CU Women's Basketball
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By: B.G. Brooks, Contributing Editor
BOULDER – April approaches and the Colorado women’s basketball team plays on. Arielle Roberson’s second-half scoring and her team’s overall shot blocking swept CU past Southern Utah 79-68 on Saturday night and into the third round of the WNIT.
Roberson opened the second half with a 3-pointer, launching the Buffaloes on a 17-5 run that produced their largest lead of the game – 45-26. Held scoreless in the first half, Roberson finished with a team-high 15 points, collected 11 rebounds for her seventh double-double of the season, and added a career-best five of CU’s 14 blocked shots – the second-most in team history.
“That was a tough team we played,” CU coach Linda Lappe said. “Southern Utah does so many good things . . . we had a tough time scoring in first half. Their defense was stingy, but I really liked the way we opened the second half; we had a different level of energy. At the end we were able to do just enough to hold on to our lead and win.”
The Buffs (19-14) defeated the Thunderbirds (23-10) for the second time this season, claiming a 75-59 win in their final non-conference game on Dec. 29, also at the Coors Events Center.
CU’s next WNIT opponent and game site are to be determined. The Buffs advanced with a 78-71 first-round win over TCU, while the Thunderbirds moved into the second round with a 71-56 win over Colorado State.
CU closed Saturday night’s first half with a 12-5 run that produced a 28-21 lead at intermission. Then, the Buffs opened the final 20 minutes with a 17-5 surge to begin pulling away. They led by as many as 19 points but the T-Birds, who never led, closed to within nine points twice in the final 3 minutes. CU hit seven of 10 free throws in the final 1:23 to put the game out of reach.
Roberson said she opened the game “timid . . . I was just going through the motions. It was just a mindset.” She took only two first-half shots, which she said drew a halftime admonishment from associate head coach Jonas Chatterton.
“Coach Jonas was saying ‘shoot the ball,’” Roberson recalled, and in the second half she did. Roberson hit six of her eight field goal attempts. “I just hit the switch,” she said. “In the second half I decided to be myself again and just go out there, be aggressive and play.”
Lappe said Roberson wasn’t “really going, getting touches” in the first half. “She needs our offense to work, to move around her” while she “moves within the offense . . . she was on the receiving end of that (and) stepped up within the flow of the offense.”
Lappe also reiterated Roberson’s thought about her second-half play: “I thought she came out with a different mindset.”
But Roberson had plenty of help. Rachel Hargis tied a career high with 12 points and contributed four steals, while Lexy Kresl added 12 points, six rebounds and four assists. Brittany Wilson was CU’s fourth double-figure scorer with 11 points, while her twin sister Ashley added eight points.
The Buffs went up 6-0 on consecutive 3-pointers by Brittany Wilson and held the lead until the T-birds went to Carli Moreland, a senior from Broomfield. She scored six straight points to pull Southern Utah into a 16-16 tie with 5:42 left before the break.
But that deadlock served as a launch point for the Buffs. They closed the half with a 12-5 run and led 28-21 at intermission, with a catch-and-shoot 3-pointer by Kresl on an in-bounds play at the shot clock buzzer highlighting the surge.
Moreland, meanwhile, got the T-Birds’ final five points of the half, giving her 11 straight. She finished with a game-high 17, with Desiree Harris coming off the bench to add 16.
Roberson had three first-half blocks and got her fourth – setting a career high – in the first minute of the second half. Lappe attributed her team’s 14 blocks to “great help-side” defense, with Roberson adding that communication was a big factor. “I think we did that very well in practice . . . I think it just carried over.”
After Roberson’s trey to open the second-half scoring, Hargis scored on a left-handed spin move and the Buffs were up 33-21, prompting a Southern Utah timeout with 18:22 to play. When the Buffs got one of two free throws from Ashley Wilson and a jumper from Roberson, their lead jumped to 15 (36-21) and the T-Birds were on the ropes.
Lappe called Hargis’ shot “huge. It helped our whole mindset in the second half. Rachel took really good shots and that’s the key . . . she wasn’t in a rush and was just taking her time.”
In scoring 51 second-half points, the Buffs shot 60.7 percent (17-of-28) from the field and finished at 47.9 percent (23-of-48) for the game. The T-Birds scored 27 points off of the Buffs’ 24 turnovers, but CU limited the visitors to 34.5 percent shooting (19-of-55) and held a 21-8 advantage in second-chance points.
That the Buffs are still playing is a large bonus for seniors such as Hargis and the Wilson sisters. “It’s always great to be able to continue to play when other teams are going home and other careers are done,” Hargis said. “We want to play as long as we can; it’s an awesome feeling.”
March 20, 2014
Swan’s play was key to the victory
BOULDER—It took the Buffs nearly six minutes to knock off the rust of a 12-day layoff. They then spent the game’s final 34 minutes rediscovering a level of efficiency that had been lost for the better part of the season, as they defeated the TCU Horned Frogs 78-71 in the first round of the Women’s National Invitational Tournament at the Coors Events Center on Wednesday.
Trailing 19-11 with 14:01 left in the first half, the Buffs suddenly switched into a different gear as they finished the half on a 32-11 run that also saw them shoot a resounding 55 percent from the field over that span. They then fought off a furious Horned Frogs rally in the game’s final few minutes and now will advance to the second round of the WNIT where they will play the winner of Thursday night’s Colorado State-Southern Utah game. The date and location of the second-round matchup will be announced by the WNIT shortly following that contest up in Fort Collins.
“We’re extremely excited to have our season continue,” said head coach Linda Lappe. “It was also good to get back into the flow of things and get that rust off. We really came out and started attacking their zone, which was a huge key and we got some easy baskets off of that.”
