Buffs lose heartbreaker to Wazzu 79-78, fall in first round of Pac-12 tourney

The Washington State Cougars did not let an early deficit to the Colorado Buffaloes get them down. At the end of the first period of play, the Cougars found themselves staring down the barrel of a gun, down 12 points 25-13 to Colorado.

However, Wazzu bounced back and embarked on its own quarter of dominance, outscoring CU in the second quarter 24-8. At the end of the night, Washington State squeaked out a close win 79-78, sending the Buffs home with a quick exit from the Pac-12 Tournament. 

Washington State was led by Alexys Swedlund, who scored 23 points. She made her presence felt from three-point range, going 4-of-6, swinging the momentum of the game in favor of the Cougars. 

However, it was not just Swedlund that the Buffaloes had difficulty containing, but a number of other Wazzu players that proved to be deadly from the field. Caila Hailey had 17 points, Kayla Washington scored 12 points and Pinelopi Pavlopoulou added another 10 points, with the majority of her shots coming from beyond the arch. 

The Cougars move on in the tournament and play Stanford on March 3, at 7:00 p.m (MST), at the KeyArena in Seattle, Washington.

When the Buffs look back on the game, they will most likely look at their inability to capitalize on opportunities that presented themselves throughout the game. For starters, the Buffaloes went cold from the field after the first quarter, letting Washington State back into the game.

Colorado managed to shoot just over 49 percent from the field in the loss, but the missed shots early hurt. The Buffs’ inefficient second quarter also came back to haunt them.

Senior forward Haley Smith likely capped her Buffaloes career (the Buffs still have a shot at making the WNIT Tournament) with another great performance. She led the team with 21 points in her final Pac-12 tournament appearance, while shooting 8-of-10 from the floor. Smith was perfect from long range, sinking all four of her three-pointers.

Sophomore guard Alexis Robinson added 17 points and sophomore forward Makenzie Ellis scored 11 in the loss.

The Buffaloes had a chance to tie the game up with a three-point play with 12 seconds remaining. Sophomore guard Kennedy Leonard was fouled hard as she drove to the basket. She made the key layup that made the score 79-78. Leonard was hurt on the play however and freshman forward Monica Burich subbed in to shoot the free throw. She missed the shot, inevitably leading to the Buffaloes’ loss. 

The Buffaloes gave a valiant effort in the game. The close loss seemed to resonate with the close-but-no-cigar theme of Colorado’s turnaround season under first-year head coach JR Payne. The Buffaloes won 15 games this season, but went only 5-13 in conference games. Close loses haunted the team during Pac-12 play, but should be a welcomed improvement. The 15 wins more than doubled the seven games that the team managed to win in 2015-16.

Contact CU Independent Sports Staff Writer Yama Radtke at yamahilo@yahoo.com.

Justin Guerriero

Head Sports Editor Justin Guerriero is a city boy from Pittsburgh, PA, who fell in love with the mountains upon touring CU Boulder for the first time prior to his freshman year. He is a diehard Pittsburgh sports fan and covers whatever needs to be covered at the CUI. Justin is a junior majoring in broadcast production with minors in history and communication. Follow him on Twitter @TheHungry_Hippo

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