Offensive surge in second half not enough
The Colorado women’s basketball will not be feeling as much of a last season hangover as they could have.
After a relatively disappointing end to a season that started out strong, the Buffs got as much out of their automatic WNIT bid as any Colorado fan could ask. The Buffs made it to the WNIT Final Four before falling to Marquette on Wednesday night at the Coors Events Center.
Senior Jackie McFarland led the team with 17 points and nine rebounds in her final game as a Buff.
“I can’t imagine a better way going out, other than cutting down the nets,” McFarland said.
CU came out slow, as it has in its previous two WNIT games, and fell behind 25-7. Only nine minutes into the WNIT semifinal, the Buffs were 3-13 on field goals, and they had missed all four 3-point attempts.
Marquette countered hitting 62.5 percent of their field goals.
Head coach Kathy McConnell-Miller said the large deficit was not just because they were giving up a lot of points.
“It was a struggle in the first half,” McConnell-Miller said. “Offensively we couldn’t get anything going.”
In Colorado’s past two games, the team has committed a total of 17 turnovers. In the first half alone on Wednesday, the Buffs turned the ball over 14 times in their first 29 possessions. Marquette took advantage with 17 points off those turnovers.
Marquette also dominated the boards, and they out-rebounded the Buffs 26-13 in the first half. They scored 11 points off their 11 offensive rebounds.
The Golden Eagles were also able to put pressure on CU’s scoring leader. McConnell-Miller said the attention that McFarland drew was really disruptive to CU’s offense.
The senior forward had eight points and five rebounds in the first half. She echoed McConnell-Miller’s sentiments saying the physical style of Marquette’s play was what kept the team from getting into any sort of rhythm.
“It was a lot different from the previous games that we have played,” McFarland said.
While the Buffs made a few solid runs in the second half, especially toward the end, it was not enough to bring a victory.
Marquette’s three starting guards put up together 57 of their team’s 86 points. Junior Krystal Ellis, 27, freshman Angel Robinson, 17, and sophomore Janelle Harris, 13, scored a combined 20 points over their season average.
Colorado finished the game with four players in double figures. Along with McFarland’s 17, Smith had 12, freshman Brittany Spears had 16 and sophomore Whitney Houston had 10. Junior Kara Richards had nine points in her 18 minutes, tripling her average score.
Even with an 86-72 home loss, McConnell-Miller said the postseason experience has been extremely valuable to the younger players.
“We definitely have become stronger as a group because of this,” McConnell-Miller said.
The Buffs will lose two seniors, McFarland and guard Susie Powers. Although McFarland will take her 18 points and 8 rebounds with her, the next six point leaders on the team will be returning next season.
Freshman Spears, who made the Big 12 Conference All-Rookie team and earned Rookie of the Week honors four times this season, is the team’s second leading scorer, averaging nearly 14 points per game, and she has averaged just under 17 in the postseason.
Powers said this team is something to look at, as the first Colorado women’s basketball team to play in a game in April in school history, and she does not see success leaving Colorado come next year.
“The future looks optimistic,” Powers said.
Contact Campus Press Assistant Sports Editor Margot Schneider at email@example.com.