One of the team’s best offensive performances of the season was sparked by a bench that outscored its opponents’ 36-3. Jamee Swan provided the biggest boost off the bench as her 16 points paced an offense a unit that struggled to find its way in the game’s opening minutes. Trailing by eight at that tedious point early in the game, the Buffs bench proceeded to score 15 of the team’s next 20 points and help turn a deficit into 31-24 lead in just over eight minutes. By the end of the half that surge of momentum had translated into a 43-30 halftime lead.
“I thought everyone that came in was solid,” said Lappe. “(Desiree Harris) gave us some good minutes.Lauren Huggins gave us some good minutes, and Zoe (Beard-Fails) did as well. That allowed us to keep everybody fresh and we also wanted to try and get our young kids some post-season experience. You could see a lot of the hard work that they put in over this past week carry over into today and it really helped us.”
With 16:59 remaining, the Buffs’ lead had ballooned to as much as 17 (47-30). But, before the Buffs even began to breathe a sigh of relief, the Horned Frogs went on a 24-7 run of their own, ignited by an effective full-court press defense, that ultimately culminated in a 59-59 tie with just over five minutes to play.
“TCU’s a good team,” said Lappe. “They’re quick, they’re athletic and they can cause a lot of problems with their pressure. We wanted to make stronger and better cuts through the center of their defense. I think we handled it pretty well but we didn’t do a good job in letting them back in the game, but I did like our composure when that happened.”
After an offensive lull allowed the Horned Frogs back into the game, CU went more than six minutes without a field goal. It was a renewed level of defensive tenacity that eventually helped them win it.
TCU guard Zahna Medley’s short jump shot tied the game at the 5:10 mark. Two Haley Smith free throws helped CU regain a 61-59 lead on the ensuing possession. Facing the most critical juncture in the game,Lexy Kresl swiped a TCU pass leading to a fast break layup by Arielle Roberson giving the Buffs a four point lead officially swinging the game’s momentum for the final time.
After a timeout and two TCU free throws, it was only fitting that Swan would take center stage once again as she had done all night. Swan converted three times in the paint on the next four CU possessions and the Buffs once again had a double digit lead.
“Everybody comes to play and I wouldn’t have been able to do it without the passes or the looks that I got from my teammates,” said Swan. “You can’t do it by yourself. As a team as a whole, I wouldn’t be able to do it without them.”
Swan wasn’t the only Buff who had a big night offensively. Roberson, who pulled down a career-high 17 rebounds 12 days ago against Stanford, scored a team-high 18 points on Wednesday.
“I think we did a really good job moving the ball,” said Roberson. “We could basically get anything we wanted. I think we had it in the post all night, and I think our guards also could shoot as much as they wanted. So, I think it was just a matter of your mentality and if you’re going to attack them or fall back on your heels and more often than not we were able to attack them.”
The biggest surprise on the roster continues to be senior guard Ashley Wilson, who scored 13 points. Her incredible performance over the last nine games, averaging 10.8 points per game over that span, has given CU an added dimension on the offensive end of the court. Her recent offensive explosion comes as even more of a shock considering that she had scored in double figures only twice in the first 97 games of her career.
An added motive for the team as they finish out the season has been to send this year’s celebrated senior of class of Wilson sisters Brittany and Ashley and center Rachel Hargis out on a high note.
Hargis played in her 132nd career game on Wednesday which ties the program record originally set by Erin Scholz, who starred on the team from 1993-97. Brittany Wilson played in her 131st career game as she continues to also climb the school’s all-time list.
“We’re very, very happy (to continue our season),” said Roberson. “Not every team gets this opportunity to continue postseason play, so it’s great for us to continue to play with our seniors, and I know it’s great to get this home win. I don’t know if words can describe it, but we’re just really happy.”
Story by B.G. Brooks, Contributing Editor, CUBuffs.com
SEATTLE – College basketball in March is all about surviving and advancing – and the Colorado women’s team did both Thursday afternoon in the opening round of the Pac-12 Conference Tournament.
Overtaking UCLA with a 15-2 run midway through the second half, the Buffaloes defeated the Bruins 76-65 to reach the tournament quarterfinals for the third time since beginning Pac-12 competition in 2011.
But the assignment Friday at KeyArena (1 p.m. MT, Pac-12 Networks) is daunting: No. 9 seed CU (17-13) faces No. 1 seed Stanford (28-2). The Cardinal defeated the Buffs 87-77 on Jan. 12 in Boulder in their only regular-season meeting.
“I think we’re ready for them . . . it’s win or go home,” said CU senior guard Brittany Wilson. “So you lay it all on the floor, and we’re ready. We all have to come out and play 40 minutes. In the end, it’s about who plays 40 minutes the best.”
In defeating the Bruins (13-18) for the third time this season, Wilson and her twin sister, Ashley, gave the Buffs 55 quality minutes between them. The Wilson sisters combined for 33 points – 17 from Brittany, a career-high 16 from Ashley – to offset a game-high 23 points from UCLA sophomore Nirra Fields.
Lexy Kresl contributed 14 points off the bench for the Buffs – nine of them in the second half when they rallied from a 46-38 deficit. Kresl’s 3-pointer – the last of eight in 16 attempts for CU – gave the Buffs their largest lead of the game, 68-56, with 2:50 remaining. The Bruins never got closer than six points the rest of the way.
“I’m really excited for our team,” CU coach Linda Lappe said. “Any time you can win a game in postseason, it’s a plus.”
After a 29-29 halftime tie, the Bruins – despite being minus senior guard and No. 2 scorer Thea Lemberger (concussion) who was averaging 15.0 points – went on an 11-2 run and took their 46-38 lead. But Lappe and the Buffs adjusted defensively, nudging the Bruins out of their comfort zone and disrupting their offense.
