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Sunday, March 3, 2024

CU Buffs might not be done dealing with Oregon State – Boulder Daily Camera

Colorado guard Kindyll Wetta drives against Oregon State guard Talia Von Oelhoffen in Boulder on Feb. 11, 2024.(Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)
Colorado guard Kindyll Wetta drives against Oregon State guard Talia Von Oelhoffen in Boulder on Feb. 11, 2024.(Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

Colorado women’s basketball coach JR Payne is never one to look ahead, and she doesn’t let her team look ahead.

There’s a lot of basketball to be played before CU and the rest of the Pac-12 heads to Las Vegas for the conference tournament, which begins March 6.

However, there’s a decent chance that Payne and the Buffs will have to face Oregon State in Las Vegas. And, if they do, they’ve got to figure out how to defeat the Beavers.

On Sunday in Boulder, CU was looking for revenge after a 68-62 loss to OSU in Corvallis, Ore., on Jan. 26. Instead, the Beavers dominated the first three quarters, leading by as many as 25 points before CU rallied to fall by just six, 65-59.

Defensively, the Buffs have done a decent job against the Beavers, overall. OSU averages 67.3 points in conference games and the Buffs have held them to around that mark.

“You should be able to win games if you hold people to 65 points,” said Payne, whose team was 14-0 when holding opponents to 65 or less before Sunday.

OSU did sink 9-of-16 3-pointers in the first half and 10-of-21 overall and it did shoot .500 overall in the first three quarters on Sunday. But, defense hasn’t been CU’s main issue against Oregon State.

CU had a season-low 59 points against the Beavers and needed a furious fourth-quarter rally to get there. The game in Corvallis was CU’s fourth-worst point total of the year. This season, CU has finished below 40% shooting just five times – two of those against OSU.

Asked what OSU does to the CU offense, Payne said, “We need to figure that out. … We weren’t prepared to execute the offense in the way it needed to be executed. We did get pretty good looks early, but it just felt kind of clunky early on.”

One of the keys to OSU’s defense against the Buffs is taking away their outside threats. The Buffs shot a season-low 10 3-pointers on Sunday. The previous low was the 11 they attempted in Corvallis.

Against every other team, CU averages 20.6 3-point attempts per game (and 7.0 made 3s). Against OSU, the Buffs are 6-for-21 in two games combined.

The Buffs’ top two 3-point threats, Frida Formann and Maddie Nolan, average 10.5 shots beyond the arc against other teams. Against OSU, they combined for three 3-point attempts in Corvallis and three in Boulder. The Beavers simply don’t give CU’s shooters room to shoot.

“They have long players on the perimeter,” Payne said. “I think they just play the shooters very tight.”

To OSU’s credit, it’s not just CU that’s had a hard time. Utah, which averages 70.5 points per game, had 44 against OSU on Friday. In conference play, the Beavers lead the Pac-12 in scoring defense (58.9), field-goal percentage defense (.357) and 3-point percentage defense (.292).

CU may not have to deal with OSU again, but the Beavers are playing well enough that the Buffs might need to get through them at some point to win the Pac-12 Tournament title in a few weeks.

Colorado forward Charlotte Whittaker shoots against Oregon State forward Raegan Beers in Boulder on Feb. 11, 2024.(Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)
Colorado forward Charlotte Whittaker shoots against Oregon State forward Raegan Beers in Boulder on Feb. 11, 2024.(Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

Bench dialed in

With her team trailing by 22 points with 7 minutes to play on Sunday, Payne took her top three scorers – Aaronette Vonleh, Frida Formann and Jaylyn Sherrod – off the court and went to the bench.

With just over three minutes to go and the deficit still at 16, seldom-used freshman Mikayla Johnson and sophomore Brianna McLeod checked into the game.

The game was basically over, it seemed. Except that the bench crew got CU back in it. Tameiya Sadler hit a jumper, Johnson scored a layup, Maddie Nolan, who was scoreless to that point, hit a 3-pointer. Quickly, the deficit got to seven and the starters came back in.

CU still lost, but players who don’t normally score much triggered a rally that gave it a shot. Senior Quay Miller said that was great to see and could have some carry-over to future games.

“Yeah, definitely,” Miller said. “We always talk to them about there being no drop off. And I think if anything, they came in and uplifted us and brought needed energy to the bench.

“Everybody can hoop on this team. So everybody contributes to the wins and losses and moving forward I know that will be the same. I just think they did it and did their jobs.”

Notable

Despite the loss, CU remained at No. 15 in the NET rankings. OSU moved up one spot to No. 17. Also from the Pac-12: Stanford (2), Utah (6), UCLA (7), USC (16), Washington State (25), Arizona (44), Washington (48), California (62), Oregon (86) and Arizona State (115). … Over the weekend, Miller topped the 1,000-point (1,005) and 650-rebound (653) marks for her CU career. She’s only the 15th player in CU history to reach those milestones. … Sunday was Sherrod’s 130th career game, which ranks sixth in program history. She’s fourth in career starts (122).

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