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Buffs Travel To Cal State Fullerton To Begin West Coast Swing

Dec 6, 2006

THE GAME: The University of Colorado will begin a three-game road trip by facing California State University Fullerton on Thursday, Dec. 7, at 8 p.m. MST at Titan Gym in Fullerton, Calif.

BROADCAST: All Colorado women's basketball regular and post season games are broadcast live on KKZN AM 760, Boulder's Progressive Talk station. Mike Rice will handle play by play duties. Live internet audio can be accessed through the Yahoo! Sports.

ABOUT THE BUFFALOES: Colorado is 5-3 and off to its best start since 2003-04 when the Buffaloes started 7-1 through eight games. The 2003-04 season also marks CU's last appearance in the NCAA Tournament. Colorado has won three of its last four and are more than half way to their win total for the 2005-06 season (9-21).

Junior forward Jackie McFarland has had a fantastic start to the season. Averaging 20.5 points and 10.6 rebounds per game, it is the first time in team history a player has averaged 20-10 through the first eight games of the season. McFarland is shooting 67.9 percent (57-of-84) a mark that tops the Big 12 Conference and ranks third in NCAA Division I (through games of Dec. 3). She was named Big 12 Player of the Week for the season's opening weekend (Nov. 13) and named to the Coors Classic All-Tournament Team. She opened the season with three-straight double-doubles and has tied a league-best with six this season. It is only the third time in CU history that a player has began the season with three-straight double-doubles, and McFarland is two of those instances (2005-06). The only other player to start a season with three straight is CU's all-time leading scorer Lisa VanGoor who did it in 1982-83.

Senior guard/forward Jasmina Ilic is second on the team in scoring at 12.4 points per game and has a team-best 13 3-point field goals. She has scored in double-digits in six of eight games and surpassed 800 career points during her 22-point effort against Southern California (she now has 819). Senior guard Susie Powers has dished out 18 assists and is averaging 3.4 points over the first eight games.

Four freshman Buffs are contributing significant minutes, just a handful of games into their collegiate careers. Redshirt freshman guard Bianca Smith has made five starts and is averaging 5.8 points per game, including seven 3-point field goals. Freshman Whitney Houston has started the last three of the last four games including the Coors Classic games where she averaged 11.5 points on 73 percent shooting (8-of-11) and four assists. She tied a team season-high with six assists against Charlotte and ranks fourth among freshmen in the Big 12, and tied for 12th overall, with 3.0 assists per game. Fellow Memphis, Tenn., native Candace Rucker has been one of the first players off the bench for Colorado and is averaging 4.6 points, 3.5 rebounds and 1.1 steals per game.

Forward Aija Putnina has moved into the starting lineup with the foot injury to Kara Richards (see note below) and has made an immediate impact. She is averaging 10.5 points, a team-best 13.0 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game as a starter. She has four straight-double-digit rebounding games, including back-to-back career-high 14-board outputs against Colorado State and USC. Putnina is the first freshman to record four-straight games with 10 or more rebounds since Erin Scholz had four in a row in 1993-94. Only all-time leading scorer Lisa VanGoor had longer streaks as a freshman, compiling separate streaks of five and six games during her maiden season in 1980-81.

She recorded back-to-back double-doubles at the Coors Classic, becoming the first freshman to achieve that feat in back-to-back games since Sabrina Scott did it at the end of the 1999-2000 season and only the fourth time overall since 1993-94 when Erin Scholz did it twice. Putnina then nearly missed a third double-double by registering eight points and a career-high 14 rebounds against Colorado State.

The Buffaloes will be looking to reverse the shooting woes that have plagued them the last two games. After shooting 49 percent over its first six games (153-of-312), Colorado has made just 31.1 percent from the field during the last two contests (38-of-122). The Buffaloes have managed to keep its opponent shooting percentage down as well at just under 40 percent (194-of-486) for the season and are enjoying an early season plus-5.8 margin in rebounding thanks to the duo of Putnina and McFarland who combine for 19 of the squad's 40.6 rebounds per game.

Colorado will be looking for just its fifth win in its last 20 road games dating back to the beginning of the 2004-05 season.

RICHARDS OUT 2-TO-4 WEEKS WITH FOOT FRACTURE: Center Kara Richards will miss the next 2-to-4 weeks after being diagnosed with a fracture to the fourth metatarsal of her left foot on Nov. 23. The fracture is on the same foot, but a different bone than the injury that forced her to miss the 2005-06 campaign. Richards suffered a Jones Fracture -- an injury to the fifth metatarsal -- three days before the 2005-06 season opener. Unlike last season, her injury will not require surgery or even a cast. Richards ranked third on the team in scoring at 8.8 points per contest through three games and was shooting 56.5 percent from the field (13-of-23).

RICHARDS GRANTED MEDICAL HARDSHIP: Center Kara Richards received some good news on Dec. 2 as the Big 12 Conference office granted her a medical hardship for missing the 2005-06 season. Richards season was lost after suffering a Jones fracture ? a fracture to the fifth metatarsal ? in her left foot on Nov. 15, 2005, just three day's before CU's season opening win over Cal State Fullerton. The medical hardship means she returns to sophomore standing for the 2006-07 season and will have two more years of eligibility remaining.

