After surviving a tightly contested 62-54 victory over the Oregon State Beavers, the Colorado Buffaloes are set to face the Washington State Cougars in the Pac-12 tournament semifinals, but their victory over the 11-seeded Beavers didn’t come easy.

Although Colorado came out of the gates relatively hot on offense, their inability to defend the three-point line made it impossible for them to keep pace early.

An early two-point lead quickly turned into a one-point deficit. CU would recapture the lead, and hold it for a few possessions but then quickly find themselves down two points. 90 seconds after that they’re down 5, and have just allowed OSU three-pointers on consecutive possessions.

Oregon State shot the lights out of the gym in the first quarter, tallying 20 points against the mighty Buffs’ defense, and hitting on 80% of their attempts from downtown.

That trend carried into the first section of the second quarter, as the Beavers nullified the Buffaloes’ first three-point shot of the night with a quick three-point retort, and then hit yet another deep shot to extend their lead to eight, at 31-24.

Without any three-point luck of their own (CU was 1-for-5 on threes at this point in the game, while OSU was 6-for-7), and with Quay Miller unable to create anything on offense, the squad was unable to hold serve.

But just when it looked like the Buffaloes would be the second Goliath to fall at the hands of the Beavers’ David, Jaylyn Sherrod disrupted the game with her combination of aggressiveness and speed.

Sherrod intercepted a pass, and while darting down the court, was fouled. Her continued pestering of Oregon State kept their offense impotent and allowed the senior guard to blitz down the floor again to create another opportunity at the free-throw line, where she went 2-for-2.

Frida Formann then stirred Colorado’s own long-range attack to life, when she cooked an Oregon State defender with the help of an Aaronette Vonleh screen, completing a 9-2 Colorado run to knot the game back up entering the half.

The key factors that led to that run — Sherrod’s sweltering pace of play forcing mistakes for the Beavers and the Buffaloes’ defense refusing to allow any more open three-point shots for Oregon State — carried into the second half, and ultimately, defined CU’s victory.

After an exchange of opening barbs that put the Colorado Buffaloes in a 36-37 hole, J.R. Payne’s crew finally erupted with the defensive identity that brought them this far in the first place. The ensuing flow of magma swallowed up the Oregon State Beavers offense, and created a 15-2 run for CU.

That run brought the score to 51-41 in favor of Colorado, and helped close the penultimate quarter.

After allowing 20 points in the first quarter, and 31 points in the first 15 minutes, J.R. Payne watched her defense allow just 10 points over the next 15.

Sherrod constantly swarmed the ball like an angry hornet, poking and prodding at the ball to create some sort of mistake, and she was regularly successful at upsetting the flow of the opposing offense as a result.

As impressive as Sherrod was during the Buffaloes’ takeover of the game, Vonleh might have been even more so. Through three quarters, she shot 75 percent from the field, and led the team with 15 points. Her offensive impact was instrumental in Colorado’s success, as they got nothing from their other star big — Miller.

In the fourth quarter, the Colorado Buffaloes’ offense ground to a halt, and opened the door for a potential Oregon State comeback, but just as quickly as that door squeaked open, it was slammed shut in the face of the Beavers.

OSU missed a pair of threes, including an airball. Their shooting had dramatically cooled. With a chance to redeem themselves, Sherrod made her presence felt once again, by intercepting the Beavers’ inbound pass to give possession back to CU and deliver the dagger into the heart of the Buffaloes’ opponent.

Colorado now gets the opportunity to play the aforementioned Washington State Cougars on Friday Night for a trip to the finals. Unfortunately for them, the Cougars might be the most dangerous team down in Vegas right now, after cruising by California and No. 3 ranked Utah — the conference’s top team and a favorite to win the National Championship.

Considering how much CU just struggled with 11-seed OSU, WSU has a serious chance to further their Cinderella run to a Pac-12 title, especially considering how poor Quay Miller performed today. Miller is the focal point of the Colorado Buffaloes’ attack, and it’s unlikely they’ll survive another ice-cold performance from her (0-for-9 from the field, 0-for-4 from three, three turnovers, and four personal fouls.

To beat Washington State, J.R. Payne will need everyone’s best showing.