Buffs, Rams Hook Up In Women's Hoops Wednesday
THE GAME: The University of Colorado (2-2) will face its first road test of the season as the Buffaloes travel to play Colorado State University (2-1) on Wednesday, Nov. 30, at 7 p.m. in Moby Arena in Fort Collins, Colo.
BROADCAST: The Colorado-Colorado State game will be televised live on Fox Sports Net Rocky Mountain with Dave Benz at the call and former CU head coach Ceal Barry giving the color commentary. The game will also be broadcast live on KKZN AM 760, Boulder's Progressive Talk station. Tim Smile will handle play by play duties and is joined by USA Basketball's Carol Callan with the color commentary.
THE BUFFALOES: Colorado hits the road for the first time in 2005-06 after splitting its first four games at home. After defeating Cal State-Fullerton 100-71 in the season opener on Nov. 18, Colorado fell back to Earth with a 66-50 setback to Wyoming on Nov. 21. Colorado then took third in its own Coors Classic tournament. The Buffaloes lost to Northern Iowa 74-65 in overtime in the first round game then rebounded to down Utah State 73-56 in the consolation round.
Sophomore post Jackie McFarland is averaging a double-double over the first four contests, sporting a Big 12 Conference best 24.5 points per game and 10.8 rebounds per contest which is third on the league charts. Junior Jasminia Ilic is 10th in the Big 12 in scoring at 17 points per game. She was held to just one point against Wyoming, but already has outputs of 34 (Cal State-Fullerton) and 24 (Utah State) this season. Colorado's back-court trio of senior Whitney Law and sophomores Lauren Lubin and Yari Escalera have put up some impressive numbers in the four early games. Law, who is listed as probable for Wednesday's game after missing the Utah State game with a sprained ankle, is second among Big 12 players in assists with 8.3 per game. Escalera, one of the top four foul shooters in the Big 12 at 88.9 percent, tied a career-high with 19 points to lead CU against Northern Iowa. Lubin, who started in the place of Law against Utah State, responded with career best numbers of 13 points, 13 rebounds, four assists and two steals. Lubin and Escalera are first and fourth respectively on the Big 12 free-throw percentage charts and combined are hitting 93.3 percent from the charity stripe (28x30). As a team, Colorado is holding its opponents to 36.5 percent from the field (91x249) and out-rebounding its opponents by 5.3 rebounds per game.
CLASSIC IN REVIEW: Colorado placed third in the 19th Annual Coors Classic Tournament Nov. 25-26 at the Coors Events Conference Center. The Buffaloes fell to Northern Iowa, 74-65, in overtime marking the first time in Coors Classic history that CU lost a first round match up. Colorado rebounded to take the consolation game from Utah State, 73-56. Northern Iowa would go on to take the tournament title by defeating Illinois 71-47.
Sophomore Jackie McFarland was named to the All-Tournament team as she averaged 18 points, 8.5 rebounds, four steals and two blocks. Northern Iowa senior center Cassie Hager, who had 21 points, 10 rebounds and six blocks against CU, was the tournament MVP.
Junior Jasmina Ilic had a game-high 24 points and McFarland had 21 as Colorado defeated Utah State 71-56 in the consolation game.
Sophomore shooting guard Lauren Lubin had career-highs with 13 points and 13 rebounds in her first collegiate start. Lubin made the start in place of senior Whitney Law who sprained her left ankle in Friday's overtime loss to Northern Iowa.
Colorado started the game on an 18-4 run, sparked by seven points each from Ilic and McFarland and four from Lubin. Ilic, who was just 4-of-26 from the field over the previous two games, hit four of her first eight shots. She finished with a game-high 10 field goals ? four from beyond the 3-point arc.
Utah State (0-3) made just two of its first 17 shots of the game, missing all five from 3-point range, and ended up at 26.7 percent for the half (8-of-30). The Aggies out-rebounded the Buffaloes 22-16 in the first half, led by forward Jenny Gross with seven. The Buffaloes shot 48.3 percent in the first 20 minutes building a 39-24 lead.
The Aggies shot a little better in the second half, hitting 12-of-3 (38.7 percent), but Colorado regained the advantage on the boards in the second half out-rebounding Utah State 25-15. Lubin had 10 of her 13 rebounds in the second period as the Buffs led by as many as 24 late in the contest.
McFarland scored in double digits for the fourth-straight game, the best streak of her career. She hit 7-of-11 from the field (.636), a perfect 6-of-6 from the free-throw line, and added five rebounds, four assists and four steals.
Sophomore point guard Yari Escalera played all but four minutes in Saturday's contest, pitching in nine points, six rebounds and four assists. Brittany Hagen led the way for Utah State with 18 points.
Northern Iowa's Cassie Hager scored seven of her game-high 21 points in overtime to lead the Panthers to a 74-65 win over Colorado in the first round.
Escalera hit a pair of free throws with just five seconds remaining in regulation to tie the score at 58-58 and send it to the extra session. Escalera was CU's high scorer, finishing with a career-high tying 19 points.
