CU women's basketball preview: Washington State
MATCHUP: Washington State Cougars (9-16, 4-10 Pac-12) at Colorado Buffaloes (11-14, 1-13 Pac-12)
GAME TIME: Friday, 7 p.m. MT, at CU Events Center
BROADCAST: Online — CUBuffs.com/WBB. Radio — KHOW 630 AM
COACHES: Colorado — JR Payne, 3rd season (43-46; 144-159 career). Washington State — Kamie Ethridge, 1st season (9-16; 92-60 career).
KEY PLAYERS: Colorado — G Quinessa Caylao-Do, Jr., 10.7 ppg, 4.2 rpg; G Lesila Finau, Fr., 3.4 ppg, 2.4 rpg, 1.4 apg; G/F Mya Hollingshed, So., 11.4 ppg, 6.7 rpg; G Kennedy Leonard, Sr., 13.5 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 7.0 apg; G Alexis Robinson, Sr., 12.8 ppg, 2.6 rpg; F Peanut Tuitele, Fr., 6.8 ppg, 5.3 rpg. Washington State - F Borislava Hristova, Jr., 20.9 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 2.2 apg; C Maria Kostourkova, Sr., 7.1 ppg, 8.0 rpg; G Chanelle Molina, Jr., 16.4 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 5.4 apg; G Alexys Swedlund, Sr., 11.5 ppg, 2.2 rpg.
NOTABLE: CU has lost two in a row, but won its last home game, Feb. 10 against Southern California. ... Washington State has won two in a row. The Cougars haven't won three consecutive conference games since January of 2017. ... The Cougars won the first meeting of the season, 74-48, in Pullman, Wash., on Jan. 13. ... Washington State leads the all-time series 10-6, but the Buffs are 5-2 against the Cougars in Boulder. ... Leonard needs 15 points to reach 1,600 for her career, which would vault her from 10th in CU history to eighth.
After lacing up her shoes for a practice at the CU Events Center, Kennedy Leonard spoke about her final games at the CU Events Center.
"Honestly, it's sad," she said. "I haven't spent too much time thinking about it, or it doesn't feel like it's already here."
On Friday, the Buffs (11-14, 1-13 Pac-12) will host Washington State (9-16, 4-10) for the penultimate home game of the season. On Sunday, the Buffs will host Washington in what will be the final home game in the careers of Leonard and fellow senior Alexis Robinson.
"We have a lot of good memories here and a lot of blood, sweat, tears and whatever else goes into it," Leonard said. "It'll be sad, but at the same time it's an awesome feeling knowing we've made it this far. We're seniors now and we're leaving behind a legacy that hopefully the young ones can follow."
Leonard and Robinson have been a part of 65 games at the CEC during their careers, plus countless hours in practice, so saying goodbye won't be easy for either of them.
"I'd have to say it's pretty bittersweet," Robinson said. "Knowing I'll never play another game again in the Events Center is a pretty sad feeling. The fans are great, the atmosphere is great and it's going to be amazing playing in front of my family."
While the Buffs have struggled to find wins throughout their careers, Leonard and Robinson have been mainstays in the lineup.
Leonard, who missed 10 games with a foot injury this season, has played 109 games in her career and is the program's all-time leader in assists, while ranking top 10 in steals and points.
Robinson ranks 20th in school history in points and eighth in 3-pointers made. She missed Sunday's game at Arizona with a knee injury, however, and is a game-time decision for playing Friday.
Beyond the numbers is the overall impact made by Leonard and Robinson. They're the only players remaining from Linda Lappe's final season as head coach, and the first two players that JR Payne and her staff met when hired three years ago.
"They've been Colorado," Payne said. "All that we've known since we've been Buffs has been Ken and Lex - on the court, off the court. They've meant a lot to us as coaches and to our community, to our young players and it'll be hard to see them go, for sure."
Before they go, Leonard and Robinson would like to create a few more memories in the Events Center. The Buffs have won four consecutive games on senior day.
"Hopefully we can keep that tradition alive and send us out on a good note," Leonard said.