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Buffs To Play Three At San Juan Shootout

Dec 18, 2005

THE TOURNAMENT: The University of Colorado (3-4) travels to play three games at the 2005 San Juan Shootout, Dec. 19-21, in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The Buffaloes will play all three games at the Mario Morales Coliseum in Guyanabo, P.R., starting with a tip off against Northern Arizona University on Monday, Dec. 19, at 6 p.m. MST (9 p.m. local). CU will also face the University of Puerto Rico-Mayaguez on Tuesday, Dec. 20, at 6 p.m. MST and the University of South Florida on Wednesday, Dec. 21, at 6 p.m. MST.

BROADCAST: All of Colorado's games at the San Juan Shootout will 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. Internet audio streaming of the game will be available through Yahoo! Sports.

THE BUFFALOES: Colorado is 3-4 overall as it snapped a two-game losing streak with an 84-57 home win over the University of the Pacific on Dec. 8. All three of CU's wins have come at the Coors Events Conference Center this winter and this will be the Buffs' third excursion away from the friendly confines. CU has lost both its road games this season, but this will be its first of the this year played on a neutral court.

When Colorado is winning, it is winning big. CU is averaging 85.7 points per game in its three wins and outscoring the opponent by 24.3 points an outing. The Buffs are shooting 46 percent from the field (91x198) in those games and outrebounding the opposition by nearly 10 rebounds per game. In contrast, CU is averaging just 67.5 points per game in its four losses, shooting just 38.3 percent (92x240) while opponents are shooting 43.5 percent (104x239) from the field.

Three of CU's four losses have been tight ones. Colorado's fell to Northern Iowa 74-65 in overtime at the CECC, and in the Buffs' two road losses, CU had a chance to tie or take the lead in the closing seconds in both games.

Sophomore post Jackie McFarland, the nation's second leading scorer (through games of Dec. 12), is averaging a double-double over the first seven contests sporting a Big 12 Conference best 23.7 points per game and 10.3 rebounds per contest which is tied for third on the league charts. Junior Jasmina Ilic is tied for seventh in the Big 12 at 17.3 points per game, and has scored at least 20 points in three of the last four contests. McFarland and Ilic have scored 20 or more points in the same game four times this season and the Buffs are 3-1 in those outings (lone loss at Creighton). After a relatively slow start, junior forward Anna Nedovic is heating up. She is averaging 9.3 points over the last three games while hitting 50 percent from the field (11x22). Colorado's back-court trio of senior Whitney Law and sophomores Lauren Lubin and Yari Escalera have put up some impressive numbers. Law, who missed the Utah State game with a sprained ankle, rebounded in a big way with a career-high 22 points against Colorado State. She is fifth among Big 12 players in assists, and 16th in the nation, with 6.2 per game. Escalera, one of the top 10 foul shooters in the Big 12 at 85.7 percent, tied a career-high with 19 points to lead CU against Northern Iowa. Lubin, who has started the last four games, has responded with two double-doubles and is averaging 9.3 points, 7.5 rebounds and 4.3 assists over her four starts. Colorado has three of the top 15 free-throw shooters in the Big 12 led by Lubin who ranks third at 91 percent (20x22).

Colorado's freshman duo of forward Caley Dow and guard Hannah Skildum are getting some key minutes off the bench for the Buffaloes. Dow is averaging just over 15 minutes a game and has at least four rebounds in five of seven contests. Skildum, who has played the exact amount of minutes as Dow (106), has scored in each of the last three games and has recorded at least one assist and one rebound in each of her first seven outings.

LAST TIME OUT: Sophomore Jackie McFarland had 26 points and junior Jasmina Ilic had 20 as Colorado ran to an 84-57 win over Pacific Dec. 8 at the Coors Events Conference Center.

The game marked the fourth time this season that McFarland and Ilic have each hit the 20-point mark in the same game, with the Buffs winning three of the four (lone loss came Dec. 3 at Creighton). McFarland hit 8-of-13 from the field, and 10-of-15 from the free-throw line marking her second-straight game with 10-plus free throws made. Ilic hit 7-of-20 from the field, including four 3-point field goals, giving her 10 in the past two games.

Even with the usual suspects scoring in the 20's, the rest of the Buffs stepped up for a balanced effort. Nine of 10 Colorado players entered the scoring column and six had at least six points. Senior Whitney Law had 10 points and five assists while junior Anna Nedovic had nine points, three rebounds and three steals.

Colorado hit 50 percent from the field in the first half (17-of-34), en route to a 50-18 halftime lead. The Buffaloes, who benefited from a 24-0 run in the first half, had 15 points from Ilic to lead the effort. Six different Buffs scored at least six points in the first half including eight from McFarland and seven from Yari Escalera off the bench.

