Buffs Knock Off #15 Kansas State
BOULDER - Bianca Smith hit one of the biggest 3-pointers of her young career.
Too bad the Colorado sophomore can't remember it.
Smith's long jumper from the corner broke a tie game and lifted the Colorado Buffaloes to a 73-68 win over No. 15 Kansas State on Saturday night.
Yet she couldn't recall one detail of it. The shot remained a blur.
"I think there was so much adrenaline, I forgot those last few minutes," said Smith, who finished with 17 points, hitting five 3-pointers. "It felt great to come back and hit the big shots late in the game."
That's what Colorado needed to beat its third ranked team this season. Colorado (15-11, 4-9 Big 12) has now won two straight after dropping six in a row.
"It's nice to get our swagger back," said Jackie McFarland, who scored 17 of her 19 points in the second half.
The Wildcats (18-8, 10-3) have lost two in a row, and had their seven-game road winning streak halted. Kansas State also tumbled out of a tie with Baylor for the conference lead.
Kansas State coach Deb Patterson had a simple explanation for the loss — defense. She wasn't pleased with the fact Colorado shot nearly 47 percent from the field.
"I don't think we were good in any aspect defensively," she said.
She also blamed the Wildcats' woes on foul trouble. Marlies Gipson, the team's second-leading scorer, played just 17 minutes due to foul trouble, and eventually fouled out with 5:49 remaining. She scored just six points, all in the first half.
Ashley Sweat was in a similar predicament and fouled out late in the game after scoring 15 points.
"The foul situation made it tough for us," Patterson said. "Getting 17 minutes from Gipson — it's tough."
The Wildcats were led in scoring by Shalee Lehning, who finished with 19 points. Kimberly Dietz, who's from Boulder, had 16, hitting four 3-pointers.
"It's always good to come home," Dietz said. "It's too bad we have to leave here with a loss, though."
Part of the Wildcats' problem was trying to guard McFarland. The Buffaloes senior made a decision to drive more to the hoop after having more assists (5) than points (2) in the opening 20 minutes.
"Coach gave me the green light," McFarland said.
With Kansas State keeping a close watch on McFarland, Brittany Spears and Smith were the beneficiaries. Spears finished with a team-high 20 points, hitting four 3-pointers.
"They're in the gym all the time and they can shoot the 3," Colorado coach Kathy McConnell-Miller said. "I thought they showed a lot of mental toughness down the stretch."
Spears' 3-pointer with 1:44 remaining momentarily gave the Buffaloes a 66-64 lead, but then Lehning tied it up with two free throws.
Smith hit a 3-pointer with just under a minute remaining to give the Buffaloes a 69-66 lead.
After Lehning glided in for a layup with 44 seconds left, the Buffaloes worked the shot clock down and Whitney Houston launched a 3-pointer that bounded off the back of the rim.
McFarland grabbed the rebound, went back up and was fouled as she made the shot, completing a three-point play with 16.1 seconds left to seal a win for Colorado. With the three-point play, she passed former CU All-American Shelley Sheetz for third place on the Buffs' all-time scoring list. McFarland now has 1,778 points in 113 career games.
"Getting a win like this feels incredible," McFarland said.
And makes her wish that her career wasn't winding down.
"I see this talent coming in and team chemistry — we've got a great group of girls," McFarland said. "It makes me really sad. I wish I could stay."