Contact CU Independent writer Jake Mauff at Jacob.Mauff@colorado.edu. You can follow him on twitter, @Jama4737CMCI
The University of Colorado women’s basketball team rallied, but couldn’t pull out a win against the unbeaten Missouri Tigers Saturday afternoon, losing 79-75. Colorado now falls to 4-5 on the season.
It was an up and down day for the Buffs, with the game starting on a 10-2 Mizzou run. As the quarter went on, the Buffs cut into the lead, trailing by five.
Colorado’s starting lineup changed from its last game against Northern Arizona. The team reverted to its more traditional starting five. Freshmen guard Kennedy Leonard, junior forward Lauren Huggins, and senior forward Jamee Swan all returned from their spots on the bench to start.
The Buffs continued to battle against the Tigers. Missouri’s shooting declined in the second quarter, after an impressive first quarter, while CU’s also improved. In the second, Colorado made 10 of their 13 shots. After an impressive run to end the half, the Buffs went up 47-40 at the intermission.
“When we went on the run in the first half, it was because we were moving the ball,” head coach Linda Lappe said. “The ball didn’t stop with one person, it got shifted around.”
It was a balanced team effort. Swan was the team’s leading scorer, with 17. Leonard was next with 14. The third highest scorer, freshmen guard Alexis Robinson, had 11. Mizzou relied on Cierra Porter and Sierra Michaels, who both scored 21. No other player reached double digits.
What helped the Buffs with this run was their three-point shooting. The team was seven for nine in the first twenty minutes.
Mizzou came storming back in the second half. After the team caught fire before the break, the Tigers made sure to disrupt the flow of Colorado’s offense. There was a more persistent defense, which led to more fouls and free throw attempts.
It was made a physical game by both teams. Colorado was called 21 times for personal fouls and Missouri was called 20. Most notably, Colorado had two free throw attempts the entire second half while Missouri had 18.
A Mizzou series of free throws gave the Tigers their first lead of the second half with 1:52 left to play in the third. For the remainder of the period, the teams went back and forth.
With one second on the clock in the third, an inbounds play to freshman guard Alexis Robinson went for a score and the Buffs led by one point going into the fourth quarter.
In the final period, Huggins fell to the floor. She was slow to get up. After a second she was able to walk off the court by herself with an obvious limp to her step.
Mizzou built a lead as the seconds winded down, going ahead by five with 1:23 left to play.
From here, Colorado traded fouls for possessions. Missouri converted almost all of their attempts in this span. The Buffs were unable to capitalize, as a Tiger five-point lead still stood with 25 seconds left.
The Tigers missed one of two free throws. Colorado came back and took a last second three which missed, seeing the game end 79-75 in favor of Mizzou.
“Any time you lose, it’s disappointing,” Leonard said. “We had that game, I feel like we had that game.”
CU’s success with the three pointer didn’t continue into the second half, mostly because hardly any three point attempts were taken at all. The Buffs took three the entire second half, as compared to nine in the first. They made zero in the second, as compared to seven in the first.
Colorado shot better from the field, but was not able to take advantage of the additional point opportunities Mizzou took in free throws and three pointers.
Looking to rebound from the tough loss, Colorado will look to Presbyterian on Dec. 19 at Coors Events Center. Tipoff is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. MST.