LAS VEGAS – Playing what proved to be her final game in a Colorado uniform, Alexis Robinson did everything she could to extend her career another day. But 20th-ranked and No. 5 seed Arizona State overcame a strong effort from the CU senior and won 66-49 in the first round of the Pac-12 Tournament at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
CU's season came to an end with a 12-18 record. ASU improved to 20-9 and will face No. 4 seed UCLA on Friday in the quarterfinals.
"Today was sort of the epitome of our entire season, sort of being the underdog and undermanned and facing adversity, but just continuing to never back down, never stop fighting, staying together and playing really hard for each other," head coach JR Payne said. "I thought we showed tremendous toughness and togetherness today so I'm really proud of our team."
Robinson finished with 19 points, including four 3-pointers. She had 14 points in the second half on 4-of-8 shooting. Quinessa Caylao-Do added 12 points and five rebounds.
"I was just trying to do whatever it took to win," Robinson said. "I know I can shoot it so that's what I did--try to get it, create open shots for myself and create open shots for the rest of my teammates."
ASU, which entered the game 11th in the Pac-12 in 3-point field goals, caught fire from deep. The Sun Devils tied a season-high with 11 3-pointers, the most they have made against a Pac-12 opponent this season (previous high vs. Pac-12 team was eight). Fifth-year senior Courtney Ekmark had 18 points and hit 6-of-12 from the outside while adding seven rebounds.
TURNING POINT: Robinson caught fire late in the second and that momentum carried into the third quarter. Trailing by 18 points late in the second quarter, her 3-pointer sparked a 6-0 run to close the half. Robinson stayed hot in the third quarter and scored 12 consecutive points for CU late in the period to help pull the team within one point late in the third.
HOW IT HAPPENED: The Buffs were held to just 20 percent shooting in the first quarter, but kept close with the Sun Devils throughout the period, trailing 13-7 at the first break. ASU built a quick 6-0 lead, but the Buffs worked their way back to pull within 6-5 at the 4-minute mark.
ASU's 13-2 run early in the second quarter pushed the Buffs' deficit to 29-11, but they recovered at the end of the first half with some strong defense. They held the Sun Devils scoreless in the final 2:30 and scored six points to pull within 29-17 at halftime.
Sophomore Annika Jank buried a 3-pointer to open the second half and the Buffs immediately cut their deficit to single digits. CU scored the first seven points of the second half to trim the deficit to 29-24 and force an ASU timeout with 5:22 remaining, a 13-0 run stretching back to the second quarter. Colorado's defense held the Sun Devils to 0-for-7 shooting with three turnovers over the first five minutes of the second half.
"We were creating offense with our defense," Payne said of the run early in the third quarter. "We were forcing turnovers and we had really changed the tempo of the game with our defense...it was just toughness defensively and getting stops."
Robinson drilled a 3-pointer after an ASU free throw, bringing the Buffs within 30-27 at 3:59. After the Sun Devils hit a 3-pointer on the ensuing possession, Robinson answered right back with another one.
She stayed hot, but so did ASU. At one point in the third quarter, Robinson scored 12 straight points for CU, burying three consecutive shots from the outside and then three straight free throws. Her run brought the Buffs' deficit to 38-36 with 1:40 left in the third quarter and a free throw by Kennedy Leonard got them within 41-40 a minute later. But the Sun Devils kept pace and held on to a 43-40 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
Arizona State pulled away early in the fourth quarter, outscoring the Buffs 11-2 over the first 4:30 of the final period.
STATISTICS: Beyond Robinson and Caylao-Do, Leonard and Mya Hollingshed each scored six points. CU shot 35.4 percent in the game, including 45.4 percent in the second half. But the Buffs were outrebounded 37-27 and committed 16 turnovers.
NOTES: CU is now 6-8 all-time in the Pac-12 Tournament, including 1-3 under head coach JR Payne...CU is 0-2 as the No. 12 seed...Colorado opened with its 10th different starting lineup of the season…it was the 16th straight game CU has played minus a starter ...Kai Volcy started her first career game...Robinson moved into 18th all-time in scoring at CU (1,285 points)...the Buffs were without starting post player Peanut Tuitele, who missed her third consecutive game with an injury...CU shot 60 percent (6-10) in the third quarter...its the first time CU has finished with less than 15 wins in a season since 2015-16 (7-23 overall).
SENIORS: CU will say goodbye to two seniors in Kennedy Leonard and Alexis Robinson. Leonard finished her career with 1,635 points (7th all-time), 664 assists (1st), 409 rebounds and 238 steals (7th). Robinson wrapped up her career with 1,285 points (18th), 381 rebounds, 258 assists and 163 steals (16th).