PULLMAN, Wash. – It had been a long time since the Colorado women’s basketball team got a win at Beasley Coliseum, and getting one on Friday wasn’t easy.
Despite some tense moments in the final minute, however, the Buffaloes knocked off host Washington State, 60-57, to snap a seven-game losing streak in this arena and pick up a critical win.
“Wow, I am just really proud of our ballclub,” CU head coach JR Payne said. There were a lot of things we didn’t do well … but there were so many positives.
“Super, super proud of our team for getting this victory, which as we all know is difficult to get in the Palouse.”
Senior Mya Hollingshed had 28 points and 12 rebounds to lead the Buffs (9-9, 7-8 Pac-12), who secured their best conference record in eight years.
CU has won three consecutive Pac-12 games for the first time since the 2012-13 season and got its first win in Pullman since Jan. 7, 2012.
“It feels great,” Hollingshed said. “We were just talking about it in the locker room that we haven’t won here in at least my four years being here, so it always feels good to win on somebody else’s floor. It’s always tough being on the road, so every win counts.”
Getting past the Cougars (9-10, 7-10) took all 40 minutes.
The Buffs never trailed in the second half and opened up a 51-41 lead on an Aubrey Knight jumper with 6 minutes, 34 seconds to play.
Washington State clawed back, however, and made it a one-possession game in the final minute. With 9.6 seconds to go, Wazzu pulled within 58-57, but CU hit 2-of-4 free throws in the last nine seconds.
After going 10-for-12 at the line during the first 39 minutes, CU, which ranks 306th nationally in free throw percentage, was just 3-for-8 in the last 27 seconds.
“It’s an area that we’ll keep working on and just glad that we hit the ones we needed to win,” Payne said.
CU was in that position because it played well, especially on defense, up to that point. The Buffs led 30-29 at halftime and switched to a 2-3 zone defense. That changed the game, as Washington State had almost as many turnovers (six) as points (eight) in the third quarter.
“I thought (assistant coach Toriano Towns) made a great decision to go zone, even though they have a bunch of really good shooters on their team,” Payne said.
Washington State eventually adjusted and got its offense going in the final six minutes, but CU was able to lean on Hollingshed and other veterans, such as juniors Peanut Tuitele (10 points, five rebounds), Knight (11 points, four rebounds) and Sila Finau (four assists, three steals).
That group, along with Tay Jones (10 points) were able to make up for freshman guard Frida Formann struggling offensively. Formann had no points on 0-for-7 shooting.
“We always emphasize that everyone has to step up, no matter if you’re in the game or if you’re on the bench,” Hollingshed said. “It was just a tough night (for Formann). We picked her up and she’s good; she’s gonna bounce back.”
As a team, however, the Buffs will enjoy this one. They jumped over the Cougars into sixth place in the Pac-12 standings, and will likely see an improvement in the NET ranking – a tool used by the NCAA in determining who will play in the NCAA Tournament. CU came into Friday at No. 56, while Washington State was No. 38.
“This was a huge win,” Payne said. “I want our team to know that we can beat anybody.
After leaving Beasley Coliseum, the Buffs were set to fly to Seattle for a Sunday matchup at Washington. Payne said the coaches will focus on the Huskies during the flight, but added, “I hope the team doesn’t think about Washington at all until tomorrow.
“I hope they just enjoy the moment, enjoy each other. A victory like this is such a great team win. … I want them to really, really enjoy the fact that we’re leaving Pullman with a victory, which hasn’t happened in a long time.”
What went right: CU locked down defensively for much of the second half and built a 10-point cushion in the fourth quarter. The Buffs also shot well (44.7 percent) and maintained their composure down the stretch.
What went wrong: The Buffs were out-rebounded 41-30, including a 12-4 disadvantage in the fourth quarter. They also struggled with free throws in crunch time (3-for-8), which gave Washington State a chance until the end.
Star of the game: Mya Hollingshed. She was sensational again, this time with 28 points and 12 rebounds, along with four steals.
What’s next: CU is scheduled to visit Washington on Sunday at 3 p.m. MT.
Colorado 60, Washington State 57
COLORADO (9-9, 7-8 Pac-12)
Jones 2-4 1-1 10, Formann 0-7 0-0 0, Finau 0-2 1-4 1, Hollingshed 11-16 5-8 28, Tuitele 4-8 0-0 10, Kulinska 0-0 0-0 0, Blacksten 0-0 0-0 0, Knight 4-8 2-2 11, Whittaker 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 21-47 13-20 60.
WASHINGTON STATE (9-10, 7-10 Pac-12)
K. Leger-Walker 1-12 0-0 2, C. Leger-Walker 6-15 6-7 21, Motuga 3-8 1-2 8, Teder 4-8 0-0 9, Murekatete 0-5 1-2 1, Jones 2-5 2-4 8, Nankervis 1-1 0-1 2, Levy 1-2 0-0 2, Sarver 1-2 2-3 5. Totals 19-58 12-19 57.
Colorado 17 13 17 17 – 60
Washington St. 16 13 8 20 – 57
3-point goals – Colorado 5-15 (Tuitele 2-3, Hollingshed 1-3, Knight 1-2, Jones 1-1, Formann 0-5, Finau 0-1), WSU 7-28 (C.Leger-Walker 3-7, Jones 2-5, Teder 1-5, Sarver 1-1, K. Leger-Walker 0-7, Motuga 0-2, Levy 0-1). Rebounds – Colorado 30 (Hollingshed 12), WSU 41 (C. Leger-Walker 13). Assists – Colorado 14 (Finau 4), WSU 13 (K. Leger-Walker 4). Steals – Colorado 10 (Hollingshed 4), WSU 7 (C. Leger-Walker 4). Total fouls – Colorado 15, WSU 20. Fouled out – Knight, Teder.