BOULDER – When you're hot you're hot and when you're not you're not. That is what the Colorado women's basketball team ran into on Sunday. The California Golden Bears enjoyed a 52.8 percent shooting performance on the way to an 80-60 defeat of the Buffaloes at the CU Events Center.
Colorado was gifted an early window when Cal's Kristine Anigwe, the NCAA's sixth-leading scorer (22.8 ppg), picked up two fouls in the game's first 90 seconds. The Buffs scored six points in her absence, but the Golden Bears carried on as normal, hitting 4-of-4 in her absence, playing to a 10-10 tie.
"She's one of the best players in America," head coach JR Payne noted. "It was almost a bad thing [when she went out]. We knew that when she picked up those two fouls that she wouldn't see another foul the rest of the night. She's a very smart basketball player.
"We would have loved to have been able to make a run when she was out, but she wasn't out very long. They have a lot of other good basketball players as well. They are a very veteran group on the floor and I thought they managed well without her."
CU's defense limited Cal's chances in the final minutes of the quarter. The Golden Bears were held to just one field goal attempt in the final 2:37 of the period. Both teams scored from the free-throw line the close the quarter with Cal up by four, 22-18.
Cal (13-6, 4-4 Pac-12) felt right at home in the second quarter, shooting a game-high 64.3 percent (9-14) from the field. The teams traded 3's to open the quarter before the Golden Bears put together a 12-0 run to extend the lead to 16 points (37-21). Cal would not miss from long range in the quarter, going 7-for-7 from deep to take a 49-31 halftime lead.
Colorado (10-9, 0-8 Pac-12) cut the Cal lead to 16 with a Mya Hollingshed layup in its first possession out of the break. Cal responded with a 10-0 run, increasing its lead to 26 points (59-33). The Golden Bears lead grew to 29 before the close the quarter.
Hollingshed took matters into her own hands in the fourth quarter. The Houston native, scored 10 of her game-high 20 points in the final quarter, going 5-for-5 from the field. Colorado had its best offensive output in the closing period, going 7-for-13 from the floor and outscoring Cal, 16-10.
Alexis Robinson and Lesila Finau rounded out the Buffs top scorers. Robinson closed with 14 points on 4-of-14 shooting. Finau recorded her best game to-date with 11 points and four rebounds.
Anigwe finished as one of four Cal starters in double figures. She registered 16 points and 11 rebounds in 20 minutes. Asha Tomas closed 3-of-3 from long range on her way to 15 points. Kianna Smith and Jaelyn Brown each totaled 14.
HOW IT HAPPENED: Cal broke loose in the second quarter. The Golden Bears registered their sixth quarter of the season with a field goal percentage of 60 percent or higher. California started 0-for-2 to open the quarter and then put together a streak of six consecutive 3-pointers.
The Golden Bears were a perfect 7-for-7 from 3 in the quarter, setting an opponent record for the most 3's scored in a quarter against the Buffs. Their streak continued into the third quarter, making it 8-for-8. Cal went 1-of-2 in the third quarter, missing on its second attempt inside the final minute.
"We are in all of these games that we're playing against really fantastic ballclubs," Payne added. "I feel like we are losing them in a very short period of time. We will play fantastic basketball and beat our opponent for three quarters and then one quarter will doom us in, on in this case it was probably a five-minute stretch that hurt us. It was difficult for us to come back emotionally."
TURNING POINT: Cal's seven consecutive 3's in a span of just over six minutes resulted in a game-changing 23-8 run. The run began after Finau drilled a 3 to cut Cal's lead to 25-21. Smith hit the first two 3's to push the lead back to 10, 31-21. Smith hit the seventh 3 at the 2:18 mark, boosting Cal to a 19-point cushion.
WHAT IT MEANS: Colorado's winless streak, now at eight games, will be put to the test on the road next week.
KEY STATISTICS: Cal finished 11-of-14 (78.6 percent) from 3, matching its season-high in makes…Colorado outscored Cal in the paint, 32-30…CU's bench totaled a season-low two points (Emma Clarke)
NOTEWORTHY: Colorado was without senior Kennedy Leonard for the fourth consecutive game…she continues to be day-to-day…Cal's 80 points tied the most scored by an opponent this season (Stanford)…CU's 29-point deficit in the third quarter was its largest of the season…Robinson totaled her third consecutive double-figure game…
QUOTEWORTHY: "Fearless is something that we want to be and Sila embodies that. She doesn't care if it's Stanford or Cal, she's just going to play hard and be aggressive." – CU's JR Payne
"We've just got to keep playing how we play every day, keep practicing and be prepared to play good basketball. We'll be fin if we continue to do that." – CU's Mya Hollingshed
"I just wanted the win. I just kept thinking how coach says to 'never give up,' and not quit on plays. I just continued to play through everything." CU's Lesila Finau
NEXT UP: Colorado heads back on the road next week with a pair of ranked matchups. The Buffs will visit No. 9 Oregon State to open the week on Friday. The trip continues with No. 3 Oregon on Sunday.