BOULDER – Senior Alexis Robinson recorded a career-high 33 points to lead all players in Colorado's return to the CU Events Center. Her record-night paced the Buffaloes women's basketball team who ended up on the short end of a 64-60 verdict against UCLA on Friday night.
Colorado was in the game the entire night, despite shooting just 29.4 percent (20-68). The Buffs led by as many as 11 in the first quarter but were outscored by the Bruins in the final three periods. CU never let the game get out of reach, keeping the Bruins within six points.
"I am really proud of our team for the way they competed, battled and stayed with a really great UCLA team," head coach JR Payne commented. "They outrebounded us, but they outrebound everybody. Our competitiveness on the glass tonight was phenomenal. I thought our team did a great job of reading defenses in the second half as they were changing things every other possession. There were a lot of great things we did tonight. Unfortunately, we don't have the victory to show for it. But our competitiveness, fight and will to compete was pretty special."
Robinson got her night going with nine points in the first quarter. She did most of her early damage from the free-throw line, staring 6-of-8 from the line. The Ashland, Ky., native, led the Buffs with 15 points in the first half. She went 3-of-6 from 3 in the half. Robinson posted almost half of CU's second-half points. She accounted for 18 of CU's 29 points over the final 20 minutes.
CU's only available senior was the lone Buff in double figures. Junior Quinessa Caylao-Do was CU second-leading scorer with nine points. Sophomore Annika Jank put in eight off the bench.
Colorado native Michaela Onyenwere led UCLA with 22 points and 11 rebounds. Japreece Dean (17) and Kennedy Burke (10) also finished in double figures.
HOW IT HAPPENED: The Buffs had their best opening period of the Pac-12 season to start on Friday. The Bruins got out to a quick 7-2 start, but Colorado remained calm and weathered the storm. Caylao-Do hit CU's first two field goals to gain an 8-7 lead. Her quick five points sparked a 5-for-5 shooting-streak for Colorado, aiding an 18-2 run for the Buffs.
Colorado was the aggressors at the start. The Buffs went 8-for-10 from the free-throw line in the first quarter. CU shot 8-for-10 in the first quarter from the line, helping CU to the 20-11 lead.
UCLA flipped the script in the second quarter, outscoring CU 20-11. The Buffs went 0-for-5 from the field to start the quarter and finished just 4-for-16. Timely 3's from Robinson and Finau helped keep the Buffs from trailing going into the break. In a reverse of roles, it was the Bruins saw success at the line, going 6-for-10. CU was limited to just two attempts in the period, closing the half 8-for-12.
The Bruins broke the halftime time (31-31) with a 7-2 start to the third quarter. Colorado went through a 0-for-7 shooting slump, watching UCLA increase its lead to 39-33. Robinson scored CU's next five points to bring the Buffs back to within one, 41-40, with just under half the quarter to go.
CU closed third with contributions from Jank and Mya Hollingshed. Robinson would open the fourth quarter with her fifth 3-pointer of the night, helping CU retake the lead at 50-49. Another shooting-slump plagued the Buffs, this time a 0-for-9 streak that allowed UCLA to move back in front, 54-50.
Robinson scored six of CU's final eight points, getting CU back within one (55-54) with 4:49 to play. UCLA countered with a 6-0 run, shifting the game back to a two-possession game. Robinson got CU back to within 3 in the final minute (63-60) but the Buffs missed their final three attempts to close the night.
TURNING POINT: UCLA's late 6-0 run downed the Buffs. Onyenwere got the first leg, getting the basket and drawing a foul. She missed the ensuing free throw but put UCLA back up by three, 57-54, with 4:15 to go. Another and-one opportunity followed for the Bruins. This time it was Dean who put UCLA up by six with 3:27 left in the game.
"It felt like down the stretch they were either scoring on free throws or on and-ones," Payne added. "That is what it felt like. I don't know if that is what it was. It felt like we gave up a lot of offensive rebounds down the stretch. Typically, (offensive) boards lead to and-ones. There were a lot of touch fouls on the perimeter that got them to the free-throw line down the stretch. That is a credit to them. They are fantastic on the offensive glass. They know that when the game is on the line, that is where they can make their money and they did so."
WHAT IT MEANS: CU's slide continues. The Buffs fall to 0-11 in conference play for the first time in program history.
KEY STATISTICS: UCLA outrebounded CU 53-41. The Bruins totaled 33 defensive rebounds and outscored CU 17-13 in second-chance points.
NOTEWORTHY: Colorado was without senior Kennedy Leonard for the eighth consecutive game…she continues to be day-to-day…Colorado's 11-game losing streak matches its longest since the 2004-05 season…CU's 20-point first quarter was its highest scoring in Pac-12 play…CU's 11-point lead was its largest in a Pac-12 game this season…Lesila Finau had a season-high five assists…
QUOTEWORTHY: "This game that we played tonight is what we are capable of doing from a competitive standpoint. I don't expect Lex (Robinson) to go for 33 (points) every night, she is probably capable of it, but our competitive nature in tonight's game is the expectation. That truthfully was the biggest difference from last weekend and today." – CU's JR Payne
"I was just trying to be consistent with my scoring. Just being consistent as much as I could. Whatever I can do to help." – CU's Alexis Robinson
"I think we can just keep growing each game and work on the errors that we may struggle on and then grow each game." CU's Quinessa Caylao-Do
NEXT UP: CU continues at home on Sunday against Southern California. Game time is set for 1 p.m. MT.