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Freshmen building confidence, help CU Buffs women’s basketball rout Southern Utah

Colorado's Brianna McLeod shoots over Southern Utahs' Lizzy Wiliamson during Wednesday's home game. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)
Colorado’s Brianna McLeod shoots over Southern Utahs’ Lizzy Wiliamson during Wednesday’s home game. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)
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With several starters and key rotational players back from last year, the Colorado women’s basketball team relies heavily on its veterans.

The Buffaloes have a pair of freshmen, however, that continue to make significant contributions and they did so again on Wednesday in a 78-48 rout of Southern Utah at the CU Events Center.

Jada Wynn scored 11 points and pulled down five rebounds, while Brianna McLeod posted six points and four rebounds in helping the Buffs (8-2) to a fourth consecutive victory.

“The truth is, we need them,” CU head coach JR Payne said. “We need them to come in and contribute the way that they did tonight. I think we are a much better ballclub when they play like that, with confidence and aggressiveness and don’t hang their head and just keep playing. We’re really good team like that.”

CU fought through a sluggish start to pull away from the Thunderbirds (3-6) in the second quarter. Senior Quay Miller had a team-high 13 points, junior Frida Formann added 11 and sophomore Aaronette Vonleh scored 12 and had a team-high seven rebounds. Veteran point guards Jaylyn Sherrod and Kindyll Wetta added nine points, 12 assists and no turnovers between them.

BOULDER,CO:December 7:Colorado Buffaloes' Quay Miller makes room to shoot against Southern Utah in NCAA basketball on December 7, 2022.(Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)
BOULDER,CO:December 7:Colorado Buffaloes’ Quay Miller makes room to shoot against Southern Utah in NCAA basketball on December 7, 2022.(Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

McLeod and Wynn, meanwhile, continue to boost their confidence as role players off the bench.

McLeod averages about 10 minutes per game, but continues to make her time efficient. In her 16 minutes on Wednesday, she went 3-of-4 from the field and set the tone early for the Buffs on the offensive glass. She finished with a team-best three offensive rebounds.

“It means a lot (to contribute), to be honest, just because we’re young,” said McLeod, who averaged 3.4 points and 2.4 rebounds. “Everybody says, like, ‘Oh, freshmen don’t really play a lot. You’ve got to play behind people. You’ve got to earn your stripes.’ It just means a lot to me that I can get in so early and contribute and that coach trusts me enough to put me in and believes in my abilities.”

CU always penciled Wynn in for a key role because of her shooting talent and she has lived up that.

Wynn, who averages 6.4 points, improved her 3-point percentage to .375 after going 3-for-6 against Southern Utah.

“I think it also helps having those veterans in front of you that can kind of guide you,” said Wynn, who had scored in double figures three times, led by Wednesday’s 11-point outing. “They help you limit those freshman mistakes and then just having coaches and teammates that trust you in the game definitely builds your confidence.”

CU likely would have rolled to a win on Wednesday without the freshmen, but their performances against SUU provided further evidence that they can be counted on when the Buffs’ schedule gets tougher. CU’s next game is the Pac-12 opener against Utah on Dec. 14.

“As a coach, I always believe in them and I always want them to believe in themselves as much as I believe in them,” Payne said. “I see the mistakes in ways of like, ‘Oh, that’s something we can fix.’ Sometimes as young players, they see their mistakes as pretty detrimental. … For me, I just want them to move on and just learn from it, and let’s keep moving. These two are doing a really great job of that.”

The Buffs as a unit keep rolling, as Wednesday was their fourth consecutive win by at least 23 points. It’s also the first time in CU history that the Buffs have held four consecutive opponents under 50 points.

“I keep telling our team I think we’re playing pretty good basketball,” Payne said. “Every time we’ve played the last few games, there’s something new that I feel like we’re adding to our game as a team. I thought we played again really well tonight.”

Snapshot: CU Buffs vs. Southern Utah

Turning point: Down by a point late in the first quarter, went on a 7-0 spurt, highlighted by a Jada Wynn 3-pointer, to take the lead for good.

Buff of the game: Jada Wynn. The freshman came off the bench to score 11 points, including hitting three 3-pointers, and pull down five rebounds.

What’s next?: The Buffs visit Utah in the Pac-12 opener on Dec. 14.

Colorado 78, Southern Utah 48

SOUTHERN UTAH (3-6)

Jensen 3-12 4-4 10, Williamson 4-6 0-0 8, Lord 1-5 0-0 2, Ballena 6-14 3-3 16, Daugherty 5-15 0-0 10, Banks 0-0 2-2 2, Tronnier 0-2 0-0 0, Clarke 0-0 0-00. Totals 19-54 9-8 48.

COLORADO (8-2)

Vonleh 6-12 0-0 12, Miller 6-12 0-0 13, Sherrod 0-1 1-2 1, Jones 2-2 4-4 8, Formann 4-10 0-0 11, Sadler 3-9 0-0 8, Wetta 3-7 0-0 8, Wynn 4-8 0-0 11, McLeod 3-4 0-0 6, Fitzgerald 0-0 0-0 0, Gerber 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 31-65 5-6 78.

Southern Utah             16        11        10        11        –           48

Colorado                     20        23        14        21        –           78

3-point goals – SUU 1-14 (Ballena 1-3, Daugherty 0-6, Lord 0-3, Jensen 0-2), Colorado 11-25 (Formann 3-7, Wynn 3-6, Sadler 2-5, Wetta 2-4, Miller 1-3). Rebounds – SUU 30 (Jensen, Williamson 6), Colorado 37 (Vonleh 7). Assists – SUU 3 (Daugherty 3), Colorado 21 (Wetta 7). Steals – SUU 3 (Daugherty 2), Colorado 10 (Sherrod 3). Turnovers – SUU 15, Colorado 6. Total fouls – SUU 5, Colorado 15. Fouled out – None. A – 573.