Buffs Drop Fourth Straight
BOULDER - In a game of runs, Nebraska had a couple more than Colorado and at the right time as well.
Colorado (13-8, 2-7 Big 12) trailed by two at the half (36-35), but Spears scored six points during a 12-5 run to open the second period, giving the Buffaloes a 47-41 lead. Nebraska (16-6, 6-3) answered with six straight points to tie the game, five of which were scored by Kelsey Griffin who led all players with 25 points.
The Buffaloes struggled on the inside as All-Big 12 forward Jackie McFarland was held to just one free throw and just 0-of-2 from the field. For McFarland, who entered the game averaging 18.9 points per game, it was her lowest output since being held scoreless in her first ever Big 12 game at Nebraska on Jan. 5, 2005. McFarland did have 10 rebounds for the 45th double-digit rebounding performance of her career.
Although McFarland was held in check, other Buffs made sure it was a competitive game all the way to the end. Spears was 6-of-14 from the field and also had eight rebounds, six assists and two blocks. Smith, making her second start of the season, tied a career high with five 3-point field goals and was 7-of-15 from the floor overall.
CU's bench also provided a big spark. With McFarland being double-teamed the whole night, junior forward Caley Dow had her best Big 12 game of 2008 registering season-highs with eight points and seven rebounds in 30 minutes. Sophomore guard Whitney Houston had 10 points, her most since she had 11 against Siena on Nov. 23, with two assists and one steal.
Colorado held a 64-61 lead with 3:51 left after Smith layup, but it quickly vanished when Yvonne Turner hit her third 3-pointer of the night to tie the game. Danielle Page gave Nebraska the lead on a turn-around jumper and on the next possession, Turner stole the ball from Houston and took it all the way in to give the Huskers a 68-64 advantage. Griffin scored the next time down the floor for Nebraska and the Huskers put the game away with free throws hitting 10-of-12 in the final 1:37.
"I think that at the end of the game Nebraska knew they were going to win the game and we were wondering if we would win the game," CU head coach Kathy McConnell-Miller said. "I thought that we made a lot of adjustments in the first half, and rested a lot of players. We also had a good rotation of players. It was a really strong first half performance with exception of the run Nebraska had at the end. I thought that we handled ourselves for 37 minutes of the game. It was a rough night for Jackie [McFarland], there is not doubt about it. She was being doubled by two of the strongest post players in the conference. I thought that Caley Dow came in and did a nice job and responded well to the double team. We have to learn and get better from these particular games."
After falling behind 11-4 to open the game, Colorado stormed back with a 15-0 run. Smith hit three consecutive 3-point attempts on the run and good ball movement allowed for easy layups by Houston, Dow and Spears. Nebraska trimmed the lead to four at 19-15 before an 8-0 run gave CU its largest lead of the game at 27-15.
However the lead didn't last as Nebraska hit five 3-pointers in the final 5:21 of the first half during a 21-8 run to take a one-point lead at halftime.
Colorado will continue Big 12 action by traveling to play No. 10 Oklahoma on Saturday, Feb. 9, at 6 p.m. MST at the Lloyd Noble Center in Norman, Okla.