the CU Events Center, but about an hour before the game announced they would not play, despite all players and staff members from both teams having negative COVID-19 tests on Sunday morning.

“It was a potential exposure seven, eight days ago,” CU head coach JR Payne said. “I don’t know if this played into it, but I think the fact that everyone is going to be going home and being on airplanes and around families, I think just the potential of, if there were a positive in the next day or two, that could end up spreading.

“It’s kind of like I think every team that’s had a postponement, it is out of a lot of caution.”

Payne said she and ASU coach Charli Turner Thorne were not part of the discussion about whether to play, as it came down to Pac-12 Conference protocols and the medical teams at both schools.

“The two medical teams at both institutions, they’re the experts,” Payne said. “They’re the ones that understand the science and have the experience and the knowledge. It was their decision, and I didn’t even really question it.”

Throughout the country, numerous games have been canceled or postponed, but this was the first postponement for CU (3-4, 1-3 Pac-12).

“I fully expected this to happen at some point,” Payne said. “I hope it doesn’t happen again, but I also know that that’s probably a slim possibility that we’re going to get through another two months with without any disruptions, maybe a delay, or a postponement like this.”

A make-up date has not been discussed, but when the Pac-12 built its schedule, it gave every team an open date in the final week of the regular season (Feb. 22-28) to allow for rescheduled games.

CU’s next game is scheduled for Jan. 1 at home against Washington. Payne and her staff allowed the players, who haven’t seen their families since the summer, to go home Sunday and return on Friday night. They’ll have time to get a couple practices in before the Washington game.

“When we made the decision to let our team go home, I felt really good about that, based purely on putting their mental health above everything else,” Payne said. “When half of them burst into tears when I told them (they could go home), I 100% knew that was the right decision. They were so happy and so thankful for the opportunity to be with their families, even more so than a normal year so.

“I’m happy they can be with their families and really rest and rejuvenate and get ready to go for the next couple months once they come back.”