Said Lappe: “They were really comfortable (offensively) to start the second half. Everybody was making shots, even players that don’t normally make shots. You could just see them start to get comfortable in what they were doing. I always think your defense has a huge part in that, and we wanted to try to make them uncomfortable, so we started to trap a little bit and tried to speed them up and make them do things they weren’t as comfortable doing, making them pass to players, making them pass over hands, and just increasing our aggressiveness.”
UCLA coach Cori Close agreed: “I thought they really got us out of rhythm in the second half . . . they got out and started denying passing lanes and trapped our first pass and really got us out of rhythm. We’re a team that needs to move the pieces around and hide certain mismatches and take advantage of other ones. They really made us play just a read-and-react type of situation, and it made it a guard game. We needed to attack off the dribble, and we didn’t have quite enough people that were confident in that kind of game.”
CU’s strategy worked. Of UCLA’s 13 turnovers, eight were committed in the second half. CU, meanwhile, cut its miscues from nine in the first half to four in the second. The Buffs outrebounded the Bruins 43-35 and held them to 38.8 percent shooting from the field (26-of-67). CU shot slightly better at 39.3 percent (24-of-61).
Lappe lauded her bench, which outscored the Bruins’ reserves 28-16, as being “fantastic . . . everybody did their job. Everybody knew their role. When we played together in that game, we were fantastic. When we moved the ball, when we played together defensively, hit the open player, and then we knocked down those open shots and everything seemed to go our way.”
The Wilson sisters accounted for four of CU’s eight 3-pointers, with Brittany hitting three of her six attempts and Ashley one of her two. The Buffs 50 percent performance from behind the arc, bolstered by four-of-six in the second half, followed a frigid 10 percent (3-of-30) from long range in the final three regular-season games. Thursday’s eight 3-pointers tie for the second most of the season.
“Me and coach watched film before we left (Boulder) , and one thing that she noticed about my shots was I was falling out of my shots,” Brittany Wilson said. “She said there is no reason I should be doing that on the three, and just stay in my shot, and that’s exactly what I did and they fell.”
If the Bruins were without Lemberger, the Buffs also were minus their No. 2 scorer – junior Jen Reese, who went down in the first half of the CU-UCLA meeting in Boulder with a broken bone in her shoulder. Ashley Wilson said the Buffs have adjusted well: “With any team, adversity is going to come. So it’s just about how you respond to adversity and how tough you’re willing to be and how much you’re willing to bounce back. We’ve done that all year long, no matter injuries or whatever. No team is going to feel sorry for you because you have injuries. You have to suit up and be ready to go the next day.”
Fields, a 5-9 sophomore, opened the scoring for UCLA and by the time the first half was over had collected 16 of the Bruins’ 29 points. The Buffs matched that total for a 29-29 halftime tie, but no CU player could manage over six points – the Wilson sisters had six each – in the first 20 minutes.
After Fields hit her jumper for the game’s first basket, the Buffs took control and rolled to a 17-10 advantage before the Bruins settled down. The teams traded baskets and the lead until the halftime buzzer ended play at 29-29. UCLA outscored CU 15-7 in the opening 6 minutes of the second half to take an eight-point (46-38) lead before the Buffs regrouped, went on their decisive run, tied the score at 46-46 on a 3-pointer from the right wing by Lauren Huggins and went ahead for good on a basket by Brittany Wilson.
After Kresl’s trey gave them their largest lead – 68-56 – the Buffs finished out their scoring at the free throw line. Their 20-of-24 performance included Kresl and Brittany Wilson each going four-for-four in the final 1:15 to keep UCLA at bay.
The Buffs move on, the Bruins go home. “We’re not ready to be done playing yet, and I think you can see how much intensity we played in the second half that we want to keep playing,” Lappe said. “I’m just excited for our entire team.”
Release: March 02, 2014
By: B.G. Brooks, Contributing Editor
BOULDER – The Colorado women’s basketball team had won its two previous games by going into second-half survival mode, locking down Arizona and UCLA in the last 20 minutes. Twice was nice, but the magic finally fizzled Sunday afternoon against Southern California.
Gritty CU erased a 12-point halftime deficit, even took a one-point lead in the last 2 minutes, but couldn’t close out USC in a 66-59 Pac-12 Conference loss at the Coors Events Center. A 55-45 win in January’s league opener gave the Trojans a series sweep.
Needing a full 40-minute effort to send out seniors Rachel Hargis and the Wilson twins – Ashley and Brittany – on a celebratory note, the Buffaloes’ focus was sporadic in the first half and they couldn’t fully compensate for it in the second.
CU (16-13, 6-12) trailed by as many as 14 points in the first half and nine midway through the second before catching USC (18-12, 11-7) at 56-56 and going ahead 59-58 on an “and-one” by Brittany Wilson with 1:22 remaining.
But the Trojans scored the game’s last eight points – six of them by junior guard Ariya Crook, a former high school teammate of the Wilsons. Crook hit a layup and went four-of-four from the free throw line in the final 56 seconds, finishing with a game-high 18 points.
“You would think at this point in the season with every game meaning something, there would be a lot of focus throughout the game,” CU coach Linda Lappe said, noting her team was “all over the place” mentally in the first half. “For us, the free throw line is something you can look at and see really quickly if we’re focused. When we’re focused, we knock down free throws 70-80 percent of the time. When we’re not, we shoot about 30-45 percent from the line.”