The Buffaloes took a 60-58 lead one minute into overtime on a Caley Dow layup, and led 61-60 with three minutes remaining when the Panthers' 6-foot-7 center took over. Hager scored six straight points hitting two layups and a pair off free throws. To make matters even worse, the foul that sent Hager to the free-throw line during that stretch, was the fifth for sophomore forward McFarland who recorded her third-straight double-double of the season with 15 points and 12 rebounds.
Hager added 10 rebounds and six blocked shots to her totals. Four UNI players scored in double digits with sophomore Kelly Lund joining Hager in the double-double category with 11 points and 10 rebounds.
McFARLAND 20-10: Jackie McFarland is the first player in CU women's basketball history to average at least 20 points and 10 rebounds over the first four games of a season. McFarland currently leads the Big 12 Conference in scoring at 24.5 points per game and is third on the league charts in rebounding at 10.8 per contest. The closest any other Buffs' player has come to this milestone was Tera Bjorklund who averaged 21.8 points and 8.5 boards over the first four games of 2001-02.
McFarland's 24.5 points per game average is second all-time in school history trailing only Jamillah Lang who averaged 25.8 points over the first four games of the 1993-94 campaign.
POINTS AVERAGE FIRST FOUR GAMES
ABOUT THE RAMS: Colorado State is 2-1 overall, most recently defeating UC-Irvine in the consolation round of the Rams' Coors Rocky Mountain Invitational. CSU will play its fourth-straight home game when the Buffs come to Fort Collins. The Rams defeated NCAA Division II foe Concordia-St. Paul, 76-51, in the opener and fell to South Dakota State 82-75 in the first round of the Rocky Mountain Invitational. Senior forward Melissa Dennett leads the Rams averaging 16.3 points and 11.3 rebounds over the first three contests. CSU has four of its five starters averaging double digits in points. Senior guard Vanessa Espinoza is at 13.3 points per game, center Lindsay Thomas is at 11 points per game and guard Sara Hunter is at 10.7 points per contest.
SERIES RECORDS: This will be the 37th meeting between Colorado and Colorado State with the Buffaloes holding a commanding 27-9 lead. Colorado has won the last three contests, including an 83-77 win in Boulder on Dec. 8, 2004. CSU's last win came in Fort Collins, an 81-69 decision on Nov. 28, 2001. CU is 9-7 all-time in Fort Collins, winning two of the last three decisions.
Kathy McConnell-Miller is 1-1 against Colorado State in her head coaching career, both games coming while at Tulsa.
COACHING RIVALRY: Kathy McConnell-Miller and Colorado State head coach Jen Warden are in their first season with their respective teams, but they are very familiar with each other. Warden was head coach at Boise State University for three years while McConnell-Miller was at Western Athletic Conference rival Tulsa. McConnell-Miller and Warden's teams met six times with McConnell-Miller holding a 4-2 series edge. Warden is a Colorado native who played at CU, then Jen Tubergen, from 1988-90 and was a former assistant coach with the Buffaloes under Ceal Barry.
MILESTONES GALORE IN SEASON OPENER: Several milestones were reached in Colorado's season-opening 100-71 win over Cal State-Fullerton.
Junior Jasmina Ilic and sophomore Jackie McFarland each had 34 points, both career highs, marking the first time in team history two players hit the 30-point mark in the same game. McFarland recorded her sixth career double-double, grabbing a personal-high 15 rebounds. Ilic also had a personal-best 12 field goals and tied a career mark with 10 rebounds.
Senior Whitney Law dished out a school record 15 assists, breaking the previous record of 14, which was done twice, last by La Shena Graham vs. Missouri in 1998. She also had nine assists in the first half, breaking a 26-year old school record. Sandy Bean recorded eight assists in a half against Northern Colorado on Feb. 1, 1979.
Colorado recorded its first 100 point game since a 114-52 win over St. Francis (Pa.) on Nov. 28, 1994.
BUFF DEBUTS: Colorado had three players -- two freshmen and a junior -- make their initial appearance in a Buffaloes uniform Nov. 18 against Cal State Fullerton. Freshman forward Caley Dow hit all three of her field goal attempts and finished with seven rebounds, six points and four steals in 15 minutes. Guard Hannah Skildum had four points on 2-of-4 shooting and three rebounds in 13 minutes. Junior forward Courtney Wallace made her official CU entrance in the closing seconds of Friday's contest.
WALLACE ACTIVATED: Junior forward Courtney Wallace has waited more than a year to put on the Buffaloes uniform and now she will get her chance. Wallace, a walk-on transfer from CU-Colorado Springs, was officially added to the active roster on Nov. 17. Wallace practiced with the Buffs for most of last season as she sat out her NCAA mandated redshirted year after transferring from the Springs campus. She has been practicing and conditioning with the Buffaloes since the start of the school year. Wallace played two years for the Mountain Lions and was a two-year letterwinner for Air Academy High School in Colorado Springs, graduating in 2004.