Turnovers were also CU's friend for once in the first half. The Buffs entered the game giving up over two more turnovers than its opposition per game, but on Thursday CU was on the positive side. Pacific had 14 first-half turnovers to just five for the Buffs. Colorado had 10 steals in the first half, four of which came from McFarland.

Pacific closed the gap a little in the second half, but only got as close as 20 points. McFarland put to rest any thought of a Tigers comeback scoring 18 of her points and recording six of her eight rebounds in the final 20 minutes.

Pacific was led by Karen Dawkins who had 12 points off the bench. Jerise Freeman scored 11.

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 seven games of a season, in fact, she was the first to do it in the first four games of a season. McFarland is currently second in the nation and leads the Big 12 Conference in scoring at 23.7 points per game and is third on the league charts in rebounding at 10.3 per contest.

McFarland's 23.7 points per game average over the first seven games is second all-time in school history trailing only Jamillah Lang who averaged 24.6 points over the first seven games of the 1993-94 campaign.

POINTS AVERAGE FIRST SEVEN GAMES

Name (Season) PPG
1. Jamillah Lang (1993-94) 24.6
2. Jackie McFarland (2005-06) 23.7
3. Tera Bjorklund (2003-04) 22.0
4. Tera Bjorklund (2002-03) 19.4
5. Gretchen DeWitte (1986-87) 18.6

LUBIN BACK-TO-BACK DOUBLES: With her performances against Utah State and Colorado State sophomore guard Lauren Lubin became just the fifth true guard in team history to record two or more points-rebounds double-doubles in a career and only the second to do it back-to-back games. Former Big Eight Conference MVP Bridget Turner did it in back-to-back games during the 1988-89 season and leads all CU guards with nine total points-rebounds double-doubles. Lubin joins three other guards with two points-rebounds double-doubles and included in that list is teammate Whitney Law who had a pair last season. Lubin had 13 points and 13 rebounds against Utah State and had 15 points and 10 rebounds at CSU.

CLIMBING THE ?3' LADDER: Junior Jasmina Ilic hit four 3-point field goals against Pacific and currently resides in 11th place on CU's all-time list with 57, needing just eight more to reach the 10th spot currently held by former teammate Veronica Johns-Richardson who had 65 from 2001-05.

Junior Anna Nedovic is tied with Nicky Anderson (1989-91) for 15th place on the all-time list with 41.

ABOUT THE LUMBERJACKS: Northern Arizona enters the San Juan Shootout at 5-3 and will be looking to rebound from a two game slide where the Lumberjacks scored only 41 and 48 points in losses at Vanderbilt and at BYU respectively. Northern Arizona averages just 61.1 points per game, but has kept the opposition to 62 points a contest. The Lumberjacks have received a boost from All-Big Sky center Alyssa Wahl who missed the first five games of the season, but has averaged 14 points and 5.3 rebounds in the three games since her return. Junior forward Megan Porter has stepped it up for NAU averaging a team-best 16.4 points per game to go with 5.4 rebounds per contest. NAU was 19-10 overall in 2004-05 and was picked to finish second in the annual Big Sky preseason poll.

ABOUT THE JANES: Puerto Rico-Mayaguez is 0-8 overall, playing a schedule that has featured Florida NCAA Division II schools. The Shootout games will be the Janes' first of the season on the Puerto Rican island. UPR sports just one player at 5-10, freshman center Rebeca Lopez, and eight of the 12 players on the roster are listed at 5-5. Guard Natalie Emannuelli leads UPR in scoring at 13.3 points per game and is one of three players with 16 assists (2.0 apg). Forward Aixanell Santos is UPR's top rebounder at 4.9 per contest and is second in scoring at 9.8 per game. The Janes are being outscored by 33.1 points per game and outrebounded by 26.4 per contest.

ABOUT THE BULLS: South Florida is off to the best start among San Juan Shootout participants, sitting at 6-2 on the season. The Bulls are coming off three straight against ranked teams, going 1-2 in those outings. USF's lone road game in 2005 was a 71-47 setback against No. 7/8 North Carolina on Dec. 2. The Bulls rebounded for a 79-77 overtime win at home against No. 11/13 DePaul on Dec. 7 before, most recently, falling 81-66 against No. 13/15 Michigan State on Dec. 10. Junior forward Jessica Dickson, a 2005 honorable mention Kodak All-American, is the nation's leading scorer at 25.6 points per game. She is joined by center Nalini Miller averaging 12.6 points and 7.4 rebounds per game, and forward Ezria Parsons who weighs in at a team-best 8.4 rebounds per game along with 9.3 points per contest.