That was one of Sunday’s trouble spots for CU. Although they hit eight more field goals than the Trojans (25-17), that advantage was blunted by the Buffs’ dismal 9-of-21 (42.9 percent) from the free throw line. CU also missed all nine of its 3-point attempts, but had decided edges in points in the paint (40-12), second-chance points (10-3) and bench points (24-17).
Yet falling behind by 14 early, catching up, then falling back late by nine took its toll in spent energy. “You can’t spot a good team 12 points,” said Lappe. “Ultimately we ran out of gas at the end as well as time . . . I thought we came out ready, but it lasted about five minutes, and then we kind of sputtered through the rest of the first half. We turned the ball over too much (20 times) and missed some easy shots.”
Brittany Wilson, who scored a team-best 15 points, said playing catch up for most of the afternoon was a grueling exercise for the Buffs: “I felt it. We were tired, but we were going to fight, and that’s one thing that we’ve done all year. It is hard coming back from a 12-point deficit, but we all knew we could do it, so I thought we did a great job believing that and we gave a great fight at the end.”
CU had held its past two opponents to a combined five field goals in the second half of each game, allowing 22 total points to Arizona and UCLA in winning both games. After watching the Trojans shoot 47.6 percent (10-of-21) in Sunday’s first half, the Buffs tightened up their ‘D’ again in the second half, limiting USC to 25.9 percent (7-of-27).
But the talented Trojans were better down the stretch than either the Wildcats or Bruins, even with senior forward Cassie Harberts (14 points) contending with four fouls.
In addition to Brittany Wilson’s 15 points, Ashley Wilson, freshman Zoe Beard-Fails and sophomore Jamee Swan added 10 each. Hargis scored six, including a foul-line jumper that brought the Buffs to within 56-54 with 3:39 to play.
“It’s funny because at the game on Friday, I passed up that same shot, and this time, I just caught it right in rhythm,” Hargis said. “I actually heard Ashley scream my name, but I was already into the shot, so I just took it and it bounced around. I was ready to grab it if it was coming out, but it rolled it in, so I was glad.”
The Buffs were without junior forward Jen Reese on Sunday and will be for this week’s Pac-12 Conference Tournament and any further postseason play. Reese, averaging 12 points and 5.8 rebounds a game, suffered a broken bone in her left shoulder near the conclusion of the first half in Friday night’s 62-42 win against UCLA. The Buffs, seeded No. 9, and the Bruins, seeded No. 8, play again in Thursday’s Pac-12 opening round in Seattle (1 p.m. MST, Pac-12 Network, KKZN AM 760)
CU stayed close for the first 41/2 minutes Sunday, but after a 10-10 tie USC put together an 18-4 run and took a 14-point lead (28-14) that the Buffs could reduce by only two (34-22) at intermission. If the Buffs were to extend their winning streak to three games, another defensive lock down would be needed in the second half. An upturn on offense might help, too.
CU got both, holding USC without a field goal in the first 6:00 and outscoring the Trojans 14-2 to tie the score at 36-36 on a put-back by Beard-Fails. Brittany Wilson contributed six of the 14 points in CU’s early second-half run.
USC quickly went back in front by nine (47-38) but CU cut into that deficit with two Brittany Wilson free throws, a layup by Swan on a nice feed from Arielle Roberson, then two Swan foul shots, pulling to 49-44 with 8:48 remaining. But a 3-pointer from the top of the key by Desiree Bradley gave USC a 52-44 lead.
The Trojans maintained an eight- or six-point edge until Ashley Wilson hit a layup and Hargis added her foul-line jumper after Wilson’s missed free throw, cutting USC’s lead to 56-54. Swan’s up-and-under layup tied the score at 56-56 with 2:38 left.
Harberts broke the tie (58-56) with two free throws, but Brittany Wilson converted a conventional three-point play with a layup and a foul shot, giving CU a 59-58 lead with 1:21 to play. Unfortunately for the Buffs, the three points by “B-Wil” would be their last of the regular season.
Although CU closed the regular season by winning two of its last three, Lappe said defeating USC would have generated even more momentum for the Pac-12 Tournament. “I thought we had great momentum after the second half against Arizona, and we took that into UCLA, but then tonight we just didn’t have enough,” she said. “Are we getting better? Yes, we’re still getting better. Are we there yet? No. The good thing about this time of the year, and why they call it March Madness, is that anything can happen.”
Still, Hargis said the wins against Arizona and UCLA and Sunday’s refusal to roll over created “some more positive energy going into the tournament. Before, we were kind of down and didn’t know what we could do. We know now that we can be a great team. We just have to buckle down, focus and play the whole 40 minutes, not start off so badly and we just really have to work hard in practice this week to be ready to go Thursday.”
Release: February 28, 2014
By: Anthony Lepine, Student Assistant SID
BOULDER – Colorado’s defense came through again, only allowing UCLA 12 second half points on 3-for-25 shooting as the Buffaloes cruised to a 62-42 victory on Friday night at the Coors Events Center.
Last weekend, the Buffs held Arizona to 10 points in the second half and earned an overtime victory in Tucson after trailing by 20.
The 12 points surrendered ties for the 3rd fewest second half points scored by an opponent in Colorado school history.
“The last four halves felt like we’re getting back to who we are and what Colorado women’s basketball is all about,” CU head coach Linda Lappe said. “Really, how our defense led to our offense that was key.”
Colorado (16-12, 6-11 Pac-12) put the pressure on UCLA from the get-go, forcing UCLA into 11 miscues by intermission, and scored 18 points off 19 Bruins’ turnovers by the games end.
Arielle Roberson notched her second consecutive double-double (sixth of the season) scoring 14 points and grabbing 10 rebounds to lead the Buffaloes, Haley Smith also tallied a career-high 11 points.
