Coming off a Sweet 16 berth, the Colorado women’s basketball team made a massive statement on opening night in 2023. They beat the defending National Champion and No. 1 seed LSU 92-78! The Buffaloes were led by the three-headed monster of Frida Formann, Jaylyn Sherrod, and Aaronette Vonleh. Formann was a star, especially in the second half, as the Danish guard cashed in seven threes on her way to 27 points. In the second half, Formann was there to knock down a big shot every time the Buffs needed it.
“What a great game,” head coach JR Payne said. “Just proud of our team. I’m always proud of our team, we’ve got great young women in our program. I love their tenacity, I love their fearlessness, I love their grit, and toughness. It’s what we’re built upon. So, for a game like this that a large part of the world said no to, a large part of the world said ‘Why would you play that game?’ It was everything that we wanted. We wanted a challenge, we wanted to take our team into the national spotlight so that I could show the world how great they are.”
Photo Cred: Buff Zone
Sherrod was the driving force behind the Buffs’ success, as she always is. The fifth-year point guard kicked off her final season in Boulder with a stellar 19 points, eight rebounds, six assists, and three steals that exemplified everything she is for this team. She was a force on both ends, creating havoc defensively and pushing the ball in transition to get easy looks for her and her teammates.
Vonleh was there to clean up the mess whenever Colorado needed and was a force on the inside, matching Angel Reese all night. She finished with an efficient 24 points on 11-for-15 shooting and added six rebounds. The Buffaloes came out a little slow offensively, but their team defense kept them around until the offense could heat up in the half court. LSU guarded well early on and took a 16-14 lead into the second quarter. In the second, the Buffs really started to heat up, still making things hard on the Tigers’ offense. They also found a rhythm of their own scoring the ball, taking a 38-32 lead into the break.
Photo Cred: NCAA
“We kind of re-centered ourselves at halftime on what we needed to do to continue to be successful,” Payne said. “Don’t get outside ourselves, just play great basketball one possession at a time. I think that allowed us to continue playing the way we were.”
After the half, it was all CU. Colorado scorched the nets from the outside time and time again, racking up 54 second half points and eventually pulling away from the defending champs. They never letting the Tigers get within 11 points in the fourth quarter on their way to a massive statement win. Formann knocked down six of her seven threes after halftime, constantly halting LSU’s momentum and keeping the Buffs comfortably in front.
Defensively, the Buffaloes excelled in the season opener, keeping LSU’s stars relatively in check and forcing 19 turnovers. Angel Reese notched a modest double-double with 15 points and 12 rebounds, and Hailey Van Lith added 14 points with seven assists. Freshman Mikaylah Williams was the Tigers’ most consistent form of offense in her first college game, leading the team with 17 points.
Photo Cred: CU
As a team, the Buffaloes turned the ball over 21 times but mitigated that sloppiness by shooting the ball at a blistering clip as a team. For the game, Payne’s group shot 53% from the floor and 43% from three, scoring 92 points against a team that projects as a great defense. Moving forward, the Buffs have put themselves on the map as one of the top teams in women’s college basketball this season.