Colorado wasn’t going to be denied this time.
Not after two heart-breakers in the last week, and certainly not on senior day.
After several excruciating losses to the cream of the crop in the Pac-12 this season, the CU women’s basketball team dominated the fourth quarter to upset No. 11 Arizona, 50-38, on Sunday at CU Events Center.
The Buffs (16-11, 5-11 Pac-12) snapped a 32-game losing streak to Associated Press-ranked opponents, dating back to a 79-69 win against No. 15 Kentucky on Nov. 19, 2016.
“It’s incredible,” CU head coach JR Payne said. “It’s really hard to describe. I don’t know if it would feel as good if we hadn’t had such heartbreaking losses, but to see us grow in ways that we know we’re capable of and to really finish the game was pretty awesome.”
CU had lost four times this season by eight points or less to ranked opponents. That included a crushing, buzzer-beating loss to then-No. 8 Stanford a week earlier at home and Friday’s six-point loss to 21 Arizona State. In both games, the Buffs held fourth quarter leads.
On Sunday, Amari Carter hit a 3-pointer with 6 minutes, 35 seconds left to give Arizona (22-5, 11-5) a 38-35 lead. Arizona, which played without star Aari McDonald, didn’t score again, as the Buffs closed the game on a 15-0 run.
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“I think in the past games that we’ve had on these close ones, the last five or six minutes, we’re kind of playing on the not-aggressive end, so we kind of shoot ourselves in the foot in that we’re trying not to make mistakes and then we end up changing the trajectory of the game,” sophomore Aubrey Knight said. “In this game, we were like, ‘Ok, we need to take smart shots and we need to get stops.’ We always talk about how defense helps our offense. When we’re playing good defense, it helps us do better on the offensive end and that’s definitely what happened down the stretch.”
Jaylyn Sherrod had 12 points, seven rebounds and four assists, while Knight posted 10 points and eight rebounds. CU’s lone senior, Quinessa Caylao-Do, finished with four points and two assists and keyed the Buffs’ defensive effort in her final regular season home game.