The effort from Smith was much needed as Jen Reese, the Buffaloes second-leading scorer, went down hard after taking a charge with 33 seconds remaining in the first half, sustaining a shoulder injury that sidelined her for the remainder of the game.
“It was definitely needed, and I’m really proud of her,” Roberson said of Smith’s performance. “Tonight she was very confident and it was great to see, and it was great to feel, it gave us all confidence in her and she had confidence in us. She helped us big time.”
UCLA (12-17, 6-11 Pac-12) was led by Antonye Nyingifa with 12 points and Thea Lemberger who scored 11. Nyingifa scored eight first half points, and Lemberger seven, respectively.
“I’ve been saying it for about 3-4 weeks now that we’re getting better,” Lappe said. “Even though other people couldn’t see it, I could see it…Now we’re starting to get that edge that we didn’t have. We feel like the season is not over and we want to play well as we go down the stretch here.”
Colorado trailed 30-27 at halftime but began the second period on a 12-2 run capped off by a Smith layup giving the Buffaloes a 39-32 advantage with 11:52 remaining. UCLA made just one of its first 18 shots to start the half, and the Bruins never found a groove.
Nyingifa cut the lead to four on a 3-point play with 7:53 remaining and it appeared UCLA could fight their way back. But, Colorado had other plans and buried the Bruins with a 16-0 run highlighted by a Jamee Swan layup off the fast break and a Roberson and-one play that gave Colorado a 55-39 lead. Ashley Wilson completed the run with a pair of free throws.
The Buffaloes largest lead of the game came with the final points as Smith hit a free throw with 26 seconds remaining to give CU its 20-point margin of victory.
Unlike the final 20 minutes, the first half featured seven lead changes and three ties as the Buffs and Bruins battled to earn the upper hand. Both teams can expect to see each other in the first round of the Pac-12 tournament starting March 6 in Seattle.
The bracket won’t be officially released until Sunday night, however with only one game remaining and the same conference record for both schools, the Buffs and Bruins will make up the No. 8 vs. No. 9 matchup. It will be the third time this season the two teams have faced each other as Colorado won 61-59 on January 5th at Pauley Pavilion.
“We just have to take it one game at a time and for now,” said Swan who finished with 14 points on 6-of-9 shooting. “We’re focused on Sunday, and as soon as we get into the Pac-12 tournament, we’ll focus on [UCLA].”
Colorado concludes its regular season on Sunday taking on the USC Trojans at Noon (Pac-12 Network) when the program will honor three seniors as Rachel Hargis, Ashley Wilson, and Brittany Wilson will play their final game at the Coors Events Center.
Colorado erased a 20-point first half deficit to claim a 61-56 overtime Pac-12 Conference win over Arizona Sunday afternoon at the McKale Center.
Sophomore forward Jamee Swan banked in a short jumper just off the block with 0.9 seconds left in regulation to send the game to overtime. Senior guard Ashley Wilson then scored seven of her 11 points in the extra session to help Colorado (15-12, 5-11) overcome its largest deficit to win in program history from available records since 1982.
“We needed that one,” CU head coach Linda Lappe said. “We battled back in the second half after one of our worst halves of the season. We were able to get it turned around at halftime.”
Arizona (5-22, 1-15) was able to build its lead with an impressive first half performance from the field. The Wildcats hit 14 of their first 20 shots (70 percent) and built a 36-16 lead by the 4:14 mark.
Colorado came out in a zone defense to take away the paint, but Arizona caught fire quickly hitting five 3-pointers in the first 15 minutes including two each from Candice Warthen and Carissa Crutchfield.
The Buffaloes issues were compounded by their own cold shooting and turnovers. Colorado shot just 29 percent in the first half (7-of-24) and committed 12 turnovers. To make matters worse, Arizona took advantage to the tune of 16 points off those turnovers alone.
Colorado was able to whittle the lead down to 16, 39-23, at the break. Swan scored eight points in the final five minutes and had actually cut the Arizona lead to 14 on a pair of free throws with 5 seconds left, but Warthen was able to take the inbounds pass and went coast-to-coast, finishing off with a runner in the late at the halftime buzzer.
With momentum starting to nudge towards Colorado, the Buffaloes put together an epic defensive effort to get to overtime.
Colorado outscored Arizona 26-10 in the second half, holding the Wildcats to just two field goals, and 10 percent shooting (2-of-20), both all-time CU opponent lows for one half. The 10 points allowed to Arizona was an all-time opponent low for a second half, and tied for the second-fewest in any half in team history.
“It was all about our mind set; we didn’t start off the game well and they were getting shots they don’t usually hit,” Lappe said. “We went back to our defense and made sure that we defended them the right way; changed our mind set to getting stops and keeping them from getting easy shots.”
The Buffaloes immediately cut the lead to 39-27 on layups by Swan and Arielle Roberson. After a LaBrittney Jones free throw, Colorado scored the next six, capped off by another Swan bucket as CU trailed 40-33 with 12:50 remaining.
Erica Barnes put in Arizona’s first bucket of the period on the next possession to put the lead back up to nine. But the Buffaloes kept coming. Haley Smith scored four points during another 6-0 CU run and her two free throws with 8:55 left made it a one possession game at 42-39.
Barnes made a free throw and Crutchfield made Arizona’s second and final field goal of the half with 7:14 left to kick the Wildcats’ lead back to six. Freshman guard Desiree Harris responded with her first career field goal on a nice layup in traffic. Swan followed with a jumper after a stop and Roberson completed the comeback with a pair of free throws that tied the game at 45-45 with 3:22 left in regulation. Roberson then gave CU its first lead of the game on a contested layup with 1:52 remaining.
