OSU Out Duels Colorado
BOULDER ? The two top scorers in the Big 12 ? Oklahoma State’s Andrea Riley and Colorado’s Jackie McFarland ? each flirted with triple-doubles, but it was Riley’s 30 points that led the Cowgirls to an 82-71 Big 12 win over the Buffaloes Saturday night at the Coors Events/Conference Center.
Colorado (13-8, 2-6) drops its third-straight game, and has won just once in seven tries while Oklahoma State (17-3, 5-2) halted a two-game skid of its own.
McFarland had 21 points, 16 rebounds and a career-high eight assists to notch her 43rd career double-double which ranks second on CU’s all-time list. She had been this close to a triple-double on one other occasion registering 15 points, 12 rebounds and a school record eight blocked shots against South Dakota State on Dec. 28, 2005.
However McFarland’s effort was overshadowed by Riley who hit the 30-point mark for the fourth time this season while collecting nine rebounds and seven assists. Riley scored 18 of her points in the second half, and 13 of those during a stretch where the Cowgirls turned a 44-39 deficit into a 67-57 lead. She hit 5-of-9 from the field during the second half including three 3-point field goals.
Riley started the run with a 3-pointer to cut CU’s lead to 44-42. The teams traded buckets, and Aija Putnina put the Buffaloes on top for the final time at 48-47 with 11:51 remaining. Shaunte’ Smith, who had a double-double with 21 points and 13 rebounds, answered with a layup to put OSU up for good and Riley hit a 3-pointer from the corner as the Cowgirls put the game out of reach with a 20-9 run.
The Buffaloes decided to defend Riley and the Cowgirls with a zone defense, which worked well for much of the game, but the Cowgirls were able to adjust just enough to pull away.
“We’re not a zone team but we worked on it a lot in practice in the few days we had to prepare,” CU head coach Kathy McConnell-Miller said. “We made a lot of the adjustments we needed to make to prepare for this game. We guarded their zone offense well. Where they hurt us was where they made adjustment to put (Andrea) Riley in the corner and that’s where they gained their separation. She was able to hit a few shots and find open people when she got the ball and we haven’t seen them do that out of a zone before. Secondly, Riley was able to go from rim to rim and penetrate when she wanted to. If she didn’t make the lay-up herself, she was able to find someone else open for a lay-up.”
OSU also took advantage of a 50-36 edge on the boards, including 17 on the offensive end.
“I thought that we did a really good job with the zone defense we played,” McFarland said. “The only bad thing that came from that was our lack of rebounding. We worked a lot on our defensive match-ups in practice, and I thought that we were very well prepared.”
Brittany Spears broke out of a two-game stretch where she scored four points total, by recording 14 points, six rebounds and matching a personal-high with five blocked shots. Putnina also had 14 points and pulled down seven rebounds.
Colorado, which had been held under 50 points the previous two games, reached 70 for the first time since its double-overtime loss to Iowa State on Jan. 13. The Buffs nailed 10 3-pointers, led by a personal-high four from Spears, and shot 37 percent from the field (25-of-67). CU improved from the field after hitting just 27 percent in its losses at Texas Tech and Iowa State.
“They work (on shooting) and they feel confident shooting the ball,” McConnell-Miller said. “The difference is in the game you have to deal with fatigue, pressure, shot clock and other variables and we have freshmen and a sophomores taking the majority of these shots. The progression of teams in the Big 12, I know they’ll improve. I’ve seen it happen and it’s because when you play the level of competition you play in this conference, it forces you to improve.”
Colorado will continue Big 12 action by hosting Nebraska on Wednesday, Feb. 6, at 8 p.m. in the Coors Events Center. The game will be televised live on Fox Sports Net Rocky Mountain.