For about three weeks, the Colorado women’s basketball team struggled to find wins and to do the things that produced a hot start to the season.
During the past two weeks, however, the Buffaloes have rediscovered the winning formula.
On Sunday, CU (17-7, 6-7 Pac-12) will visit Southern California (11-13, 4-10) with the goal of continuing their solid play of late. Following a 1-6 stretch from Jan. 14-Feb. 4, the Buffs have won three out of four games, including an impressive, 67-54 victory at UCLA on Friday.
“It’s a lot of good energy, a lot of excitement,” senior Mya Hollingshed said. “We’re playing a lot looser, I feel like.
“During that 1-6 stretch, we had tough games. We knew after we watched the film, we were doing a lot of things that were really out of character for us. If we just held down a few execution points defensively and offensively, there were some games we would have won. A few we were actually ahead, but it’s just about literally executing down the floor, ending the game, finishing the game out, and then always rebound.”
Except for the second half at No. 2 Stanford on Feb. 13, the Buffs have executed well during the last four games. It couldn’t come at a better time, as the Buffs are striving to finish strong and secure a spot in the NCAA Tournament.
After Friday’s win, the Buffs moved up to No. 32 in the NET rankings, a tool that will be used in settling the 68-team NCAA Tournament field.
“It’s fantastic to see them respond and play that way,” head coach JR Payne said of her team showing a sense of urgency. “I don’t really feel like I have to do much right now. I feel like our seniors, our leaders, our veterans, they’re really pushing the envelope as far as focus, attention to detail, expecting great reps out of each other in practice, communicating with the scout.
“Our team is really taking the lead on what we need to be doing and what that should look like. So I give them the credit for holding themselves to a very high standard right now.”
The Buffs, of course, will need to maintain that high standard on Sunday. While USC has struggled at times this season, the Trojans have won two out of three and routed Utah – which is No. 26 in the NET – on Friday.
“USC has been playing well,” Payne said. “That’s a huge win to beat Utah. I think they’re one of the most talented teams in the league. They have that great young depth and Jordyn Jenkins is as good a player as anybody in this conference right now. I think they’re really good and really talented and they’re a very dangerous ballclub.”
Record in sight
On Sunday, Hollingshed is slated to play in her 135th career game with the Buffs, which would give her the all-time program record. She’s currently tied with Rachel Hargis (2010-14) with 134.
“I just think about all the players that were here, like Brittany Spears, Lisa VanGoor,” Hollingshed said. “For me to be the first (on that list), I really don’t know how it feels.”
Hollingshed is also just 12 points away from 1,600 for her career and continues to climb the ladder in several major categories.
“I think on senior night when I get to that and they list all the accolades, I think it’ll hit me again and I’ll be so appreciative of CU just because they gave me the opportunity to grow, really,” she said. “I had a chance to blossom, grow my game. These coaches, they call me their kid. I just love being around them because they make me better. I’ll feel it all one day.”
CU Buffs women’s basketball at USC Trojans
TIPOFF: Sunday, 2 p.m., MST, at the Galen Center in Los Angeles, Calif.
BROADCAST: TV – Pac-12 Network. Radio – 630 AM
RECORDS: Colorado 17-7 (6-7 Pac-12); USC 11-13 (4-10 Pac-12)
COACHES: Colorado – JR Payne, 6th season (89-82; 190-195 career). USC – Lindsay Gottlieb, 1st season (11-13; 246-141 career).
KEY PLAYERS: Colorado – G Sila Finau, 5-9, Sr. (4.1 ppg, 2.9 rpg); G Frida Formann, 5-11, So. (7.7 ppg, 1.6 rpg, 1.5 apg); F Mya Hollingshed, 6-3, Sr. (14.3 ppg, 7.1 rpg; 1.2 spg, 1.0 bpg); C Quay Miller, 6-3, Jr. (11.3 ppg, 5.3 rpg); G Jaylyn Sherrod, 5-7, Jr. (7.4 ppg; 2.5 rpg; 3.8 apg, 1.9 spg); F Peanut Tuitele, 6-1, Sr. (7.2 ppg, 3.6 rpg); G Kindyll Wetta, 5-9, Fr. (3.8 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 3.1 apg, 2.3 spg). USC – G Desiree Caldwell, 5-8, Sr. (3.7 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 3.2 apg); F Jordyn Jenkins, 6-2, So. (15.3 ppg, 6.8 rpg); G/F Rayah Marshall, 6-4, Fr. (10.5 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 1.3 spg, 2.3 bpg); F Alissa Pili, 6-0, Jr. (7.9 ppg, 4.6 rpg); G Tera Reed, 6-0, Sr. (6.0 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 3.3 apg); F Jordan Sanders, 5-11, Sr. (12.4 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 1.8 spg).
NOTES: The Buffs snapped an 11-game losing streak in Los Angeles with a 67-54 win against UCLA on Friday. Mya Hollinghed had 19 points in the victory. … Since joining the Pac-12 in 2011, the Buffs have never swept the weekend set in Los Angeles. … CU is 10-15 all-time against the Trojans, including 2-9 on the road. The Buffs have lost their last seven in the Galen Center, dating back to a 65-49 victory on Feb. 3, 2013. … The Buffs have won the last two meetings with USC, both in Boulder, including a 71-58 win on Jan. 7 in the Pac-12 opener. … This is the fourth game of a four-game road swing for the Buffs. They are 2-1 on this swing and 6-4 on the road this season. They have clinched at least a .500 road record for the first time since the 2012-13 season. … Hollingshed has 1,588 career points and needs 12 to surpass Jamillah Lang (1,596 from 1990-94) and Bridget Turner (1,599 from 1985-89) for ninth on CU’s career list. … USC routed Utah, 83-62, on Friday. The Trojans led by 32 going into the fourth quarter. Sanders had 24 points, while Marshall had 18 points and 10 rebounds. … Jenkins was named the Pac-12 Player of the Week on Monday. … The Trojans have won two of their last three games after a seven-game losing streak.