SERIES RECORDS: This will be the 15th meeting between Colorado and Northern Arizona, with the Buffaloes holding a 13-1 series lead, and the first since a 78-46 CU win on Dec. 18, 1993. Northern Arizona's lone win in the series came in the only meeting between the two on a neutral court. The Lumberjacks defeated the Buffaloes in the 1986-87 season opener, 63-61, at the Chapman Tournament in Orange, Calif. Colorado has never faced South Florida or Puerto Rico-Mayaguez.

Kathy McConnell-Miller has never faced Northern Arizona, South Florida or Puerto Rico-Mayaguez as a head coach.

EXPERIMENTAL RULES: Colorado will play its three games at the San Juan Shootout with a pair of experimental rules. First, the 3-point line will be moved from its traditional distance of 19-feet, 9-inches to an experimental distance of 20-6. The line laid out on the court is actually a 3-inch thick line with the front of the line representing the women's distance of 20-6 while the back of the line is the men's experimental distance of 20-9. So essentially, women's players can have their toes on the line for a 3-point attempt, just not over it. Second, the Buffaloes will play under the 10-second rule to get the ball across half court currently used in the men's game. Colorado also played under these rules in its home exhibition games against Colorado Mines and Regis in November.

HOMECOMING FOR ESCALERA: Sophomore Yari Escalera will be playing in front of her family and friends for the first time in a Buffaloes' uniform at the San Juan Shootout. Escalera is a native of Humacao, P.R., located about 35 miles southeast of San Juan, near the eastern coast of the island. She played for the varsity team at Colegio San Antonio Abad for six season, starting her varsity tenure in the seventh grade. During her four "traditional" years of high school, she led her team to a record of 72-5, averaging over 24 points per game every year. Escalera also averaged 10.9 points per game for the Puerto Rico junior national team that finished 10th at the 2005 FIBA Women's U19 World Championship in Tunisia, Africa. The Puerto Rican contingent was the country's first representative in a women's world championship.

BOUNCING BACK FROM 2-4: Of the five times Colorado has started a season at 2-4 it has bounced back to at least a 4-4 record in three of those instances, including the last two -- 1990-2000 and 2004-05. Last season the Buffaloes reeled off a season-best five-game winning streak after starting 2-4. The 1999-2000 squad and the 1975-76 team each won three straight after starting 2-4.

NEUTRAL SITE GAMES: Colorado will be playing all three of its regular season neutral site games at the San Juan Shootout. The Buffaloes are 96-55 all-time in neutral site contests and have won their last eight regular season neutral site games since a 63-62 loss against No. 22 Tulane on Dec. 6, 1997.

NO PASSPORT NEEDED: Colorado will be playing its first regular season games outside of the United States at the San Juan Shootout. It is not the first time CU has left the United States, as the Buffs played a five-game exhibition schedule in France, Switzerland and Monaco in August of 1999.

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. CU's 58 first-half points tied for the sixth-most in team history, a feat also achieved against TCU on Dec. 7, 1993 and vs. St. Francis (Pa.) on Nov. 28, 1994.

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.

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.

WALLACE ACTIVATED: Junior forward Courtney Wallace has waited more than a year to put on the Buffaloes uniform and now laces them up with the rest of the squad. 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, who has missed the first six games of the regular season due to a Jones fracture in her left foot suffered in practice on Nov. 15, is expected to miss another four weeks, which is consistent with the original timeline of 4-8 weeks. 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.

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.

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.

TIS THE SEASON FOR WINS: Colorado has been dominant in December over the years compiling a 139-56 (.713) overall record. The Buffaloes are a whopping 67-14 (.827) at home in the 12th month.

ON THIS DATE: The University of Tennessee won an NCAA record 69 straight home games from Feb. 1, 1991 to Jan. 2, 1996. The Lady Vols' biggest scare in that streak came in game No. 38, on Dec. 20, 1993 as No. 7 Colorado came to Knoxville. CU All-American Shelly Sheetz had 25 points and five steals to lead the Buffaloes to a near upset of the nations top team as the Lady Vols squeaked out an 86-82 overtime win. It was one of only four games Tennessee had during its streak that was decided by four or fewer points and the only game sent to overtime. CU would end the season 27-5 overall, earning its second of three consecutive Sweet 16 appearances.

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.

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. Oklahoma is No. 15 in both polls while Texas is No. 19 in the AP poll and No. 22 in the coaches' poll. Texas Tech, a preseason Top 15 team in both polls, is receiving just one vote in the AP poll after a 2-5 start. South Florida is receiving votes in the coaches poll while Oregon and Kansas are receiving votes in the AP poll.

HOME AT THE CECC: Colorado is traditionally tough at home with a 292-80 all-time record at the Coors Events/Conference Center (.785). 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 will return to Boulder to host South Dakota State University on Wednesday, Dec. 28 at 7 p.m. in the Coors Events Conference Center.

For the complete release, player notes and statistics, click on the link below: