Snapshot: CU Buffs women 73, California 66

Turning point: Cal tied the game at 54-54 with 5 minutes, 47 seconds to play and about 23 seconds later, CU’s Tameiya Sadler got a steal and converted it into a layup. That sparked an 8-0 Buffs run and they never trailed again.

Buff of the game: Quay Miller. She had a career-high 26 points on 10-of-17 shooting and added five rebounds.

What’s next?: The Buffs visit No. 4 Stanford on Sunday at 3 p.m. MT.

BERKELEY, Calif. – Colorado women’s basketball head coach JR Payne never expected a Friday afternoon visit to Haas Pavilion to be easy.

It didn’t matter that California was 11th in the Pac-12. Payne had watched the Golden Bears take several ranked teams to the wire in recent weeks.

“The first thing out of my mouth when we started watching film on Tuesday was I just looked at all of them and said, ‘This is the most dangerous team in the league right now,’” Payne said.

The 24th-ranked Buffaloes got the battle they expected, but prevailed after making a series of key plays down the stretch, knocking off Cal, 73-66.

“Yeah, 100% I expected the game to look like this,” Payne said. “An athletic matchup, a lot of back and forth. They have players that have the confidence and ability to hit really big shots when they need to, and they rebound.”

CU (15-3, 6-1 Pac-12) did those things too, and won its seventh straight after outscoring the Bears 19-12 in the last 5 minutes, 24 seconds.

“Really proud of our team down the stretch of the game,” Payne said. “We executed some things. We hit some big shots … and then, just to get stops when we needed to and hit free throws (was big).”

Center Quay Miller scored a career-high 26 points to lead the Buffs, getting seven of those in the pivotal fourth quarter. She scored 11 points in the opening quarter.

“I think that my scoring came from my energy and everyone’s energy, to be honest,” she said.

Cal (10-8, 1-6) hit a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to take a 46-43 lead into the fourth quarter. It was only the third time this year CU has trailed going into the final frame, but it rallied down the stretch.

“We just came together,” Miller said. “We go into every game together, we finish every game together. And I think that’s one of our biggest things, to stick together through adversity. That’s one of the main things that JR talks about is just being gritty and having toughness. I think that’s what we did, just came together, understood the assignment and executed.”

The game was tied four separate times in the fourth quarter before the Buffs’ defense forced three turnovers and turned those into a 8-0 run to take a 62-54 lead.

Jaylyn Sherrod drilled a 3-pointer and then buried two free throws to extend the lead to 10 with 1:39 to play and CU held on from there.

Cal had just 14 turnovers, but five of those came in the fourth quarter and CU converted those into eight points.

“We just understood that we needed to lock in defensively,” Miller said. “That’s where it starts so we can start pushing in transition. It’s not hard for us to turn our defense up because we’re a defensive team. Once we do that, everything starts falling in our way.”

The Buffs took a 26-16 lead early in the second quarter on a Miller 3-pointer, but then the offense cooled, letting Cal back in the game.

It was a tight game throughout the second half as the Buffs had some defensive lapses and piled up turnovers. Of the Buffs’ 15 total turnovers, 11 came in the second half. CU countered by that, however, by shooting 59.1% from the floor after intermission.

In the fourth quarter, the Buffs scored 30 points — a season high for one quarter — by going 9-for-11 (81.8%) from the floor and 10-for-10 at the free throw line.

With the win, the Buffs remained in a first-place tie in the Pac-12 with the winner of Friday’s matchup between No. 4 Stanford and No. 8 Utah.

“I think it was a must win,” Payne said. “This game was just an absolute hugely important game for a lot of different reasons. To be able to win down the stretch in a tough environment, tons of kids and it was loud and things like that. It helps you later down the road when you’re gonna have to do it again.”

No. 24 Colorado 73, California 66

COLORADO (15-3, 6-1 Pac-12)

Sherrod 4-10 6-6 15, Jones 0-2 0-0 0, Formann 1-7 4-4 7, Miller 10-17 3-4 26, Vonleh 6-10 1-2 13, Sadler 3-3 2-2 8, Wetta 1-2 0-0 2, Wynn 1-3 0-0 2, McLeod 0-1 0-2 0, Whittaker 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 26-55 16-20 73.

CALIFORNIA (10-8, 1-6)

McIntosh 5-11 0-1 12, Martin 3-11 0-0 9, Lutje Schipholt 7-11 3-5 17, Curry 5-14 0-0 13, Tuitele 0-4 0-0 0, Onyiah 2-7 3-4 7, Ortiz 1-3 0-0 3, Langarita 2-4 0-0 5. Totals 25-65 6-10 66.

Colorado                     22        12        9          30        –           73

California                    16        13        17        20        –           66

3-point goals – CU 5-15 (Miller 3-6, Formann 1-5, Sherrod 1-3, Wynn 0-1), Cal 10-23 (Martin 3-8, Curry 3-6, McIntosh 2-5, Ortiz 1-2, Langarita 1-2). Rebounds – CU 39 (Vonleh, Sadler 8), Cal 35 (Onyiah 8). Assists – CU 13 (Sherrod, Wetta 3), Cal 16 (McIntosh 6). Steals – CU 9 (Formann 3), Cal 6 (McIntosh, Onyiah 2). Turnovers – CU 15, Cal 14. Total fouls – CU 18, Cal 18. Fouled out – Vonleh. A – 2,394.

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