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Colorado Buffaloes WBB end Utah’s undefeated run

J.R. Payne’s team is now 13-3 on the season.

NCAA Womens Basketball: Colorado at Stanford Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

The Colorado Buffaloes women’s basketball team continued their hot start by knocking off the undefeated Utah Utes, 77-67, on Friday night.

The Utes were ranked #8 in the country, but this was hardly an upset for J.R. Payne’s team. The two teams held steady in the first half, then the Buffs hit stride early in the 3rd quarter, building a double-digit lead that held steady through the rest of the game. The turning point was a combination of increased defensive intensity — just look at Jaylyn Sherrod’s usual 5 steals — and selfless offense that created easy looks for Quay Miller and sophomore Aaronette Vonleh (Noah’s little sister).

Now 13-3 with five straight wins, the Buffs have had tremendous seasons from Sherrod, Miller, Vonleh and Danish sharpshooter Frida Formann.* Now a full-year removed from a serious knee injury, Sherrod is better than ever, averaging 9.6 points, 5.6 assists and 2.5 steals per game, and is maybe the best defender in the Pac-12. Miller is in her second season in Boulder and has shined with her combination of shooting, rebounding and high-post passing. Vonleh and Formann have been elite role players — Vonleh hardly misses from inside the paint and Formann is hitting threes at an elite 41%.

Elsewhere on the roster, Tayanna Jones has been a very solid fifth starter, playing great defense and doing the little things to support the offense. Kindyll Wetta and Tameiya Sadler have provided good energy off the bench, while Jada Wynn has shown promise as a freshman wing. This a deep and talented squad that should absolutely make the NCAA Tournament.

The Buffs are now 2nd in the Pac-12 and will host the #15 Arizona Wildcats (Friday, Jan. 13) and the Arizona State Sun Devils (Sunday, Jan. 15) next weekend. The conference is loaded every year and they’re going to need to pocket these home wins if they’re going to keep up with Stanford, Utah, UCLA, Arizona and Oregon, each of whom are ranked in the Top 25. (CU should join that list on Monday, for what it’s worth.)

*Fun fact: I work for the same Copenhagen basketball club that Frida played at from youth through high school.