McFARLAND BIG 12 PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Jackie McFarland was named the Phillips 66 Big 12 Women's Basketball Player of the Week by a media voting panel on Nov. 13 for the opening weekend of games.

This is McFarland's third career weekly honor from the Big 12 as she was twice named the league's Rookie of the Week during the 2004-05 season.

McFarland averaged 22 points, 12 rebounds and two steals while shooting 71 percent from the field (17-of-24) in games against San Francisco and No. 16/15 ranked Vanderbilt over the weekend.

McFarland had 17 points on 7-of-10 shooting and 12 rebounds in the season-opening 62-56 win over San Francisco. She scored a game-high 27 points and pulled down 12 rebounds along with two assists and three steals against No. 16/15 Vanderbilt. McFarland recorded double-doubles in both games for the 20th and 21st of her career. She had nine points ? a 3-pointer and two conventional 3-point plays ? in the final minute against VU as Colorado nearly erased a 17-point second half deficit.

THE COACH: Kathy McConnell-Miller is in her second season as Colorado's head coach and in her eighth season at the helm of an NCAA Division I program. She is 14-24 with the Buffaloes and has an overall head coaching record of 105-112.

ABOUT THE TITANS: Cal State Fullerton is 2-6 overall and will be playing in its third straight home game after beginning its season with six straight away from Titan Gym. The Titans road schedule was tough, including losses at Iowa State (85-62 on Nov. 15) and Nebraska (76-62 on Nov. 17). Cal State Fullerton is coming off an 84-74 home loss to UCLA.

Sophomore forward Toni Thomas leads the Titans at 16.8 points and 7.6 rebounds per game. The 2006 Big West Conference Freshman of the Year, Thomas is hitting 47.3 percent from the field (53-of-112) including 9-of-20 (.450) from 3-point range. Senior forward Charlee Underwood is second on the team in scoring at 14.4 per game and has a team-best 15 3-point field goals. The Titans are scoring just under 60 points per game and hitting 38 percent from the field (171-of-450).

SERIES RECORDS: This will be the fifth meeting between Colorado and Cal State Fullerton with the Buffaloes winning all four previous contests. CU has played just once at Titan Gym, coming away with a 77-63 win on Dec. 30, 1987. Last season, the Buffaloes opened the Kathy McConnell-Miller era with a bang downing the Titans 100-71 on Nov. 18 in Boulder.

Kathy McConnell-Miller is 1-0 as a head coach against Cal State Fullerton.

ON THIS DATE: Colorado is 10-2 all-time on Dec. 7, with a 1-1 mark on the road. The Buffs will be playing on Dec. 7 for the first time since 2002, a 74-42 win over Evansville in the Oakland Classic in Berkeley, Calif.

HOME LOSS-ROAD WIN: Colorado will be looking for its first road win following a home loss since defeating the University of Missouri 56-51 in Columbia on Jan. 18, 2005. The Buffs had dropped the prior game at home to No. 13 Texas Tech University, 87-41, on Jan. 15. CU has dropped its last seven road contests following a home loss.

MILESTONE WINS: With a 56-51 win over Colorado State, CU won its 600th women's basketball game and now stands 600-356 in 32-plus seasons. CU's overall .628 winning percentage ranks fourth all-time among Big 12 Conference teams, trailing only Texas, Texas Tech and Kansas State.

With its 78-65 win over Charlotte in the Coors Classic, Colorado won its 300th game at the Coors Events Conference Center, and now stands at 301-89 (.772) all-time at the facility.

CLIMBING THE 3-POINT LADDER: Jasmina Ilic hit three 3-point fields goals against Southern California to move her career total to 107 which is seventh on CU's all-time list. She needs two more to reach Alexis Felts (1994-98) who is in sixth with 109.

Anna Nedovic needs three 3-point field goals to reach 50.

CLOSING IN ON 1,000 POINTS: Jasmina Ilic and Jackie McFarland are both on pace to reach the 1,000 point mark this season and would become the 19th and 20th Buffs to reach that milestone. They would be the first pair of teammates to hit the mark in the same season since Britt Hartshorn, Jenny Roulier and Mandy Nightingale hit 1,000 within two weeks of each other in November 2001. McFarland needs 49 points as she is 24th on CU's all-time scoring list with 951 points. Using her season average of 20.5 ppg, she would reach the mark in about three games (Dec. 13 at South Dakota State). Ilic needs 181 points, which by using her season average of 12.4 ppg, she would reach around the game at the University of Kansas on Feb. 6.

MORE NUMBERS FOR McFARLAND: Jackie McFarland began the season with three-straight double-doubles, equalling her output from the 2005-06 season. The only other player in CU history to record three-straight double-doubles to open a season is CU's all-time leading scorer Lisa VanGoor, who did it in 1982-83. She now has double-doubles in six of eight games, which is tied for the lead in the Big 12.