ON THE MEND: Sophomore center Kara Richards is expected to miss 4-to-6 weeks after suffering a fracture in her left foot during practice on Nov. 15. Richards underwent surgery on Nov. 16 to repair the fracture to the fifth meta-tarsal, also known as a "Jones fracture." Richards started in 26 of 28 games for the Buffaloes as a true freshman last winter, averaging nine points, 5.3 rebounds and one block per game. She earned a spot on the Waco Tribune-Herald's All-Big 12 Conference Freshman team in 2004-05 and was named the Buffs' Rookie of the Year. A native of Graham, Texas, Richards averaged 12 points and 6.5 rebounds in CU's two exhibition games earlier this month.
Senior center Tami Garnett, missed the exhibition schedule, recuperating from preseason surgery on the meniscus in her left knee. Garnett has returned to practice and has played in two of four games including a season-high seven minutes against Utah State.
McCONNELL-MILLER 100 IN DEBUT: Kathy McConnell-Miller led Colorado to the century mark in her first game as head coach, by far the best total of any current Big 12 Conference coach in their debut at their school. Bill Fennelly of Iowa State was the closest as he led the Cyclones to an 82-55 win over Idaho State in his debut in 1995. Ironically, McConnell-Miller is not the first Colorado women's coach to debut with a 100-point performance. Sox Walseth led the Buffs to a 107-73 win over Colorado Women's College in his first game as women's head coach on Nov. 18, 1980. Here is the list of current Big 12 coaches and their first games:
BUFFS IN OPENERS: With its win over Cal State-Fullerton, Colorado moved to 27-5 (.844) all-time in season openers and a whopping 31-1 (.969) all-time in home openers. CU has won six straight season debuts and 19 of its last 20 with the lone loss in that span coming at Denver on Nov. 19, 1999.
NOVEMBER SUCCESS: Fast starts in November are common for Colorado. The Buffaloes are 90-24 (.789) all-time in the month of November and a stunning 75-11 (.872) at the Coors Events Conference Center. CU is 17-4 at home in November since 2000.
BUFFS IN PRESEASON: Colorado has had five straight seasons with a record of .500 or better during the non conference schedule. The Buffs have only finished below .500 twice during the nonconference schedule in the Big 8/Big 12 era going 5-6 in 1999-2000 and 4-9 in 1984-85. A five-game winning streak last December allowed CU to keep the string alive at with a 7-6 preseason mark.
CLIMBING THE ?3' LADDER: Juniors Jasmina Ilic and Anna Nedovic entered CU's top 20 for all-time 3-point field goals last year and both have legitimate shots to enter the top 10 sometime this season. Ilic is currently 13th on the all-time list with 47 and just two shy of reaching Erin Carson (1984-88) for 12th. Nedovic is right behind in 17th place with 37.
BUFFS PICKED 12TH: Colorado was picked to finish 12th in the annual Big 12 Conference Coaches Preseason Poll. CU received 14 points meaning no less than eight Big 12 coaches picked the Buffaloes to finish in the 12th spot (coaches do not vote for their own teams). It is the first time the Buffaloes have been picked lower than eighth since the coaches poll began in 1997. Defending NCAA champion Baylor was picked to win its second consecutive Big 12 title, landing six first place votes and 113 total points to edge out second place Texas with two first place nods and 110 points. Texas Tech was a close third with the four remaining first place votes and 108 points. Oklahoma was fourth (91), followed by Nebraska (70), Kansas (66), Texas A&M (59), Kansas State (56), Iowa State (45), Missouri (37), Oklahoma State (23) and Colorado.
TOUGH SCHEDULE: Colorado once again faces a tough schedule, featuring at least 14 games against 2005 NCAA or WNIT tournament teams. Defending national champion Baylor, who the Buffs will face in Waco on Feb. 22, is the highest ranked team on the schedule, checking in at No. 5 in the most recent Associated Press and USA Today/ESPN coaches polls. The Big 12 Conference Southern Division is prominent in the preseason polls. Texas is ranked No. 16 by the AP and No. 18 by the coaches. Oklahoma is 19th by the coaches and 20th by the AP. Texas Tech, off to a 1-4 start, is 24th in both polls. As far as the north, Kansas State is receiving a few votes in the coaches poll while Kansas has a single vote in the AP poll. Oregon is the Buffs' only non conference opponents currently receiving votes, with a hand full in both polls.
HOME AT THE CECC: Colorado is traditionally tough at home with a 291-80 all-time record at the Coors Events/Conference Center (.784). The Buffaloes have won 10 or more games in a season at the CECC in 18 of the previous 27 years including five undefeated seasons (1980-83, 1992-94). Colorado had a rare sub-.500 season last winter at 5-9, marking just the second time the Buffs have been below .500 for a season in the 27-year history of the CECC.
BUFFS ON TV: Colorado's schedule features seven games that will be televised either regionally or nationally by Fox Sports Net. All but one of the FSN games is in Boulder, with the lone exception at Colorado State on Nov. 30. Buffs fans will see a familiar face on their TV sets during those games as longtime CU coach Ceal Barry is scheduled to provide the color commentary on a majority of the broadcasts.
UP NEXT: Colorado head out of the Rocky Mountain state for the first time in 2005-06 as the Buffaloes face Creighton University on Saturday, Dec. 3, at 2:05 p.m. MST in Omaha.