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WOMENS BASKETBALL


Colorado 81, Arizona State 68

Colorado 81, Arizona State 68

BY JOHN MARSHALL
ASSOCIATED PRESS

TEMPE, Ariz. - Colorado had everything working during a massive first-half run, building a 25-point lead that would grow to 28.

With a few key players resting to start the fourth quarter, the Buffaloes nearly threw it all away.

Good thing they built that big cushion.

Aaronette Vonleh scored 18 of her 20 points in the first half and No. 5 Colorado staved off a late run to beat Arizona State 81-68.

“In this league where everybody’s so good, you have to be consistent,” Colorado coach JR Payne said. “You can’t play so well and so poorly. We’ve got to be able to balance that out. But I thought, in spurts, I thought we played really, really well.”

The Buffaloes (13-1, 3-0 Pac-12) had to survive two potential game-winning shots in the final 10 seconds on Friday to pull out a 75-74 win over Arizona.

Colorado found a lot less resistance from short-handed Arizona State (8-7, 0-3) in the first half.

The Buffaloes scored the game’s first nine points, had a brief defensive lapse to let the Sun Devils back in it, and then raced away.

Keyed by its defense, Colorado went on a 26-2 run spanning the first and second quarters to build a 23-point lead. The Buffaloes went into a fourth-quarter funk, but held on for their first 3-0 conference start in 27 years and first sweep of the Pac-12’s Arizona schools since 2012-13.

“We’re doing things that haven’t been done in decades. I mean, that’s incredible, that’s amazing,” Payne said. “Now let’s make sure we shore up the things that we didn’t do well so that we can play even better next time.”

The Sun Devils trailed by 24 heading into the fourth quarter before turning up their defensive pressure to pull within 78-68. Colorado went more than eight minutes without a field goal and hit two in the quarter before holding on to win its seventh straight.

Jalyn Brown keyed the run and finished with 35 points, most by an Arizona State player since 2000.

“I challenged our team at halftime just to fight and they responded.,” Arizona State coach Natasha Adair said. “Just really proud of this group and how we’re building the chemistry that we’re building, and their growth from from day to day, game to game.”

Vonleh dominated in the paint early, opening up the rest of Colorado’s offense.

The 6-foot-3 junior got the the big run started with six straight points before going out with a left leg injury. Maddie Nolan hit two of her three 3-pointers in the second quarter during the run, Vonleh returned and the Buffaloes built the lead to 43-20.

Colorado hit 19 of 35 shots in the first half to lead 50-25.

“We just can’t have those lulls, whether it’s because of a bad call or if it’s because of a missed shot,” Adair said. “You just have to reset quicker and lock in.”

BROWN’S DAY

A transfer from Louisville, Brown leads the the Sun Devils with 16 points per game and got off to a superb start against Colorado with 12 points in the first quarter. The 6-1 guard kept scoring, finishing 11 for 23 from the field, 11 of 12 on free throws and had five rebounds with four assists.

“It’s hard to match up with her because she’s so athletic, but also really long and can shoot and do so many different things,” Payne said.

BIG PICTURE

Colorado: The fourth quarter wasn’t great, but the Buffaloes held on for their seventh two-game weekend sweep since joining the Pac-12 in 2011.

Arizona State: The Sun Devils went on a furious rally in the fourth quarter, but had fallen into too big of a hole to finish off the comeback.


January 7, 2024





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