LOS ANGELES The No. 25 UCLA women's basketball team proved to be a tall task for Colorado on Sunday. The Buffaloes concluded the regular season with an 84-50 loss inside Pauley Pavilion.
The Bruins got out to a fast start on their Senior Day and never looked back. UCLA grew its lead to 34 and kept the Buffs to just 16 field goals, matching their season low.
"I'm pretty disappointed," head coach JR Payne said after the game. "I don't think we had the fight that we normally do. We have been a group that has been injured and down all year long, but we have never really rolled over. We fight and are competitive and we didn't do that as well as we needed to today."
Sophomore Annika Jank was the lone Buff to hit double figures. She led the team with 11 points on 3-of-4 shooting. Alexis Robinson and Quinessa Caylao-Do finished with eight points apiece. Kennedy Leonard snagged a team-high seven rebounds to go with her six points and four assists.
UCLA had a pair of double-digit scorers. Michaela Onyenwere led all scorers with 18 points and Kennedy Burke closed with 15.
HOW IT HAPPENED: The afternoon got off to a sluggish start for both the Buffs and Bruins. UCLA hit the opening shot and held the early 2-0 lead. CU got its first points from Caylao-Do to even the game. Both offenses struggled from that point. UCLA went 1-for-4 to start, while CU was unable to get another field goal in the quarter (1-12).
The Buffs struggled to maintain possession in the opening quarter. CU turned the ball over nine times in the period, providing UCLA extra possessions. The Bruins used the Colorado mistakes and turned them into seven points in the quarter and a 16-5 advantage.
CU's shooting woes continued at the start of the second quarter. Colorado missed on its first two attempts, extending its slump to 0-for-11. Emma Clarke got the Buffs off the schneid. She got to the rim on a layup, sparking a 4-for-4 shooting streak. Back-to-back baskets from Jank and a 3 from Robinson to cut UCLA's lead to 10, 24-14. Jank added a pair of free throws to slim the UCLA lead to nine, 25-16, with just over three minutes to go in the half. The Bruins used an 8-0 run and a10-5 close to the quarter to take a 35-21 lead at the break.
Colorado's offense scored 21 points in the third but allowed UCLA to go for 29. The Bruins grew their lead to 20 (45-25) in the opening minutes of the third quarter. UCLA didn't miss from the floor until midway through the period. The Bruins went 5-for-5 to start and got its lead up to 27 (60-30) by the 2:18 mark.
UCLA cruised in the fourth, growing the lead to 34 before the final whistle.
TURNING POINT: The Bruins, up 14 at the start of the second half, shot 5-for-5 start to the 3rd. The 14-point lead grew to 20, 49-29, in the start. The lead proved insurmountable for the Buffs.
WHAT IT MEANS: The Buffaloes finish the Pac-12 season 2-16 and will be the 12th seed in the Pac-12 Tournament. CU will play the No. 5 seed Arizona State.
KEY STATISTICS: UCLA scored 25 points off of 21 Colorado turnovers…the Bruins outrebounded CU, 41-36, snagging 17 offensive boards…CU had 30 bench points, the most the Buffs have scored in the Pac-12 season.
NOTEWORTHY: Colorado opened with its ninth different starting lineup of the season…Diop started her first career game…it was the 15th straight game CU has played minus a starter (Peanut Tuitele)...Leonard moved into 6th all-time in free-throws made (397) and a tie for 7th in steals (237)…Jank hit a season-high five free throws (5-5)…CU finishes 2-16 in Pac-12 play for the second time in four seasons.
QUOTEWORTHY: "We have been the underdog all year but we can't play a game where we are not going to fight, scrap, compete and win loose balls. Sure, miss a layup. No big deal, but then sprint back on defense and get the next play. We cannot and will not be that basketball team." – CU's JR Payne
"Annika did great. She's more comfortable coming off the bench. Last game we started her, and I know she's more comfortable off the bench. We made that adjustment today and I think she likes that. She came in and gave us some aggressive play."
"Their [UCLA] defense is really good. They gave us hard time going to the basket. We worked on our penetration [in practice] and we just couldn't get inside like we wanted." – CU's Annika Jank
NEXT UP: Colorado heads off to the Pac-12 Tournament next week in Las Vegas. The Buffaloes will open the tournament at 12:30 p.m. MT on Thursday.