SEATTLE – Early in the fourth quarter on Sunday, the Colorado women’s basketball team was on its way to a relatively easy win.
CU, however, has seemingly never had an easy time with the Washington Huskies.
At Alaska Airlines Arena, the Buffaloes coughed up a big lead, but held on to beat the Huskies, 55-50, and win their fourth game in a row.
CU (10-9, 8-8 Pac-12) has its longest conference winning streak in eight years and swept a weekend road trip for the first time since March 1-3, 2013, at the Oregon schools.
“It really isn’t (easy against Washington),” CU head coach JR Payne said. “It was tough down the stretch, and it’s even harder when you only have 24 hours to prepare for them. In hindsight, maybe we should have taken more time earlier in the week to try to prepare for them but irregardless, we held on down the stretch which I’m sure thankful for.”
Freshman Frida Formann led the Buffs with 17 points and six rebounds, while Mya Hollingshed had 12 points, scoring half of those at the free throw line in the final 1 minute, 47 seconds. Held in check most of the day, Hollingshed was 6-for-6 at the line late in the fourth.
“We definitely wanted the ball in Mya’s hands down the stretch because she’s a very confident free throw shooter,” Payne said.
It didn’t appear the game would come down to clutch free throws, because the Buffs built a 17-point lead late in the third quarter. Washington then pulled within 11 before the Buffs’ Zuzanna Kulinska came off the bench and drilled back-to-back 3s to get the lead back to 17 with 8:43 to go.
Payne said she watched Kulinska hit about seven consecutive 3s in warm-ups and “in my head I’m like, ‘OK, if we’re struggling to score, let’s get Zuza in the game and just see if she can knock down one of those shots like she had been in warm ups and, boy, she hit two big ones.”
The Buffs went cold after that, however, as Washington went on a 17-2 run to pull within 47-45 with 2:12 to go.
“I think they just went and pressured us and we didn’t really respond very well at first,” Formann said. “We kind of got frantic in our offense and let them speed us up, and then they hit some bit shots down the stretch.
“Where we’ve grown, too, is we kept coming back to what we knew we had to do and took care of it at the end.”
Hollingshed’s three throws – and two from Formann – were enough to help CU pull away. It was the second time in three days that CU closed out a tight win on the road. They knocked off Washington State, 60-57, on Friday.
“It was really, really big,” Formann said. “We have some really big games coming up when we play the (Pac-12) tournament, too, and it’s nice to know we can finish games like this. In both games we might have let them come back a little more than we wanted to, so there’s still plenty to fix, but it’s always nice to be in close games and then come out on top instead of the opposite.
“I’m really just proud of us for doing that twice this weekend.”
CU had 23 turnovers. This was the fourth consecutive time CU has played Washington and finished with at least 20 turnovers. … In CU’s last 31 games, it has had 20-plus turnovers in just four games: three times against Washington and once against everyone else. … Hollingshed passed the 1,200-point mark for her career (1,207), moving into 22nd in program history. … Junior Sila Finau had a career-high six steals.
What went right: Colorado’s defense was stellar for most of the day, holding Washington to 39.2 percent shooting and forcing 21 turnovers. The Huskies had just 26 points through three quarters.
What went wrong: Although the Buffs shot the ball well (48.7 percent), they had 23 turnovers and never seemed to get to a rhythm offensively. Defensively, they had a lapse in the fourth quarter that let Washington back in the game, and they got beat on the boards.
Star of the game: Frida Formann. The freshman finished with 17 points and six rebounds.
What’s next: CU’s next scheduled game is Feb. 28 at Utah.
Colorado 55, Washington 50
COLORADO (10-9, 8-8 Pac-12)
Jones 0-1 0-0 0, Formann 5-10 4-4 17, Finau 3-5 0-0 7, Hollingshed 3-10 6-8 12, Tuitele 2-3 1-1 5, Kulinska 2-3 0-0 6, Knight 1-3 0-0 2, Whittaker 3-4 0-0 6. Totals 19-39 11-13 55.
WASHINGTON (6-11, 3-11 Pac-12)
Miller 0-6 0-0 0, Van Dyke 7-13 0-0 16, Lowery 0-3 0-0 0, Rooks 0-4 0-0 0, Griggsby 0-5 0-0 0, Sadler 6-9 4-4 17, Finney 0-0 0-0 0, Whitfield 0-1 0-0 0, Lind 1-1 0-0 3, Rees 6-9 1-2 14. Totals 20-51 5-6 50.
Colorado 13 12 14 16 – 55
Washington 9 9 8 24 – 50
3-point goals – Colorado 6-14 (Formann 3-5, Kulinska 2-2, Finau 1-3, Hollingshed 0-3, Jones 0-1), Washington 5-25 (Van Dyke 2-4, Rees 1-4, Sadler 1-2, Lind 1-1, Griggsby 0-5, Rooks 0-4, Miller 0-2, Lowery 0-2, Whitfield 0-1). Rebounds – Colorado 22 (Formann 6), Washington 27 (Miller 8). Assists – Colorado 7 (Formann, Hollingshed 2), Washington 9 (Miller, Sadler 3). Steals – Colorado 14 (Finau 6), Washington 10 (Miller, Van Dyke 3). Turnovers – Colorado 23, Washington 21. Total fouls – Colorado 11, Washington 14. Fouled out – None.