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RR Ralphie Report: Buffaloes can’t handle Caitlin Clark and Iowa, fall to Hawkeyes in Sweet Sixteen


News Junkie
NCAA Womens Basketball: NCAA Tournament Albany Regional-Colorado vs Iowa

Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

Colorado’s season ends in Albany

Colorado’s fantastic 2023-24 campaign has reached its eventual end, as the Buffaloes fell to the Iowa Hawkeyes in a Sweet Sixteen matchup by a final score of 68-89.

This was an ugly one for the Buffs from begin to end, as Iowa led wire-to-wire. The Hawkeyes held a double-digit lead for the vast majority of the game and Colorado’s game of catch-up proved to be futile. At the end of the day, CU just couldn’t hang with the star-studded Hawkeyes.

Nothing really went right for the Buffaloes in Albany, especially on the offensive floor. Colorado shot the ball poorly, no other way to put it. The Buffs shot just 37.5% (27-72) from the field and a less than ideal 8 of 29 from deep.

CU had plenty of open looks, but they just weren’t falling. Along with missing good looks and forcing threes, Colorado just couldn’t take advantage of the opportunities they created for themselves. The Buffs forced a whopping 19 Iowa turnovers, but only managed to convert those into 14 points. The same story goes for offensive rebounding, as Colorado scored only 12 second chance points on 16 offensive boards.

Compounded with a rough offensive showing, Caitlin Clark proved to be simply unstoppable. As you’d expect from the best player in America and the consensus first overall pick in the upcoming WNBA Draft, Clark torched the Buffaloes when the ball found her hands.

Clark finished the game with 29 points, which is actually a tad below her season average of 31.8 points per game. Clark didn’t shoot the ball especially well from three, only going 3 for 11, but made 10 of her 11 shots within the arc to help compensate.

Clark’s stellar shooting wasn’t what really killed the Buffs, but her passing was the nail in CU’s coffin. Iowa’s superstar was dishing out insane passes all game long, feeding her teammates and getting them easy buckets. Clark’s 15 assists helped all five of Iowa’s starters rack up double-digit scoring figures, essentially burying all hope the Buffaloes had.

Another thing working against Colorado’s favor was foul trouble, as Quay Miller and Aaronette Vonleh had to sit the majority of the first half after both picked up two early fouls. Having two of your best three players on the floor during the first half would have certainly helped the Buffs, but that’s not just the way things shook out. Iowa is renowned for their ability to force their opponents into foul trouble and the Buffs got to experience that first hand on Saturday.

When on the floor, Vonleh was dominant, leading the Buffs in scoring with 13 points and 5 rebounds. Frida Formann and Maddie Nolan provided an offensive spark, as both guards made three triples and finished with 12 points. Kindyll Wetta’s 5 steals helped Colorado slow Iowa’s high-flying offense. The Buffs had some impressive individual performances, but ultimately couldn’t get the job done in Albany.

The season may not have ended the way they wanted, but the Buffs had one hell of a year. We’ll never forget them upsetting #1 ranked LSU in Vegas to start the season and those home wins against Stanford and USC. JR Payne has restored Colorado’s women’s basketball program to its glory days, establishing an impeccable culture and sky-high standards.

We have no doubt that the Buffs will be back to the Sweet Sixteen sooner rather than later. In the meantime, let’s celebrate this historic season from a historic group. Thanks for a fantastic season, Buffaloes! We’ll be talking about this group in Boulder for a very long time.

by RylandScholes
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