TUCSON, Ariz. – Colorado got the start it wanted Sunday.
The finish could not have been more disappointing.
After leading by 12 points early, the 22nd-ranked CU women’s basketball team was routed by No. 10 Arizona, 75-56, at the McKale Center.
The Buffs (13-4, 2-4 Pac-12) have lost four in a row after Arizona (14-2, 4-2) completely controlled the final 26 minutes.
“I thought we were the aggressor early and they were the aggressor for the second portion of the game,” CU head coach JR Payne said. “Whoever was most aggressive was the one that was winning at that time. Unfortunately, we didn’t match or maintain that level of aggressiveness and confident play for the entire 40 minutes.”
Mya Hollingshed and Tameiya Sadler each scored 11 points to lead the Buffs, but there was no answer for the Arizona duo of Shaina Pellington and Cate Reese. The two seniors combined for 51 points, with Pellington scoring 28 on 10-of-13 shooting. Reese was 10-of-17 and added nine rebounds.
“I think we’re gonna turn on the film and see that we really wanted to win the kill zone and we didn’t,” Payne said. “If you play behind Cate Reese in the block, she’s a 1,500-point scorer for a reason. She’s very good and you can’t let her get those types of touches. Pellington is just a really good, experienced player who just got a lot of different types of looks. For a kid that’s made six 3s all year, hitting step-back contested 3s, I mean, kudos to her. She played a great game.”
Riding a three-game losing streak coming in, the Buffs were still confident because each of those games was close. They rode that confidence early on Sunday, sprinting to a 17-7 lead after one quarter.
A layup by Quay Miller increased CU’s lead to 21-9 with 8 minutes, 7 seconds to go in the second quarter, but about 2 minutes later, Arizona got hot.
A Pellington jumper sparked a 20-8 Arizona run to close the second quarter. She had 10 points in the final 6 minutes of the quarter and the score was knotted at 29-29 at the break.
“We just needed to be able to settle ourselves down,” Payne said. “In the first half, we turned the ball over twice against their press, which isn’t that big of a deal, but I thought that still disrupted our timing and flow even once we got into the frontcourt where we had been playing with great execution and great flow. I think that was disruptive.”
CU had a strong start to the third, with Hollingshed scoring five quick points and the Buffs took a 39-36 lead.
It was all Arizona from there. The Wildcats went on a 27-4 run over a stretch of about nine minutes to take a commanding 63-43 lead early in the fourth. Reese had 14 points in that run, while Pellington had 13.
“You call timeouts, you try to settle them down,” Payne said. “You call another timeout to try to regroup, make sure we execute something well, but in the end, yes, it snowballed and it was quick. Our turnovers were costly. They weren’t dead-ball turnovers. They were live-ball turnovers under the basket.”
While crediting Arizona, Payne said mental fatigue set in for the Buffs, as well. This was CU’s third road game in seven days, including overtime losses at Oregon State and Arizona State.
It was also the third game of a four-game road swing. CU has a second four-game road swing on the horizon. The rest of the Pac-12 combined has just one four-game road swing.
“We’re towards the end of our first (four-game swing) and that’s not easy,” Payne said. “When you combine two overtime losses on the road, those also are not easy and then you add the fact that these kids are in school and online (classes), there’s a lot of things that are very difficult.
“It doesn’t mean we don’t still have a job to do; it doesn’t mean that we can’t still execute and do what we need to do to be successful, but certainly that’s difficult.”
Hollingshed added 10 rebounds, giving her the 21st double-double of her career. … Arizona led by as many as 23 points. Prior to the fourth quarter on Sunday, CU’s largest deficit of the season was nine points. … Sadler got her first start as a Buff, replacing Frida Formann in the lineup, as the Buffs looked to get a spark offensively. Sadler and Formann each played 22 minutes. … CU came into Sunday ranking 10th nationally with 12.8 steals per game. The Buffs had a season-low five against the Wildcats. … CU is 1-45 all-time on the road against Top 10 opponents and has lost its last 36.
What went right: CU got off to a stellar start, playing exceptional defense and draining three early 3s to put Arizona in a 12-point hole after the first 12 minutes.
What went wrong: Arizona turned 16 CU turnovers into 19 points, outscored the Buffs 42-18 in the paint and controlled momentum for the final 26 minutes.
Star of the game: Tameiya Sadler. Making her first start as a Buff, she had 11 points, six rebounds and three steals.
What’s next: CU visits Utah on Friday at 7 p.m. MT.
No. 10 Arizona 75, No. 22 Colorado 56
COLORADO (13-4, 2-4 Pac-12)
Tuitele 2-2 0-0 4, Finau 0-1 1-2 1, Hollingshed 4-16 1-2 11, Sadler 3-6 4-4 11, Sherrod 0-3 4-6 4, Miller 3-6 3-4 9, Blacksten 1-1 1-2 3, Formann 2-9 2-2 8, Jones 1-4 0-0 2, Wetta 1-2 1-2 3, Team 0-0 0-0 0, Totals 17-50 17-24 56
ARIZONA (14-2, 4-2 Pac-12)
Reese 10-17 3-3 23, Thomas 3-5 0-0 9, Ware 1-4 0-0 2, Pellington 10-13 6-8 28, Yeaney 1-2 0-0 2, Copeland 0-1 0-0 0, Love 1-5 0-0 2, Smith 0-0 0-0 0, Asi 0-0 0-0 0, Chavez 0-2 0-0 0, Conner 0-1 0-0 0, Pueyo 1-3 0-0 2, Erdogan 1-1 0-0 2, Sanchez 1-1 0-0 3, Vonleh 1-1 0-0 2, Team 0-0 0-0 0, Totals 30-56 9-11 75
Colorado 17 12 14 13 — 56 Arizona 7 22 22 24 — 75
3-Point Goals – Colorado 5-21 (Finau 0-1, Hollingshed 2-8, Sadler 1-2, Sherrod 0-1, Miller 0-1, Formann 2-8), Arizona 6-17 (Reese 0-3, Thomas 3-4, Ware 0-2, Pellington 2-2, Love 0-1, Chavez 0-2, Pueyo 0-2, Sanchez 1-1). Assists – Colorado 12 (Hollingshed 3, Sherrod 3), Arizona 13 (Yeaney 4). Fouled Out – None. Rebounds – Colorado 33 (Hollingshed 10), Arizona 31 (Reese 9). Total Fouls – Colorado 16, Arizona 17. Technical Fouls – None. A – 7,103.