“We were more aggressive and played together,” Lappe said. “We flipped a switch at halftime and it carried us from there on out.”
Jones kept Arizona going at the line. She hit four free throws sandwiched between a Swan missed shot that gave the Wildcats the lead back at 49-47 at the 1:07 mark. Arizona had a chance to increase its lead but turned the ball over on two straight possessions opening the door for the Buffaloes.
Following an Arizona shot clock violation, the Buffs had the ball with 15 seconds remaining. After a CU timeout with 6 seconds left, Roberson had the ball at the top of the key and found Swan posted up on the left block. Swan hesitated for a second, but turned around and banked in the equalizer off the top of the class from about eight feet out with :00.9 on the clock.
“I saw Arielle was blocked off (up top) and could hear someone yell for me to post up,” Swan said. “When she threw it in I thought about passing it, but the team told me to shoot it. My confidence (to take the shot) came from that.”
In overtime Roberson opened the scoring with a drive through the lane, but Jones answered at the other end. Wilson then hit Colorado’s first 3-pointer of the game for a 54-51 advantage. On the following possession, Wilson picked off a Crutchfield pass and took it the distance for a 56-51 CU lead.
The Buffaloes then held off Arizona at the free throw line. Lexy Kresl hit one and Jen Reese made two – her only points of the game – to give CU a six-point lead. Kama Griffitts pulled Arizona back to within 59-56 on the Wildcats’ first 3-pointer since the first half with 8 seconds left in overtime. Wilson then iced the game for the Buffaloes with a pair of free throws.
Swan finished with 18 points, seven rebounds and a career-high six steals. Roberson recorded her fifth double-double of the season with 13 points and 10 rebounds. Wilson added eight rebounds as the Buffaloes enjoyed a sizeable edge on the boards, 45-32.
Jones led Arizona with 13 points. Crutchfield and Griffitts both had 10.
Colorado returns to action on Friday, Feb. 28, by hosting UCLA at 6 p.m. at the Coors Events Center.
Colorado Buffaloes Women’s Basketball
By: B.G. Brooks, Contributing Editor
BOULDER – Another chance at a close-game breakthrough eluded the Colorado women’s basketball team Sunday afternoon. Following what has become a painfully familiar script, CU faltered in the final 5 minutes and lost 80-77 to Washington State at the Coors Events Center.
“Well, it seems a little bit like déjà vu,” said Buffaloes coach Linda Lappe, whose team lost its fourth Pac-12 Conference game this season by three or fewer points.
Lappe credited the Buffs for competing throughout and staying close enough to win but again lamented their inability to “make key stops, free throws, passes and shots down the stretch that would have helped us have the outcome we wanted.”
After trailing by as many as nine points midway through the second half, CU (14-11, 4-10) rallied to tie the score at 71-71. But the Buffs clanked four of their next five free throws, not hitting one until Ashley Wilson converted a pair with 2:52 to play, then sank one of two to put CU up 75-73 with 2:17 remaining.
From there until the final buzzer, the Buffs got only a field goal by Jen Reese in the last 2 seconds that made it a two-point (79-77) game. After one of two foul shots by WSU’s Shalie Dheensaw with 1.1 seconds left put WSU (14-12, 8-6) up 80-77, Reese threw a three-quarter court length pass to Jamie Swan, who caught the ball then passed to Wilson instead of shooting.
Time expired before Wilson could attempt a shot.
Lappe said Reese’s long pass went a step or two too deep, forcing Swan inside the 3-point circle to catch it – thus Swan’s decision to kick it back to Wilson. Reese said the play was designed for Swan to catch-and-shoot, but added, “If there was more time, Ashley could have shot the ball. The pass was there; she had it.”
Swan, again coming off the bench, and Reese led the Buffs with 19 points each, while Ashley Wilson added 12. Arielle Roberson was a point away from a double-double in points and rebounds – nine in each category. Brittany Wilson left the game with 12:19 to play and did not return after suffering a possible concussion.
The Buffs had problems with Washington’s backcourt of Kelsey Plum (25 points) and Jazmine Davis (24) in an 87-80 loss on Thursday night. This was part of Lappe’s déjà vu: On Sunday, CU surrendered 42 combined points to WSU guards Tia Presley (32) and Lia Galdeira (10).
Presley got 22 of her total in the first half, then picked up eight more points in the first 4:55 of the second half. She didn’t get her 32nd point until hitting a layup with 1:27 to play, putting the Cougars up 77-75.
That nearly 14-minute span of keeping Presley in check, said Ashley Wilson, came from “focusing on keeping the ball out of her hands” in the second half. “We had a couple of different players on her (and) when she was driving, just have our bigger post players waiting for her at the basket. It turned out to work in our favor.”
Lappe also thought a different lineup might work in the Buffs’ favor; she used a bigger five of Swan, Reese, Roberson and Rachel Hargis, with Ashley Wilson at guard, in the first half and again to close the game.
But it didn’t matter in CU making enough late plays to win. “There’s no magic formula,” Lappe said. “You just have to do it. You have to figure out that enough’s enough and decide to be tough enough to do that. You have to understand that every team is going to get tougher down the stretch and that’s when the stars are really born. It’s where players step up.”
The Cougars swept the series with the Buffs, winning 70-60 last month in Corvallis, Wash. With their loss to the Huskies on Thursday, the Buffs gave up 80 points or more for the second consecutive game and the fourth time in Pac-12 play. And it marks the first time CU has allowed 80 or more points in back-to-back games since the 2008 WNIT.
The Buffs trailed 44-40 at halftime, surrendering a 25-22 lead taken on a 3-pointer by Roberson with 8:37 left before the break. But CU didn’t get another field goal for nearly 4 minutes, and during that time WSU was building its largest lead of the half – 34-25 – with Presley scoring eight of her 22 first-half points in that stretch.
