What went right?: The Buffs put themselves in position to win in the waning moments after trailing by nine earlier in the second half
What went wrong?: CU allowed Washington State guard Tia Presley to score 32 points and the Buffs made only one field goal in the final 5 minutes.
Star of the game: Presley was unstoppable in the first half scoring 22 points in 17 minutes of playing time
What's next?: Colorado travels to Arizona State for a 6:30 p.m. game Friday
A man sitting in the north end of the Coors Events Center during Sunday's basketball game called Washington State guard Tia Presley a 'ball hog' on several occasions.
While that particular fan might have had a problem with the Cougars' strategy and Presley's style of play, it's unlikely anyone in Washington State colors cared much.
Presley scored a game-best 32 points leading her team to a season sweep of the Buffs with a 80-77 victory. Presley needed 22 field goal attempts to register her point total. It was the second consecutive game she scored 32 points.
"She played too many minutes tonight, but you can't take her out," WSU coach June Daugherty said. "She's such a fierce competitor."
Presley scored the go-ahead basket with 1 minute, 25 seconds remaining as the Buffs watched another winnable game slip away in crunch time. Lia Galdeira and Shalie Dheensaw combined to make three of four free throw attempts in the final 12 seconds to secure the win.
The Buffs' last-ditch effort to get off a tying 3-point attempt went awry when forward Jamee Swan caught a long inbound pass from Jen Reese with 1.1 seconds remaining but passed instead of shooting because she wasn't behind the 3-point line.
CU never should have had the opportunity to set up a play. Dheensaw missed a free throw with 1.1 seconds left and no one from either team rebounded the ball. Official Brian Woods grabbed the live ball off the floor when one of his fellow officials granted CU a timeout.
"It seems a little bit like déjà vu," CU coach Linda Lappe said. "I credit our team for continuing to fight and battle and stay in games and have great shots to win at the end. The key with us right now is just being able to make a few extra plays.
"We'll make plays to cut the lead from eight to two or to tie the game or from 10 to keep it from getting out of control, but it comes down to making those key stops, making those key free throws, making those key passes, the key shots down the stretch that really would help us if we could to help us get the outcome that we want."
Colorado has now lost 11 of 16 games since a 9-0 start to the season. CU fell to 14-11 overall and 4-10 in Pac-12 play. It was CU's fourth loss by three points or less.
Ashley Wilson gave the Buffs their only lead of the second half with 2 minutes, 52 seconds remaining in the game by hitting a pair of free throws. The Buffs are likely kicking themselves for missing 12 of 32 free throws in the game.
It was CU's first lead since midway through the first half. The Buffs had trailed by as many as nine, but the advantage was short-lived.
Galdeira tied it with two free throws and Presley put her team in front after being held scoreless for more than 10 minutes in the second half.
Reese and Swan each scored 19 points to lead the Buffs who scored only one field goal in the final 5 minutes of the game.
Lappe said she continues to believe in her team despite its struggles throughout Pac-12 play and so many missed opportunities to win close games. She said any team is capable of getting hot and there is no reason why the Buffs can't be that team.
Lappe's challenge now is finding a way to get her players over the mental hump in close games and start that hot streak.
"There is no magic formula," Lappe said. "You just got to do it. I mean you have to figure out enough is enough and just really be tough enough to do that and understand that every team is going to get tougher down the stretch. It's when the stars are really born. It's where people step up and players step up."