Colorado Defense Stops South Dakota State
BOULDER - Sophomore Jackie McFarland nearly had a triple double and the Colorado defense held South Dakota State to just 23 percent from the field as the Buffaloes claimed a 64-50 win over the Jackrabbits Wednesday evening at the Coors Events Conference Center.
Colorado improves to 5-6 overall while SDSU drops to 7-5.
McFarland had 15 points, a game-high 10 rebounds, and tied a school-record with eight blocked shots for her sixth double-double in 11 games and ending just short of what would have been the first triple double in CU women's basketball history. McFarland's eight blocks ties former Buff Britt Hartshorn who also had eight against Nebraska on Jan. 23, 1999.
South Dakota State made just 16-of-69 from the field. The Jackrabbits had 23 more shot attempts than Colorado, but the Buffaloes actually had one more field goal on the night hitting 17-of-46 for 37 percent.
"We played good team defense," McFarland said. "(SDSU shooters) were just going by me and I was in good position."
Sophomore point guard Yari Escalera scored all 14 of her points in the second half, helping the Buffaloes outscore the Jacks 34-20 in the final 15 minutes of the period. Escalera, who also recorded a career-high seven assists, got the start at point guard in place of Whitney Law who missed the game with a left ankle sprain. Junior Jasmina Ilic also had a big showing in the second half scoring 11 of her game-high 19 points and five of her six rebounds in the final 20 minutes.
"We have been tested this season," CU head coach Kathy McConnell-Miller said. "Tonight I think we were in a position where we had our back against the wall. We knew we needed a win. They knew what needed to be done and they did it. It was a quality win."
With SDSU up 29-28 early in the second half, Ilic scored five straight points to cap off an 11-1 run with 10:25 remaining that gave CU its largest lead up to that point at 39-30. SDSU answered with eight straight to cut the lead to 39-38 on a Courtney Grimsrud jumper and back-to-back 3-pointers by Natalie Carda and Heather Sieler.
Instead of crumbling, Colorado responded. Escalera and Ilic each hit 3-pointers during an 11-2 run that put CU back up by 50-40 with 5:45 remaining. SDSU never got closer than eight the rest of the game.
It was another stellar night at the foul line for the Buffaloes. Colorado, which came into the contest with the second-best free-throw percentage in the Big 12 Conference at 73.9 percent, hit 23-of-27 from the line (85.2 percent), including 16-of-17 (94.1 percent) in the second half.
Colorado and South Dakota State played even in a tightly contested first half that featured cold shooting on both sides and a considerable rebounding edge for the Jacks. SDSU held a 27-20 edge in the first half, including 12 on the offensive accounting for an 11-0 Jacks advantage in second chance points.
After hitting three off their first six shots to build an early 8-3 lead, SDSU made just five of its next 31 (16 percent) to finish at 21.6 percent for the half. Colorado was just slightly better at 26.1 percent (6-of-23), and was 2-of-8 from the 3-point line. McFarland had six points, 10 of CU's 20 rebounds, and four blocks in the first half to lead the Buffaloes.
Colorado will return to action on Friday, Dec. 30, to host the University of Oregon at the Coors Events/Conference Center at 7 p.m.