Despite a tear-producing loss that was so painfully close to being a win on Thursday afternoon, the Colorado women’s basketball team actually moved up in at least one NCAA Tournament projection.
ESPN’s latest bracketology, posted on Friday morning, has the Buffaloes (21-7, 12-5 Pac-12) as a No. 4 seed and hosting the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament in Boulder. CU was a No. 5 seed in the previous projection.
While the ESPN projection, produced by bracket guru Charlie Creme, isn’t a guarantee of where the Buffs currently stand in the eyes of the selection committee, it’s certainly a reminder that the 73-62 double-overtime loss to No. 3 Stanford, while painful, wasn’t a bad loss in the big picture.
There’s no time to brood over Thursday because there’s a lot on the line for the Buffaloes moving forward, starting with Saturday’s regular season finale against California at the CU Events Center.
“We are super resilient,” CU head coach JR Payne said. “We don’t spend very long being either too happy or too sad about the outcome of a game because we understand the importance of the next game. It’s OK to be sad and be disappointed. But by (Friday), this game is done, and we have to really focus for Cal. Every game is an opportunity to get better and this game provided a lot of windows that we could say we could be tighter here, we could be a little bit better there.”
In losing to Stanford, the Buffs missed an opportunity to finish as high as the No. 2 seed for next week’s Pac-12 Tournament is Las Vegas. However, Arizona losing at Oregon kept the Buffs one game ahead of the Wildcats for third place.
If CU beats 10th-place Cal on Saturday, it will claim the No. 3 seed and secure the program’s best conference finish since placing third in the Big 12 in 2003-04. Lose to the Bears and the Buffs could finish third or drop to fourth with an Arizona win at Oregon State.
“I know I’m emotional about this loss,” center Quay Miller said through tears on Thursday night, “but I think that this team is going to come into practice (Friday) ready to beat Cal. I don’t think we’ll hold our heads too long. It just stings a little bit more when you’ve never been so close to Stanford. Losing in double overtime, it’s just so surreal, kind of, for me because I’ve never been in this position.
“But, I think the team and I will come tomorrow and we’ll probably be forgetting about this game.”
With the postseason around the corner, the Buffs have to try to rediscover their shooting touch.
Throughout this season, the Buffs have been a much better shooting team than they were a year ago. CU is currently shooting 43.5% from the floor, including 34.9% from 3-point range. Last year, the Buffs finished at 41.3% from the floor and 30.0% from 3-point range.
The Buffs have had two of their worst shooting games of the season in the last two games, however – albeit against top-notch competition.
CU shot a season-worst 28.3% in a loss to Arizona on Sunday and then 28.8% on Thursday against Stanford – matching the numbers from CU’s January visit to Stanford.
In the last two games, the Buffs were an abysmal 4-for-31 (12.9%) on 3s.
It will help to get Frida Formann back. The Buffs’ leading 3-point shooter, Formann missed the Stanford game with an illness. She made just 2-of-14 3-pointers (and 5-of-21 shots overall) on last week’s two-game trip through Arizona, but has been exceptional at home beyond the arc (35-of-79, 44.3%).
The Buffs also need to get Miller and point guard Jaylyn Sherrod back on track. Both have had very good percentages all year until the past few games.
Sherrod is 7-for-27 (25.9%) from the floor and 1-for-8 on 3s in the last two games. Miller is 7-for-28 (25%) overall in the last two games and 1-for-14 (7.1%) on 3s in the last three.
With one game remaining, eight of the 12 seeds for the Pac-12 women’s tournament are set, with Stanford (No. 1) and Utah (No. 2) leading the way. Also locked in are Washington State (7), Washington (8), Oregon (9), Cal (10), Oregon State (11) and Arizona State (12). While CU and Arizona battle for third and fourth, UCLA and USC are battling for fifth and sixth.
No. 21 CU Buffs women’s basketball vs. California Golden Bears
TIPOFF: Saturday, Noon MT, at CU Events Center in Boulder
TV/RADIO: TV — Pac-12 Network. Radio — KHOW 630 AM
RECORDS: Colorado 21-7, 12-5 Pac-12; California 13-15, 4-13 Pac-12
COACHES: Colorado — JR Payne, 7th season (115-91; 216-204 career); California — Charmin Smith, 4th season (37-63)
KEY PLAYERS: Colorado — G Frida Formann, 5-11, Jr. (11.1 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 1.9 apg, 38.4% 3-point, 94.1% FT); C Quay Miller, 6-3, Sr. (14.3 ppg, 8.7 rpg, 1.5 spg); G Jaylyn Sherrod, 5-7, Sr. (10.9 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 5.0 apg, 2.4 spg); C Aaronette Vonleh, 6-3, So. (11.4 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 56.6% FG); G Kindyll Wetta, 5-9, So. (5.6 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 3.3 apg, 1.6 spg). California — G Jayda Curry, 5-6, So. (15.1 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 3.8 apg); F Evelien Lutje Schipholt, 6-2, Sr. (9.5 ppg, 4.9 rpg); G Kemery Martin, 6-0, So. (10.9 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 1.9 apg); G Leilani McIntosh, 5-5, Sr. (10.0 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 3.8 apg, 1.2 spg, 41.3% 3-point); F Peanut Tuitele, 6-1, Sr. (5.2 ppg, 4.8 rpg).
NOTES: CU wraps up the regular season with its annual Senior Day. The Buffs have won three straight and seven of their last eight on Senior Day. … The Buffs have lost two in a row for the first time this season. … CU leads the all-time series with Cal, 13-12, including 6-5 in Boulder. … The Buffs have a current six-game win streak against the Bears, including a 73-66 win in Berkeley, Calif., on Jan. 20. Miller had 26 points. … CU is 18-2 against unranked opponents this season. Cal snapped a 16-game losing streak to ranked foes with an overtime win against then-No. 25 USC on Sunday, but lost to No. 8 Utah on Thursday, 101-76. … Curry had 28 points against Utah and has 55 in the last two games. … Tuitele played the previous four seasons at CU before transferring to Cal for her final season of eligibility. … As of Friday, CU was at No. 22 in the NET rankings, while Cal was at No. 79.