After experiencing the highs of top-15 national rankings and the lows of time at the bottom half of the Pac-12, the 2013-14 season was tumultuous for the Colorado women’s basketball team.
Friday’s 69-54 loss to Stanford in the Pac-12 Tournament marked the end of Colorado’s dismal conference campaign. Awaiting a possible bid in the NIT, the Buffs boast a 17-14 overall record and a 7-13 conference record.
Colorado had big expectations coming into the season. Ranked No.19 in the preseason AP and Coaches polls, the Buffs looked to continue the success of last year’s team that went 25-7 and earned a No. 5 seed in the NCAA tournament. Early on, it seemed like they would reach that goal, accumulating nine wins to start the season before a loss Louisville, who was ranked No. 7 in the country at the time.
Conference play began with a loss to the USC Trojans, who would go on to win the Pac-12 tournament. Colorado lost five of its first six conference games, and junior starting guard Jasmine Sborov to a fractured foot. Less than two weeks after Sborov’s injury, a loss to the University of California in early January caused the Buffs to fall off the AP poll altogether.
The Buffs continued to limp through their conference schedule, accumulating further injuries in the backcourt. Reeling from a leg injury that kept junior guard Lexy Kresl out for three games and a head injury that left senior guard Brittany Wilson sidelined for two, the Buffs failed to win more than two games in a row during Pac-12 play. Closing out the regular season, Colorado took one final blow — a shoulder injury to junior forward Jen Reese against UCLA on February 28. Reese was out for the remainder of the season.
Despite regression from last year, this season provided bright moments and players to keep an eye on. Before her injury, Reese had become a key contributor to this Colorado team, averaging 12 points and scoring a career high 22 points in consecutive games against Arizona and Arizona State on Jan. 24 and 26. Reese finished the year ranked second in total points scored on the team behind sophomore forward Arielle Roberson, who showed no signs of a sophomore slump following a 2012-13 freshman season in which she was named Pac-12 Freshman of the Year. On top of averaging 12 points a game, Roberson also averaged 8.4 rebounds per game.
Another notable contributor for the Buffs this season was sophomore forward Jamee Swan, who had a monster game in the Buffs’ 87-77 loss to Stanford in January with 20 points and 13 rebounds. Swan also managed to post double digits in points for five of the Buffs’ last eight games, including her career high of 25 points on Feb. 14 in an 80-87 loss to Washington.
Colorado will lose three seniors going into next year, including starting guard Brittany Wilson. Along with Wilson, the Buffs say goodbye to center Rachel Hargas and guard Ashley Wilson. But the Buffs can look forward to the return of four starters, and hopefully the healthy returns of Sborov and Reese.
Whether or not Colorado will participate in the women’s NCAA and National Invitation Tournaments will be confirmed on Monday, March 17. It is all but assured that the Buffs will not be invited to this year’s NCAA tournament, but considering their winning record and the relative difficulty of the Pac-12 competition pool, it’s hard to imagine the Buffs not participating in next week’s WNIT.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Sam Routhier at Samuel.firstname.lastname@example.org.