Compared to last season, it didn’t take long for the Colorado Buffaloes women’s basketball team to get their first win in Big 12 Conference play.
After jumping out to a 17-point halftime lead against the Missouri Tigers, the Buffs held off a late Tigers’ rush for a 64-48 victory in the team’s first conference game of the season in front of 2,406 Saturday at the Coors Events Center.
“It is great to open up at home and it’s great to come out with the win,” CU head coach Kathy McConnell-Miller said. “I’m very proud, and very happy with the win. Some points of emphasis are getting to the free-throw line and not turning the ball over. Overall, a good performance and I’m happy we’re sitting here at 1-0 in the Big 12.”
Last season, it took the Buffs five games to get their first Big 12 win, which came against these same Tigers (10-4, 0-1) on Jan. 24, 2009 in Columbia, Mo. The victory was CU’s 11th, which matched last season’s win total.
CU (11-3, 1-0) had four players in double figures, led by junior forward Brittany Spears’ 16 points. Spears also grabbed nine rebounds and became the 13th player in team history to surpass 600 career rebounds.
Senior center Courtney Dunn and freshman guard Chucky Jeffery chipped in with 12 points each while sophomore guard Alyssa Fressle added 11.
Missouri’s Shakara Jones scored a team-high 15 and Christine Flores recorded a double-double with 10 points and a game-high 10 rebounds.
Colorado jumped out to an early 10-4 lead six minutes into the first half and kept the pressure on the Tigers, taking a 32-15 lead into the locker room.
Spears said the team’s zone defense helped fuel their first-half play.
“Our defense went into the zone, so we got our hands on their passes and got deflections, which led to steals,” Spears said.
CU finished with 11 steals, marking the ninth time this season the Buffs have had double-digits thefts. The nine games are the most since the 2003-04 season when Colorado had 12 games of double-digit steals.
Both teams had seen better days shooting from the field in the first half as the Tigers went 6-of-32 while the Buffs did slightly better, going 11-of-31. In the second half, both teams improved their shooting as Mizzou shot 55.6 percent while Colorado shot 56.5 percent.
However, one area the Buffs couldn’t solve was shooting from beyond the arc. In 11 attempts, Colorado made its only shot from three-point range with 34 seconds remaining in regulation.
The Tigers gave the Buffs a scare as they went on a 17-5 run to claw their way to within three at 47-44 with 5:54 left to play.
After a CU timeout, McConnell-Miller got the response she wanted beginning with Fressle finding an open Bianca Smith under the basket for an easy layup. Moments later, Spears found Jeffery in a similar play for a layup to extend CU’s lead to seven.
“We were not taking the shots within our offense, we got a little sluggish, gave up some inside play, and we put them on the free-throw line,” McConnell-Miller said. “But the good news is that we responded, and we responded with energy, with scores and with passion.”
Jeffery said energy and defense helped the Buffs regain the momentum.
“When we came out of the timeout, we came out with more energy then what we had and our defense is really what got us back into it,” Jeffery said. “We went to the zone and we started getting steals, and that gave us our energy.”
The Buffs went on a game-ending 17-4 run to seal the victory.
Colorado will look to extend its Big 12 winning streak to two as they head to Lubbock, Texas on Tuesday to take on the Texas Tech Lady Raiders (12-3, 0-1) at 6 p.m. Texas Tech lost its first game in Big 12 play, falling to Oklahoma 73-58 Saturday.
For a post-game interview with head coach McConnell-Miller, click here.
Contact CU Independent Sports Editor Ron Knabenbauer at Ronald.firstname.lastname@example.org