“She played too many minutes tonight (36), but you really can’t take her out,” said WSU coach June Daugherty. “She’s such a fierce competitor.”
A defensive upgrade had to be among CU’s second-half goals, but that message – if delivered – apparently took a while to register. The Cougars outscored the Buffs 7-2 to open the half, with Presley scoring consecutive baskets to kick off that run. WSU again stretched its lead to nine – 51-42 – on a traditional three-point play by Shane Romberg (14 points, 12 rebounds).
By the 10-minute mark the Buffs still trailed by seven – 64-57 – but they were about to make their move. With Reese getting four points in a 6-0 run and freshman Zoe Beard-Fails scoring on a put-back, CU pulled within 64-63 with 9:07 remaining.
The Buffs finally tied the Cougars at 71-71 when Swan hit both ends of a one-and-one with 4:23 left. On the previous possession, With 5:51 to play, Swan scored what would be CU’s next-to-last field goal – the last being Reese’s jumper with 2 seconds left.
After Ashley Wilson hit one of two free throws to give CU its 75-73 lead with 2:17 left, WSU got four free throws from Galdeira, Presley’s layup and one of two foul shots from Dheensaw to account for its 80 points.
The Cougars were up 80-77 and the Buffs needed a nearly full-court pass and full-blown miracle to force overtime. They got the first but not the second.
“We have to forget about this game, but we have to learn from it as well and move on,” Reese said. “We just have to finish down the stretch . . . hopefully good things will come.”
CU is at Arizona State on Friday night (6:30 p.m.) and at Arizona next Sunday (3 p.m.). The Buffs close out the regular season at home against UCLA on Feb. 28 and USC on March 2.
Husky’s backcourt unstoppable, but Buffs were in the game til the very end
BOULDER – Colorado’s Jamee Swan and Ashley Wilson hit career highpoints on Friday night, but a business-as-usual performance by Washington’s backcourt trumped them and the Buffaloes.
While Swan (25 points) and Wilson (15) were scoring career highs and Wilson was collecting her first career double-double with 10 rebounds, UW guards Kelsey Plum and Jazmine Davis were combining for 49 points to push the Huskies past the Buffs 87-80 at the Coors Events Center.
It wasn’t anything the Buffs hadn’t seen before – and they didn’t have many answers then either. In UW’s 81-71 Pac-12 Conference win last month in Seattle, they combined for 55 points, with Plum getting 35 and Davis 20.
On Friday night, Plum scored 25, Davis 24. They entered the game as the nation’s No. 2 top scoring backcourt, averaging 38.9 points.
“Washington’s two guards were outstanding . . . they torched us,” said CU coach Linda Lappe. “They pretty much did whatever they wanted to do . . . Davis carried them in first half (with 14 points), Plum came alive in the second (with 18). They were tough for us to guard.”
Still, even with Plum-Davis running mostly unchecked, the Buffs (14-10, 4-9) stayed in contention, cutting a 10-point Huskies lead to three twice in the final 1:16 but failing take the rally any further.
After tying the score at 60-60 on a Swan put-back with 8:57 remaining, a 10-0 run pushed UW ahead by 10 (70-60). CU first closed to within three (81-78) on Jen Reese’s first four points of the night, then got to within three again (83-80) on a basket by Arielle Roberson, who finished with 14 points and nine rebounds.
But three points back was as close as the Buffs would get, and Wilson said the game was lost by CU’s inability to “get those crucial stops, whether it was keeping them from scoring or getting a defensive rebound . . . It all comes down to the same thing: we make a push and tie the game and then we have a mental lapse where we don’t get that stop or defensive rebound. It’s been like that all conference season long.”
Lappe said scoring that many points – CU was averaging 70.2 – should have rewarded her team with a win: “Anytime we score 80, that has to be a game where we find a way to win. But it just didn’t go the right way tonight . . . you can’t give up 87 points; there are very few games that we will win that way. We just didn’t do what it took on the defensive side.”
Swann, whose previous career high was 20 against Stanford, said the Buffs lost focus late: “I think it comes down to who wants it more and it just happens that they want it a little more than us and we lose focus.”
UW coach Mike Neighbors didn’t seem surprised by Swan’s productivity. “She was on the scouting report because we recruited the heck out of that kid,” he said. “We wanted her very badly . . . she got it really going and we didn’t have a lot to answer – 25 points in 18 minutes . . . I’m just glad she had five fouls (No. 5 came with 1:30 left) or otherwise she could have had 50 (points).”
UW (14-10, 7-6) outscored CU 34-26 in the paint, outrebounded the Buffs 45-38 and converted 13 CU turnovers into 18 points. CU’s bench outscored UW’s 36-19 – mainly on Swan’s contribution before she fouled out with 1:30 to play. The Buffs hurt themselves at the free throw line, converting only 21 of 33 attempts. The Huskies shot 46.7 percent from the field (28-for-60), the Buffs 40.9 percent (27-for-66).
CU jumped to a 9-2 lead but UW recovered quickly with an 11-2 run and took its first lead on a Plum 3-pointer with 15:01 left before intermission. Davis followed with trey on the Huskies’ next possession, giving them their largest advantage (16-11) of the first half.
The first half’s last 13 minutes produced six ties and 11 lead changes before Ashley Wilson hit one of two free throws with 22.1 seconds left to put CU up 40-39 at the break.
The Huskies took a 49-43 to open the second half, getting back-to-back treys by Davis and Talia Walton, the latter hitting her triple with 16:38 left in the game. The Buffs fought back, closing to 51-50 on a 3-pointer by Lexy Kresl with just over 13 minutes remaining.
