Clutch Sila Finau 3-pointers helps CU Buffs women’s basketball hold off Wisconsin

Mya Hollingshed records double-double as Buffs move to 7-0

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The prize was a much-needed one, but also one the Colorado women’s basketball team needed to go out and earn.

On Sunday, the Buffaloes put their undefeated mark on the line against Wisconsin in the finale of the Rocky Mountain Hoops Classic, completing a demanding early stretch in which the Buffs played five games in 10 days.

Remain undefeated, and play well while doing so, and head coach JR Payne promised a day off on Monday for a group whose stamina has been put to the test over the past two weeks. In the end, the Buffs indeed earned their respite, answering several Wisconsin challenges throughout the second half to post a 67-51 victory at the CU Events Center.

“I am unbelievably proud of our team,” Payne said. “I’m going to turn on the film and see that we played our hearts out. We played hard. We talked. We were aggressive. We did everything that we wanted to do.”

CU never trailed after Wisconsin jumped to a very early 4-0 advantage, putting together a 15-point lead late in the first half before going into the break with a 30-20 edge.

The Badgers kept the game close through the third quarter and into the fourth, but the Buffs responded to each Wisconsin challenge. The Badgers battled to within five points four times during the third quarter, yet each time the Buffs answered with a bucket. On the final occasion, with the Badgers within 41-36, CU finished the third quarter with an 11-2 run to take a 52-38 advantage into the fourth.

That third quarter-closing run was capped by a Sila Finau 3-pointer, and when Wisconsin still remained within nine points with less than six minutes remaining in regulation, it was a Finau 3-pointer that began a 14-0 run by CU that put the game out of reach.

Payne said she challenged Finau after the senior guard recorded just four points, one rebound, and one assist while battling foul trouble during Saturday’s win against Louisiana Tech. Finau responded on Sunday, hitting the two key 3-pointers before finishing 4-for-7 with a season-high 10 points to go with six rebounds.

“I think it’s just the veteran mindset, or the veteran group that we have. We just know how to handle these types of games,” Finau said. “Us just handling that, and just teaching the younger kids, the newbies, how to handle that during the game on the bench to fight back.”

It was another milestone day for fifth-year senior Mya Hollingshed, who posted the 19th double-double of her career with 18 points and 10 rebounds, all of them on the defensive glass. Hollingshed now is tied with Britt Hartshorn for seventh in program history for career double-doubles, and with 10 boards Hollingshed jumped all the way from 12th on CU’s career list to eighth (730 rebounds). Hollingshed also increased her career scoring total to 1,344 points, surpassing Jean Raikes for 16th all-time.

Finau entered the game 2-for-10 this season on 3-pointers but went 2-for-5 against the Badgers. Guards Kindyll Wetta (five) and Jaylyn Sherrod (four) combined to nab nine of the Buffs’ season-high 16 steals.

“In the locker room with the team (after the game) I especially highlighted Sila,” Payne said. “Just talking about taking on a challenge of impacting the game on the glass, impacting the game in different types of ways. I just love the mature way that Sila responded. She was aggressive. She was on the glass like crazy the first couple possessions.”

Fast break

What went right: CU forced 18 turnovers, including a season-high 16 steals, to post a key 22-8 edge in points off turnovers.

What went wrong: Not much, though the Buffs’ recorded a first-half shooting percentage of just .310 (9-for-29).

Star of the game: Mya Hollingshed. The fifth-year senior posted the 19th double-double of her career, going 7-for-10 with 18 points and 10 rebounds.

What’s next: The Buffs do not play again until a Friday home date against Dixie State (7 p.m.).

Colorado 67, Wisconsin 51

UW 9 11 18 13 — 51

CU 18 12 22 15 — 67

WISCONSIN (2-5)

Nelson 1-3 0-0 2, Schramek 5-10 0-1 11, Popisilova 4-12 0-0 10, Hilliard 6-8 0-0 12, Stapleton 3-5 0-0 6, Luehring 0-1 0-0 0, Ellew 1-7 0-0 2, Stauffacher 2-4 0-0 6, Duckett 0-1 2-3 2, Douglass 0-0 0-0 0, Djurstrom 0-0 0-0 0, Leuzinger 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 22-51 2-4 51.

COLORADO (7-0)

Finau 4-7 0-2 10, Sherrod 1-9 0-0 2, Formann 2-5 3-3 8, Tuitele 1-4 3-4 5, Hollingshed 7-10 2-2 18, Wetta 1-4 0-0 2, Miller 4-9 3-4 11, Sadler 3-4 1-2 8, Jones 1-4 0-0 3, Blacksten 0-2 0-0 0, Taylor 0-0 0-0 0, Singer 0-0 0-0 0, Gerber 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 24-58 12-17 67.

3-point field goals: Wisconsin 5-23 (Nelson 0-2, Schramek 1-3, Popisilova 2-7, Luehring 0-1, Ellew 0-5, Stauffacher 2-4, Duckett 0-1); Colorado 7-19 (Sherrod 0-2, Formann 1-3, Finau 2-5, Hollingshed 2-3, Jones 1-3, Wetta 0-1, Sadler 1-2). Rebounds — Wisconsin 28 (Nelson 7); Colorado 37 (Hollingshed 10). Assists — Wisconsin 12 (Hilliard 4); Colorado 16 (Sherrod 5). Total fouls — Wisconsin 13; Colorado 14. A — 1,075.