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Buffaloes Defense Swarms Colorado Mines

Nov 5, 2006

BOULDER - Senior Jasmina Ilic had a game-high 23 points and freshman Aija Putnina added 12 as the University of Colorado defeated the Colorado School of Mines 73-37 in a women's exhibition basketball contest Sunday afternoon at the Coors Events/Conference Center.


Ilic hit 8-of-13 from the field including 5-of-8 (62.5 percent) from 3-point range. Putnina, was 4-of-8 from the field and added seven rebounds, three steals and two assists.


Pressure defense was the dominant theme as the Buffaloes forced 33 Orediggers' turnovers. CU had 23 turnovers of its own, but offset that with 15 steals.


CU held Mines to just 32.5 percent from the field (13-of-40). In their two exhibition games, the Buffaloes opponents were limited to just 28 percent shooting (27-of-97)


"We have a different (defensive) mentality," CU head coach Kathy McConnell-Miller said. "It comes from having Coach (Tom) McConnell on the staff. In the past couple years he's talked to me about really playing the type of defense that makes people take tough shots: not giving them lay-ups, not giving backdoors, really playing in the gaps and improving this wall, this Colorado wall."


The Buffaloes forced 22 Colorado Mines turnovers in the first 20 minutes. Colorado Mines made only 5-of-17 shots in the first half and the Buffs built a 35-19 halftime lead.


CU trailed 10-9 with just under 15 minutes remaining in the first half, when freshman Candace Rucker sparked an 11-2 Colorado run with five straight points. Rucker sank a lay-up off a pass from center Kara Richards and was fouled by Iva Tomova. Rucker made her free throw attempt and on Mines next trip down the court, she stole the ball from Emily Dalton and drove the length of the floor for the layup giving CU a 14-10 lead.


Colorado held Mines to a pair of free-throws for a 6:37 span as the Buffs lead grew to 25-12. Mines cut the CU lead to nine with 1:41 remaining in the half, but CU closed out on a 7-0 run. Ilic hit a long 3-pointer from the left sandwiched between a short jumper and break-away layup by freshman Whitney Houston. Houston rebounded from slow start on Friday to pitch in nine points along with two assists and two steals.


"I think we definitely improved from Friday night's game in a lot of areas, as far as execution, as far as different players stepping up and doing some different things," McConnell-Miller said. "I thought the shot selection was better overall. At times, I thought the transition defense was better, and the decision making on the defense, and not taking any chances."

Colorado's bench game through in a big way scoring 43 points, compared to just four for the Orediggers. CU's starting frontcourt of Richards and Jackie McFarland struggled with foul trouble combining for just four points and seven rebounds.

"It was actually a great test for us with the foul trouble for (Jackie) McFarland and Kara Richards," McConnell-Miller said.  "Mines' objective was, point blank, they were going to take away our inside game. No matter when Kara (Richards) caught it or Jackie caught it they had two and three players on them, and it was a great test for them.


Colorado will officially open the 2006-07 regular season by hosting the University of San Francisco on Friday, Nov. 10, at 6 p.m., at the CECC. The game is the first of a CU women's-men's doubleheader as the Buffs men's squad hosts the University of Denver at 8:30 p.m. in their opener. Both games will be aired live on Fox Sports Net Rocky Mountain.