But the Huskies answered with a 6-0 run on consecutive conventional three-point plays by Plum and Chantel Osahor to open a seven-point advantage – 57-50 – with 12:19 to play.
If CU was to make a move, it would have to be soon. Ashley Wilson and Swan made two free throws each to pull the Buffs to within 57-54. After Swan scored consecutive baskets to tie the score at 60-60, the Huskies got 3-pointers from Osahor – only her second in five games – and Mercedes Wetmore and two free throws each from Katie Collier and Plum to pull ahead 70-60.
It was UW’s largest lead of the night, but a runner by Plum in the lane put CU behind 11 (75-64) just over a minute later. The Buffs pulled to within five (76-71) on a trey by Ashley Wilson, then seven (81-74) on a triple by Kresl with 1:16 left.
Reese got her first points of the night on a jumper to bring CU to 81-76 with 1:06 remaining, then hit a pair of free throws 3 seconds later to cut the deficit to 81-78. A layup by Roberson made it 83-80 but the Huskies closed it out with four free throws by Aminah Williams in the final 22 seconds.
“It took some warriors to win and I was so proud of our kids up and down the bench,” Neighbors said. “We get 19 (points) and 12 (rebounds) off of our bench tonight. There’s been games where we’ve gotten zero and zero.”
CU returns to the CEC on Sunday afternoon (1:30 p.m., Pac-12 Networks) to play Washington State.
Release: February 10, 2014
By: Troy Andre, Assistant SID
EUGENE, Ore. – Playing in her native Oregon, Jen Reese felt right at home scoring 18 points and grabbing 13 rebounds as Colorado clipped Oregon 81-75 Monday at Matthew Knight Arena.
Playing aggressive defense and dominating on the boards, Colorado held Oregon, the nation’s top scoring offense, 20 points below its season average. Colorado (14-9, 4-8 Pac-12) grabbed a season-high 54 rebounds, including 24 on the offensive end.
Colorado’s 24 offensive boards translated into 25 second-chance points.
“We were more aggressive in rebounding and that really helped,” said Reese who corralled her third career double-double. “We gave the first punch; we knew we had to box out. They are a great offensive rebounding team and we knew coming in that was going to be a huge factor.
Rachel Hargis also came up with some key minutes down the stretch. She scored seven of her eight points in the second half, getting two key baskets in the final minutes. Hargis was credited with only two rebounds, but her presence in the paint, which included a season-high three blocked shots, caused issues for the Ducks.
“Today, we really focused on our defense and it hasn’t been what it has been in the past,” Hargis said. “If we keep doing that, we’ll get back to where we need to be and we’ll go into the conference tournament with some confidence.”
Oregon forward Jillian Alleyne who entered the game averaging 21.4 points and a nation-best 15.6 rebounds per game, was held to single figures in rebounding for just the third time this season, finishing with nine to go along with 15 points.
Freshman guard Chrishae Rowe scored a game-high 23 points for Oregon on 7-of-19 shooting. Colorado held the Ducks to 33 percent from the field while the Buffaloes shot 44 percent.
Colorado led by as many as 15 points in the first half, but the Ducks stormed back using a 14-4 run to take its first lead at 46-45 with 15:34 left.
The Buffaloes regrouped with a stretch that epitomized the Buffaloes effort on the boards. CU capitalized on three consecutive offensive rebounds to help push its lead back up to eight.
Up by one after a couple of Swan free throws, Swan missed a layup but Reese was in perfect position for the tip in. Fouled on the play, Reese missed the free throw, but Swan got the offensive board and was fouled herself.
Swan made the first but missed the second. This time Lexy Kresl grabbed the offensive board. She was able to split the Oregon defense for a layup as Colorado increased its lead to 52-46. Following a Megan Carpenter missed jumper, Swan grabbed the long rebound and went coast-to-coast, capping of a 9-0 run and a 54-46 Buffaloes advantage.
“I think there’s always flows of the game,” head coach Linda Lappe said. “We knew coming out of halftime, a nine point lead against Oregon is nothing. We wanted to come out aggressive, but we didn’t do that as well. But I like how we composed ourselves. When we have the mentality defensively, we’re going to make plays on offense. Even offensively, we had to grind it out at times tonight, and we did that.”
Oregon stayed close with the long ball. The Ducks hit six of their 10 3-pointers in the second half. When it looked like Colorado could pull away after Reese gave the Buffs a 61-51 lead, Lexi Petersen drilled a 3-pointer that began an 18-5 run for the Ducks. Petersen hit a second long ball during that stretch and Ariel Thomas capped off the run with a 3-pointer to give Oregon a 69-66 lead with 4:41 remaining.
But Colorado never let the Ducks extend the lead beyond that. Hargis, who scored seven of her eight points during the final stretch, answered Thomas with a bucket.
Colorado then clamped down defensively, allowing Oregon (13-10, 4-8) only four points in the final four minutes.
Reese scored the go-ahead bucket on a short baseline jumper with 45 seconds left to break a 75-75 tie. After getting a stop on the defensive end, Brittany Wilson gave Colorado that all-important four-point lead on a pair of free throws with 15 seconds left.
After stopping the Ducks for the second straight possession, Ashley Wilson accounted for the final points with a pair of free throws to close the game. In all the Ducks came up empty on eight of their final 10 possessions.
“Our overall mentality was different from the start of the game,” Lappe said. “When you’re willing to do whatever it takes and rebound the basketball, you can turn it around.”
Colorado returns to action on Friday, Feb. 14, by hosting Washington at the Coors Events Center at 6:30 p.m.