Smith's 22 Leads CU Over Vanderbilt
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Sophomore guard Bianca Smith scored a career-high 22 points off the bench, and Colorado held off No. 20 (AP)/17 (WBCA) Vanderbilt for a 62-51 win Sunday.
Colorado (6-2) has won five straight for the first time since the 2004-05 season and has wins over ranked teams in back-to-back games for the first time since the 2002 NCAA Tournament. CU defeated No. 22/21 Wyoming at home on Wednesday 69-55. Smith had 16 points off the bench in the win over the Cowgirls.
"(This week) has been a great confidence booster for me and the the whole team heading into the rest of the preseason," Smith said. "It's also motivating for us to continue to work hard, being able to see what we can do (against a ranked team)."
Much like the Wyoming game, Colorado built a sizeable second half lead, had it almost vanish, but recover and pull away at the end. The Buffaloes led 52-32 with 7:07 to play before the Commodores went on a 17-0 run to cut the lead to 52-49 with 3:01 remaining. But Colorado made 10 consecutive free throws in the final 1:47 to secure the victory.
"We are playing with a lot of confidence right now and that shows in our execution and the way in which we have prepared," CU head coach Kathy McConnell-Miller said. "Most importantly we've got five players on the floor that can make plays. When you have five on the floor that can make plays you become difficult to guard. Last year we were more one dimensional but through experience and the addition of players we are a better balanced team."
Jackie McFarland scored 12 points in a 27-5 run in the second half that helped the Buffaloes build a 20-point lead.
McFarland had 16 points for Colorado. Liz Sherwood led Vanderbilt (8-3) with 22 points. Redshirt freshman center Courtney Dunn, whose 6-4 size provided a key defensive match up against Sherwood, had five points and five rebounds.
Brittany Spears had eight points, a team-high seven rebounds and three steals.
Both teams struggled offensively in the first half, with Vanderbilt shooting 40.9 percent from the floor and Colorado 38.9, and the
Buffaloes couldn't have imagined a worse start committing eight turnovers and missing two field goals on their first 10 possessions. Despite the turnovers, Vanderbilt could only build an 8-0 lead before the Buffaloes fought back.
Smith gave CU its first points with a long two with 13:54 remaining in the half and just kept on going. Smith scored 13 of CU's first 17 points on 5-of-7 shooting and her 3-pointer at the 7:57 mark gave the Buffaloes their first lead at 17-14.
Colorado struggled with turnovers early, but so did the Commodores. The Buffaloes had 15 in the first half, but Vandy nearly countered with 14. The Commodores were held scoreless for nearly nine minutes before Sherwood and Jennifer Risper scored consecutive baskets as Vanderbilt retook the lead at 18-17.
The Buffaloes were able to get to the free-throw line in the final minutes of the half as McFarland and Hannah Skildum hit four straight to give CU a 21-18 halftime lead. Later in the half, Vanderbilt went 8:34 without scoring. Colorado took advantage, as Smith scored 13 of the team's first 17 points, capped by back-to-back 3-pointers, to give the Buffaloes a 17-14 advantage.
Colorado returns home to host Texas Southern University on Friday, Dec. 14, at 7 p.m. at the Coors Events/Conference Center.
Colorado claims its first ever win against Vanderbilt in five tries (1-4)
Colorado has won five straight for the first time since the tail end of the 2004-05 non conference schedule
After breaking a 23-game losing streak against ranked teams in its last game against Wyoming, Colorado has a two-game win streak against ranked teams for the first time since knocking off No. 23 Washington and No. 24 Baylor in 2003-04. It's the first win over two ranked teams in back-to-back games since the 2002 NCAA Tournament when they knocked off No. 22/24 LSU in the second round and No. 5 Stanford in the sweet 16.
The win is Colorado's first on the road over a ranked opponent since defeating No. 24 Baylor 69-59 in Waco on Jan. 7, 2004
The win is Colorado's first on the road over a ranked team as an unranked team since defeating No. 12 Texas in Austin, 60-56 on Feb. 26, 1997
The 51 points yielded to Vanderbilt are the lowest CU has allowed to a ranked team since No. 1 Texas edged No. 12 Colorado, 51-45 on Feb. 14, 2004.
Colorado handed Vanderbilt just its second loss in its last 23 home games, the other coming last season against eventual national champion Tennessee.
Colorado improves to 3-1 on the road this season, its first two-game win streak on the road since defeating Pacific and Washington on the same road trip in December 2004. Colorado had won just one road game in each of the last two seasons (2-19).
Colorado was 16-of-16 from the free throw line in the second half.
Sophomore Bianca Smith had a career-high 22 points and is averaging 14.8 points off the bench over the last four games
Smith had four 3-point field goals to give her 50 for her career; 15th on CU's all-time list