Buffs Fall Short Of No. 16/15 Vanderbilt, 81-76
BOULDER — Colorado junior Jackie McFarland scored a game-high 27 points and grabbed 12 rebounds, but No. 16/15 ranked Vanderbilt held on for an 81-76 decision Sunday afternoon at the Coors Events Conference Center.
McFarland, who hit 10-of-14 from the floor, secured her second-straight and 21st career double-double as Colorado (1-1) nearly erased a 17-point second half deficit. She scored 15 of her 27 points in the final 10:35, including her fourth career 3-point field goal followed by two conventional 3-point plays in the last minute.
Vanderbilt (1-0) was led by Carla Thomas who scored 26 points and grabbed seven rebounds and nearly single-handedly built Vanderbilt's 17-point lead in the second half. The Commodores took an eight point lead into the locker room after guard Merideth Marsh hit a half-court shot at the buzzer, for her only points of the game. Thomas then came out and hit her first four shots of the second half as Vanderbilt started the period on a 13-4 run.
The Buffaloes closed to 65-69 with 1:57 to go after a free throw from Whitney Houston. But Caroline Williams calmly hit the last of her four 3-pointers 15 seconds later and Dee Davis buried two free throws to give Vanderbilt breathing room at 74-65.
McFarland's two, conventional three-point plays closed the game to 76-74 with 23 seconds left. Williams and Davis sank two free throws apiece to preserve the win.
"That was probably one of the best things about this afternoon's game," CU head coach Kathy McConnell-Miller said. "Down 17, they could've packed it up and they could've folded. It could've gone to a 30-point game."
Senior Jasmina Ilic had eight of her 14 points in the second half and dished out three assists to help the Buffaloes second-half run. Colorado shot 47.5 percent from the field (28-of-59) while the Commodores hit 50 percent (28-of-56). Nearly every category was even between Vanderbilt and CU, with the exception of free throws. Colorado, which made just 10-of-22 two nights earlier against San Francisco, made just 14-of-23 for 61 percent.
"Last year we played a lot of really close games, so that was a little frustrating," McFarland said. "But when you look at it, they are the 15th ranked team in the country right now, and we were right there with them. We had the lead once, for the first seven minutes I thought we were playing better than them, then we had a lull but still came back at the end. I think we felt there wasn't anything they could do to stop us at the end, but it just wasn't enough."
Colorado game out of the gate on fire hitting five of its first seven shots, building a 13-5 lead. Smith and Ilic each hit a pair of 3-pointers and guard Susie Powers added one of her own. Colorado led for most of the first 13 minutes of play, before Vanderbilt closed the period on a 17-8 run.
Williams finished with 21 points for Vanderbilt while Christina Wirth added 14.
Colorado will continue its season-opening home stand by hosting Calfornia State University-Northridge on Sunday, Nov. 19, at 1 p.m. in the Coors Events Conference Center.