McFarland's 25 career double-doubles are third on the CU charts and her 25 double-digit rebounding games rank fifth on CU's all-time list. She needs one more double-digit rebounding game to tie Sandy Bean (1978-82) for fourth on the all-time list.

McFarland became the 17th player in CU history to reach 500 rebounds, surpassing the mark during the win over Nevada on Nov. 24. She is currently 16th on the career list with 530 and needs 117 to move into CU's Top 10 list. She is ninth on CU's career list for blocked shots with 70. McFarland needs 30 to reach 100 and would be just the sixth Buff to reach the century mark. She is tied with Britt Hartshorn (1998-02) for 12th on CU's career list with 270 free-throws made.

COME FROM BEHIND WIN BREAKS LONG DROUGHT: CU's 62-56 win over San Francisco broke a 26-game losing streak when the Buffaloes trailed at halftime dating back to a 56-51 win at Missouri on Jan. 18, 2005. USF led 30-26 at the break, but the Buffs outscored the Dons 36-26 in the second half.

STILL IN NEED OF A WIN OVER A RANKED TEAM: After its competitive 81-76 loss to No. 16/15 Vanderbilt, Colorado is still searching for its first win over a ranked team in 17 tries dating back to January of 2004. The Buffaloes last win over a ranked opponent was a 69-59 decision at No. 24 Baylor on Jan. 7, 2004. CU was ranked No. 14 at the time. The last time CU was unranked and defeated a ranked opponent was in the second round of the 2003 NCAA Tournament when the Buffaloes knocked off No. 12 North Carolina 86-67.

BUFFS IN OPENERS: Colorado is 28-5 (.844) all-time in season openers and a whopping 32-1 (.970) all-time in home openers. The Buffs' lone loss in a season-opening home game was a 77-63 setback to Michigan on Nov. 21, 1999. CU has won seven straight season debuts and 20 of its last 21 with the lone loss in that span coming at Denver on Nov. 19, 1999.

DECEMBER SUCCESS: December has generally been good to Colorado as the Buffaloes prepare for league competition at the turn of the calendar. CU is 110-51 (.683) all-time in the month of December including a solid 56-11 mark at the Coors Events Center. CU is 28-10 in December since 2000.

EARLY START: The Nov. 10 start against USF was the third earliest start for the Buffs and the second earliest home game in their 33-year history. CU's earliest start came in season No. 2 as the Buffs dropped an 81-80 decision at Nebraska on Nov. 6, 1976. CU's earliest start at the Coors Events Center is much more recent as the Buffs hosted Oral Roberts in a preseason WNIT game on Nov. 9, 2001, a 78-49 CU win.

BUFFS PICKED 11TH: CU was picked to finish 11th in the annual Big 12 Coaches Preseason Poll. The Buffaloes received 26 points, an improvement from the 14 points received a year ago when the CU was picked to finish last. CU was 9-21 overall in 2005-06 and finished 11th in the Big 12 race with a 3-13 mark.

Defending league champion Oklahoma was picked to repeat its title receiving all 11 possible first place votes for a total of 121 points. Coaches were not allowed to vote for their own team. Big 12 Southern Division teams dominated the upper half of the poll, taking the top four spots. Texas A&M was picked second with 107 points, followed by Texas (101) and Baylor (94).

Iowa State came in fifth with 68 points, just edging out Nebraska which was picked sixth with 66. Kansas State and Texas Tech tied for seventh with 57 points followed by Missouri (43), Kansas (36), CU (26) and Oklahoma State (16).

TOUGH SCHEDULE: Colorado once again faces a tough schedule with no less than 17 games against 2006 NCAA or WNIT tournament teams. The Buffaloes will host perennial NCAA women's powers Southern California and Vanderbilt during the non-conference season as well as region rival Colorado State. Baylor, Texas Tech and Oklahoma come to Boulder this year out of the Big 12 South along with the Buffs' usual Big 12 North opponents.

HOME AT THE CECC: Colorado is traditionally tough at home with a 301-89 all-time record at the Coors Events/Conference Center (.772). The Buffaloes have won 10 or more games in a season at the CECC in 18 of the previous 28 years including five undefeated seasons (1980-83, 1992-94). The Buffaloes, 5-2 at home this season, have only three seasons of sub-.500 play in the 28 years of the Coors Events Center.

BUFFS ON TV: Colorado's schedule features nine games that will be televised either regionally or nationally by Fox Sports Net. Two games are part of the Big 12's national package with FSN: Sunday, Jan. 28, at Missouri and Saturday, Feb. 10, at home against Nebraska. FSN Rocky Mountain will televise six CU home games beginning with the regular season opener against San Francisco on Friday, Nov. 10. FSN Midwest will televise CU's game at Kansas State on Wed., Feb. 14, which could potentially be picked up by FSN Rocky Mountain as well.

UP NEXT: Colorado will fly north to Portland to face the University of Oregon on Saturday, Dec. 9, at 4 p.m. MST, in the 2006 Pape Jam at the Rose Garden.