Although the rock chalk from the men’s game has cleared, the Colorado women’s basketball team was left in the dust against the University of Kansas at the Coors Events Center.
The 79-72 loss on Wednesday night was their seventh in a row, and pushes their record to 12-12 overall, 2-9 in Big 12 play.
Despite the fact the team got off to a faster start and lost by a much smaller margin than in previous games, there were too many other factors the Buffs couldn’t overcome.
One of those big factors was KU’s leading scorer Carolyn Davis. The freshman forward was 10-for-10 from the field and eight-for-eight from the free throw line.
“She not taking shots she can’t hit,” said head coach Kathy McConnell-Miller. “She doesn’t take a lot of challenged shots. She’s got angles when she scores. She’s efficient from the free throw line.”
Senior center Courtney Dunn, who put up ten points of her own, noted that Davis’s open looks were a driving force in the loss.
“She was just being really physical with me,” Dunn said. “I just couldn’t get around her.”
Coach McConnell-Miller believed that if her team had more opportunities for shots, the final outcome could have been different. The Buffs did increase their scoring percentage from 32.3 percent in the first half to 57.7 percent in the second, but a scoreless bench left the team empty handed.
Senior guard Bianca Smith and the other starters all put up double digits, but there seemed to be a lack of balance between those five and the other five that played in the game.
“I was hoping we would get something out of the bench,” McConnell-Miller said. “The last three games we had struggled to get off to a great start, and when we needed scoring, we went to our bench, which was Bianca [Smith]. Tonight we got off to a good start, but we just didn’t get any production off of our bench.”
That good start included an early lead by the Buffs, something they have not seen much of in Big 12 play. The double team of Dunn and junior forward Brittany Spears set CU up to 9-6 with 15:56 remaining.
The Buffaloes increased their lead to eleven with help from back-to-back 3-pointers by Smith, but the Jayhawks weren’t about to sit back and enjoy the ride.
KU went on a 17-2 run, allowing CU to score only once in a ten minute period. They widened the lead even farther with consecutive treys of their own.
With the first half winding down, Spears found an open 3-point shot in the corner, with the assist from sophomore guard Alyssa Fressle, and the ball whirled into the basket as the buzzer sounded. The buzzer beater put the score at 33-26 at the half.
The second half didn’t start off as smoothly as the first. Although CU came out with more aggression, the referees also came out with more whistle-blowing.
The half included 35 fouls (compared to the 14 in the first half), and Smith, who got fouled four times in the last minute, and Fressle both fouled out of the game.
Colorado out-rebounded Kansas 35 to 33, but they still managed to get behind by as much as 12 points with 8:30 left in the game.
However, CU did manage to battle back to continuously narrow the margin in the final six minutes.
Dunn got the defensive rebound to set up Spears for a 3-point jumper from the right. This cut the KU lead to 60-57.
Once more, with only 18 seconds left, the Buffs would narrow the margin to three points, with freshman guard Chucky Jeffery driving into the paint to get the layup, keeping the score tight at 73-70. But Smith’s final two fouls would help lift the Jayhawks to a 79-72 victory.
Even with this ending, which McConnell-Miller described as a tough loss, Smith hopes her team will stay focused and high-spirited.
“We just have to stay positive I think. We have to stay confident and know that we’ve got plenty of opportunity not only to win but to make the post-season,” Smith said.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Marlee Horn at Marlee.Horn@colorado.edu.