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Tayanna Jones finding role with CU Buffs

Transfer is averaging 5.4 points and 3.0 rebounds of the bench

University of Colorado Boulder’s Tayanna Jones (No. 1) drives around Colorado School of Mines’s Denali Pinto (No. 24) at CU Events Center in Boulder on Monday, Nov. 1, 2021. (Matthew Jonas/Staff Photographer)
University of Colorado Boulder’s Tayanna Jones (No. 1) drives around Colorado School of Mines’s Denali Pinto (No. 24) at CU Events Center in Boulder on Monday, Nov. 1, 2021. (Matthew Jonas/Staff Photographer)

Colorado’s Mya Hollingshed gave a hearty laugh when head coach JR Payne mentioned the first workout Tayanna Jones had with the team last year.

“If you could turn on the film from Tay’s first workout here, you wouldn’t even recognize her, the way she moved on the floor; everything,” Payne said. “Just tying up her shoes was a struggle in some ways.”

Jones has grown quite a bit since and the 6-foot-1 wing from Semla, N.C., is now a key player off the bench for the Buffaloes (5-0), who host Louisiana Tech on Saturday in the Rocky Mountain Hoops Classic.

“Tay has grown tremendously in just the way she plays the game,” Payne said. “She plays hard, she gives great effort. … Tay is truly developing almost every single day; she is continuing to get better and better.”

A transfer from Georgetown, Jones is averaging 5.4 points and 3.0 rebounds in the early going of the season and she’s provided good energy off the bench in her 16.8 minutes per game.

On Tuesday against Texas Southern, she had 12 points and six rebounds – her highest totals for both categories in her 22 games with CU.

“It feels good,” Jones said. “Coach J always kind of pounds us on that rebounding and little stuff leads to big stuff. So I try to do that. I really wasn’t really focusing on scoring. I was trying to focus on defense, which is crazy because when you focus on one thing it’s the opposite.”

Jones spent two seasons as a reserve at Georgetown and has had to carve out a new role with the Buffs. That role has been altered a bit this year, too. With Aubrey Knight and Charlotte Whittaker out for the season, the Buffs are without two of their top rebounders and Payne has asked Jones to focus more on that aspect.

“It’s something that she can do to immediately impact the game for us in a positive way,” Payne said. “We’ve seen daily Tay is really trying to build that habit of rebounding. She’s one of our most athletic players.”

Rebounding fits well with Jones’ overall skillset and mindset.

“I try to bring tenacity every game,” Jones said. “Coach talks about that, so I try to really just bring that tenacious effort on the boards, defensively. … Consistency, too, because that’s something I actually struggled with just being consistent all-around.”

She’s getting there, and Hollingshed is proud of her teammate and roommate.

“I love Tay,” Hollingshed said. “We’re roommates, so we’re always goofing around, but we also have those talks about basketball and we always talk about our future. We take this so serious that we come in every day and it’s like we’re pros. We come at it as a professional mindset, so I think that’s just gonna make each other better.”

CU Buffs women’s basketball vs. Louisiana Tech Lady Techsters

TIPOFF: Saturday, 1 p.m., at CU Events Center in Boulder

BROADCAST: Online – Radio – 630 AM

RECORDS: Colorado 5-0 (0-0 Pac-12); Louisiana Tech 4-1 (0-0 C-USA)

COACHES: Colorado – JR Payne, 5th season (77-75; 178-188 career). Louisiana Tech – Brooke Stoehr, 6th season (84-68; 155-126 career)

KEY PLAYERS: Colorado – G Sila Finau, 5-9, Sr. (3.6 ppg, 1.5 rpg); G Frida Formann, 5-11, So. (8.6 ppg, 2.0 rpg); F Mya Hollingshed, 6-3, Sr. (14.6 ppg, 6.8 rpg; 2.0 bpg); C Quay Miller, 6-3, Jr. (8.6 ppg, 5.2 rpg); G Jaylyn Sherrod, 5-7, Jr. (8.8 ppg; 2.8 rpg; 3.8 apg, 2.4 spg); F Peanut Tuitele, 6-1, Sr. (5.6 ppg, 4.0 rpg); Louisiana Tech (statistics prior Friday’s game) – G Salma Bates, 5-7, So. (10.0 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 3.8 apg, 3.8 spg); G Amaya Brannon, 5-11, Fr. (11.8 ppg, 4.8 rpg);G Robyn Lee, 5-8, Fr. (8.3 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 2.0 apg); F Anna Larr Roberson, 6-3, So. (10.5 ppg, 6.3 rpg); G Keiunna Walker, 5-6, Jr. (18.8 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 2.8 apg)

NOTES: This will be CU’s first game in the Rocky Mountain Hoops Classic. The Buffs will host Wisconsin on Sunday at Noon. … Wisconsin will play Boise State on Saturday at 3:30 p.m.. … Louisiana Tech beat Boise State 60-57 on Friday. … CU is 1-3 all-time against Louisiana Tech, but the teams have not met since Nov. 25, 1995, a 65-61 Tech win in Boulder. … CU is seeking its first 6-0 start in two years. … Tech came into this weekend averaging 79.8 points per game while allowing just 52.8. … CU is averaging 68.4 and allowing 49.2. … Hollingshed needs 17 points to pass Jean Raikes (1,333 points from 1976-80) for 16th on the CU career scoring list. Hollingshed has 1,317 points. … Hollingshed also needs 10 rebounds to tie Bridget Turner (725 from 1985-89) for ninth on that career list. Hollingshed is currently 12th with 715. Britt Hartshorn (724, 1998-02) is 10th and Tera Bjorklund (723, 2000-04) is 11th.