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CU Buffs women searching for spark on offense

Buffs struggled from the field in Friday’s loss

Colorado's Quay Miller gets inside for a short field goal attempt against Arizona State on Friday, Jan. 21, 2022 in Tempe, Ariz. (Nigel Amstock/CU Athletics)
Colorado’s Quay Miller gets inside for a short field goal attempt against Arizona State on Friday, Jan. 21, 2022 in Tempe, Ariz. (Nigel Amstock/CU Athletics)

Throughout the season, the Colorado women’s basketball team has proven to have an elite defense.

Even against the always-tough competition in the Pac-12 Conference, the Buffs have been able to lock down the opposition and make them uncomfortable at times.

On offense, however, the 22nd-ranked Buffaloes have had some struggles, especially recently.

CU (13-3, 2-3 Pac-12) goes into Sunday’s matchup with No. 10 Arizona (13-2, 3-2) looking to snap a three-game losing streak and get its offense back on track.

“We’re not shooting too well from the perimeter and we need to continue to grow in that area,” head coach JR Payne said after Friday’s 57-52 overtime loss at Arizona State. “Our players know that we definitely have confidence in everyone to shoot the ball, but maybe there’s something we can do. Maybe we need to get more shots in practice and things like that.”

The Buffs hit just 32.8 percent of their shots against the Sun Devils, including 23.5 percent from 3-point range (4-of-17). They were also 10-of-21 (47.6 percent) from the free-throw line.

Shooting woes didn’t suddenly show up Friday against ASU. For the season, CU ranks 11th in the Pac-12 in 3-point percentage (30.8) and last in free throw percentage (65.8).

In conference play, the Buffs are 11th on field goals (34.1 percent), last from beyond the arc (26.3) and 11th at the free-throw line (67.2).

Focusing on the positives, Payne said it’s encouraging that the Buffs have had a chance to win each game despite the struggles. They lost by eight to No. 2 Stanford on a night they hit just 29.8 percent from the floor – including 4-for-27 from 3 – and lost in overtime to Oregon State and Arizona State after struggling to score at times.

The Buffs nearly defeated ASU despite 17 missed layups and their struggles at the line.

“That means we’re pretty good at some other things,” Payne said. “Free throws and layups are definitely something that we can improve rapidly. It’s not something that will take three weeks to improve and I think that speaks well for our future.”

CU hopes for rapid improvement Sunday against the Wildcats, who beat Utah, 76-64 on Friday.

“It’s definitely tough (to break out of a slump), but I think we can do it,” freshman Kindyll Wetta said. “We’re so good defensively that I think that if we just lean into that, that’ll really get our offense going. Yeah, it’s tough, but we can do it.”

Arizona is one of the better teams in the country and Payne said the Buffs are eager to get back on the court and find their groove again.

“Very excited,” she said. “Anytime you lose a game like this (at ASU), if we had fresh legs, we’d want to run it back right now because it hurts so much. You feel like you really stubbed your toe when you shouldn’t have, so I think we’re going to be excited to play that game.”

No. 22 CU Buffs women’s basketball at No. 10 Arizona Wildcats

TIPOFF: Sunday, Noon MST, at McKale Center in Tucson, Ariz.

BROADCAST: TV – Pac-12 Network. Radio – 630 AM

RECORDS: Colorado 13-3 (2-3 Pac-12); Arizona 13-2 (3-2 Pac-12)

COACHES: Colorado – JR Payne, 6th season (85-78; 186-191 career). Arizona – Adia Barnes, 6th season (102-68)

KEY PLAYERS: Colorado – G Sila Finau, 5-9, Sr. (4.3 ppg, 2.9 rpg); G Frida Formann, 5-11, So. (8.8 ppg, 1.8 rpg, 1.8 apg); F Mya Hollingshed, 6-3, Sr. (13.5 ppg, 6.7 rpg; 1.6 spg); C Quay Miller, 6-3, Jr. (12.4 ppg, 5.7 rpg); G Jaylyn Sherrod, 5-7, Jr. (8.5 ppg; 2.8 rpg; 3.8 apg, 2.1 spg); F Peanut Tuitele, 6-1, Sr. (6.5 ppg, 3.8 rpg); G Kindyll Wetta, 5-9, Fr. (4.3 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 3.3 apg, 2.5 spg). Arizona – F Ariyah Copeland, 6-3, Sr. (5.5 ppg, 5.3 rpg); G Shaina Pellington, 5-8, Sr. (8.1 ppg, 2.0 rpg, 2.0 apg, 1.3 spg); F Cate Reese, 6-2, Sr. (14.4 ppg, 5.9 rpg); F Sam Thomas, 6-0, Sr. (8.6 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 2.5 apg, 1.3 spg, 1.3 bpg); F Lauren Ware, 6-3, So. (6.3 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 1.7 bpg); G Bendu Yeaney, 5-10, Sr. (6.8 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 2.7 apg, 1.9 spg).

NOTES: CU is looking to snap a three-game losing streak. The Buffs have not lost four in a row since Jan. 30-Feb. 9, 2020. … The Buffs are 17-8 all-time against Arizona, but the Wildcats have won four of the last five meetings. … This is the first time in the series that both teams are ranked in the Associated Press Top 25. … The Buffs are 1-24 in their last 25 games against Top 10 teams. … CU is 1-44 all-time on the road against Top 10 opponents. The Buffs have lost their last 35 since a 73-71 upset at No. 9 Arkansas on Nov. 21, 1995. … Last year’s meeting in Tucson was canceled due to COVID-19. The Wildcats won the lone meeting last season, 62-59, in Boulder on Dec. 18, 2020. Arizona outscored the Buffs 20-8 in the fourth quarter to rally for the win. … For the Buffs, this is the third game of a four-game road swing. The Buffs are 3-2 on the road this season. … Arizona has won 13 consecutive home games and is 7-0 at McKale this season. … Thomas had a season-high 25 points in Arizona’s 76-64 win against Utah on Friday.

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