Fast Start Paces Buffs To 80-64 Win Over Cal State Northridge
BOULDER — Junior Jackie McFarland recorded her third-straight double-double to open the season as her 21-point, 14-rebound effort paced Colorado to an 80-64 win over Cal State Northridge Sunday afternoon at the Coors Events/Conference Center.
McFarland, the reigning Big 12 Conference Player of the Week, hit 6-of-10 from the floor and added three assists and one block. She is the only player in team history to start two different seasons with three-straight double-doubles as she also did it in 2005-06.
While McFarland's numbers accumulated throughout the game, hot shooting early by Colorado's outside players allowed the Buffaloes to build a big first half lead. The Buffaloes hit 56.3 percent from the floor in the first half and led by as much as 20, before heading into the locker room with a 48-30 lead.
Freshman Bianca Smith scored all of her career-high 14 points in the first half on 6-of-8 shooting and senior Jasmina Ilic scored 12 of her 18 points in the first 20 minutes on 5-of-9 from the field. Both Ilic and Smith hit a pair of 3-point field goals in the first period and McFarland added another as the Buffs were 5-of-8 from downtown in the first half.
Colorado jumped out a 9-2 lead, but it was quickly erased as Cal State Northridge scored the next seven to tie it at nine. After making just one of their first six shots, the Matadors made six of their next seven to take the lead at 18-16 with 11:29 remaining.
The CU guards then went to work. After a McFarland lay up to tie the score at 18, Ilic drilled a 3-pointer and Smith followed with a 3-pointer of her own and a circus lay up shot from the right side as CU went back up 27-18. Cal State Northridge scored six straight to get within four at 27-24, but Smith, Ilic and McFarland drained buckets on consecutive possessions to increase the lead to 33-24.
"It felt good to see our shots going in," Smith said. "It helped our confidence on the defensive end, going down and having that cushion to play harder."
Matador guard LaJoyce King picked up her fourth foul with 4:30 left in the half and then in frustration picked up a technical. McFarland and freshman Whitney Houston combined to make all four free throws as the Buffaloes led 37-24.
CU missed its first six shots of the second half and Matador senior Ofa Tulikihihifo scored seven straight to bring Northridge back to within 11 at 50-39. Center Kara Richards then scored on a 3-point play and Ilic connected on a running jumper to move CU's lead back to 55-39 and the Matadors wouldn't get closer than 13 the rest of the way.
"(Cal State Northridge) came in here and really battled with us," CU head coach Kathy McConnell-Miller said. "I really like their squad and I thought they challenged us for 40 minutes on every end of the floor. I think we did a really nice job of keeping our composure, we had some young groups out there that turned the ball over but I thought when we needed a bucket, players stepped up and hit key shots. We handled ourselves better than we have in the last few games."
Freshman Aija Putnina provided a defensive spark off the bench grabbing eight rebounds and recording two steals and one blocked shot. The Buffaloes out-rebounded the Matadors 46-35, their largest margin this season.
Tulikihihifo finished with 20 points for the Matadors while Jamie McCaa had 13 points and 10 rebounds.
Colorado will venture out on the road for the first time in 2006-07 as the Buffaloes will play the University of Wyoming on Tuesday, Nov. 21, at 7 p.m. in Laramie.