COLLIERVILLE, Tenn. – Head coach JR Payne and the Colorado women’s basketball team lost a game on Monday night, but that was hardly the only thought on their minds.
As the Buffaloes boarded the bus to head to My Town Movers Fieldhouse to play their game against Mississippi in the Women’s NIT, they learned of the tragic news in Boulder.
Ten people, including Boulder police officer Eric Talley, were killed in a mass shooting at a King Soopers in South Boulder.
Following CU’s 65-56 loss to Mississippi, Payne didn’t know all the details, but the tragedy was the first thought on her mind when she started her postgame press conference.
“I just want to make sure that I share that my thoughts and prayers and our team’s thoughts and prayers are with everyone in Boulder right now,” she said. “I know it’s been a very difficult day with things that are far bigger than basketball. While I’m disappointed in the game, I want to first just share that definitely our hearts are back in Boulder with all of our community right now.”
Details of the shooting were unknown when the Buffs took the court at 6 p.m. MT, but the team did know there was a tragic situation unfolding in their hometown. Payne said the staff did its best to focus the team on the game.
The Buffs got through the game and it was a disappointing loss to end their season, but Payne said, “There’s so many things that are much bigger than basketball, and so, while I’m proud of how we played, we certainly are heartbroken and really pretty devastated for Colorado and the Boulder community.”
Junior Peanut Tuitele said that the shooting was on her mind throughout the game, despite the team not knowing many details.
“I know so many people in Boulder and I’m just praying for all the families and people who were affected by the shooting, because … multiple lives (were taken),” she said. “That was really hard in my heart. … I’m just praying for all the families in Boulder, and for everyone’s safety.”
CU athletic director Rick George, who was in Indianapolis with the men’s basketball team, tweeted Monday night: “I am deeply saddened to see the tragic events that occurred in Boulder today. Our heart goes out to those who lost their lives, their families and those affected by this tragedy in any way. Together, as Buffs, we stand with our community as we mourn this tragedy.”