Buffs Host TCU Sunday In WNIT
THE GAME: The University of Colorado will host Texas Christian University in a Women's National Invitation Tournament (WNIT) quarterfinal game on Sunday, March 30, at 2 p.m. at the Coors Events/Conference Center. The Buffaloes received a first round bye and defeated Gonzaga 82-68 on March 24 in the second round and Villanova 64-58 on March 27 in the third round. TCU knocked off Texas Tech 81-74 in its third round game March 26 to advance to Boulder. Like the Buffaloes, the Horned Frogs received a first round bye and then defeated Boise State 85-56 in the second round on March 23. The winner of this game will advance to the WNIT semifinals and will face either Marquette or Kentucky with a location, date and time to be determined. Marquette plays at Kentucky on Sunday.
BROADCAST: All Colorado women's basketball postseason games will be broadcast on KKZN AM 760. Mike Rice, in his second season, will have the play-by-play with Carol Callan of USA Basketball providing the color commentary. Live internet audio can be accessed through Yahoo! Sports. Sunday's game will be streamed live and free to the public through BuffsTV on CUBuffs.com.
POSTSEASON FACTS: Some facts about Colorado and the postseason:
- Colorado's win over Gonzaga was its first postseason victory since defeating North Carolina in the second round of the 2003 NCAA Tournament, 86-67, in Boulder.
- Colorado is in postseason play for the 18th time in team history with an overall record of 25-17. The Buffs played in four AIAW Tournaments from 1979-82 (5-4) and have made 12 NCAA Tournament appearances (17-12).
- This is Colorado's second trip to the postseason WNIT. The Buffs also participated in the 1999 WNIT defeating BYU 70-53 in the first round before falling to Drake 82-66 in the second. Both games were played in Boulder.
- This is Colorado's first postseason appearance of any kind since the 2003-04 team played in the NCAA Tournament.
- CU is 17-4 all-time a home in postseason (12-3 NCAA, 3-1 WNIT, 2-0 AIAW) and has won its last five.
- CU head coach Kathy McConnell-Miller is 2-2 in postseason play, picking up both her career wins in this tournament. McConnell-Miller led Tulsa to back-to-back WNIT appearances in 2004-05.
- Senior guard Susie Powers is the only player on CU's roster with any postseason playing experience. Powers played in two games for Notre Dame during the 2004 NCAA Tournament.
THE BUFFALOES: Colorado is 18-14 overall and finished ninth in final regular season Big 12 standings at 5-11. The Buffaloes, who fell to Iowa State in the first round of the 2008 Big 12 Championship 76-50, earned the league's automatic bid into the WNIT by virtue of being the highest ranked team in the conference that did not qualify for the NCAA Tournament. Colorado is assured of its first winning record since the 2003-04 team went 22-8 and advanced to the program's last postseason appearance. The road traveled by the Buffaloes has been an up and down one this year. Colorado owns an 11-game win streak and a six-game losing streak this season, marking the first time in school history the Buffaloes have endured streaks of six games in both directions during the same season. The Buffaloes surely would like to take advantage of playing on their home court. CU is 14-5 at home in 2007-08 and has won five straight. The Buffaloes will be looking for their 15th home win of the season a feat that has been achieved just three other times in school history. CU was 16-0 in 1981-83, 16-1 in 2001-02 and 15-1 in 1994-95. Colorado's 20th game at home this season is a school record. The Buffs had a 17-game home schedule in 1995-96 (13-4) and 2001-02.
Senior All-America candidate Jackie McFarland leads the Buffaloes at 18.4 points and 8.2 rebounds per game while shooting 57 percent from the field (197-of-348). Doing everything she can to extend her illustrious career, she has upped those numbers over the last four games averaging 24.8 points and 10.5 rebounds per contest. She recorded her 46th career double-double by scoring 32 points and grabbing 12 rebounds in the WNIT third round win over Villanova. She is the first player in school history to score 500 points in three different seasons and needs just 10 points to register the fourth 600 point season in school history. The second-leading scorer in school history, McFarland eclipsed the 1,900 point barrier against Villanova and joins Lisa Van Goor as the only Buffs to record 1,900 points and 1,000 rebounds. The two-time first team All-Big 12 forward once again can be found among the leaders in most league statistical categories ranking first in field-goal percentage, second in minutes, third in scoring and free-throw percentage, fifth in rebounding and 10th in blocks.
Freshman Brittany Spears is making a name for herself as well. She was selected to the Big 12 Conference All-Rookie team and earned league Rookie of the Week honors four times this season, including back-to-back citations March 3 & 7. She recorded her seventh double-double, and third in five games, with a game-high 22 points and 10 rebounds in the WNIT second round against Gonzaga. She is just the second freshman in school history to score 400 points and grab 200 rebounds in a season and just the 10th player to do it overall. She needs nine points and five rebounds to become just the fourth player to accomplish the 450/250 barriers. Lisa Van Goor and McFarland did that three times and Erin Scholz once. An all-around performer, she is the first player in school history to record 50 blocks, 50 assists and 50 steals in one season (and only the second to record 40 in each category). Spears ranks second in scoring (441), third in blocks (50) and rebounds (245) and fifth in steals (54) on CU's all-time freshman charts. Her scoring (13.8 ppg), rebounding (7.7 rpg) and blocks (1.6 bpg) top all freshmen in the Big 12 while she is second in steals (1.7 spg), third in free-throw percentage (.840) and fourth in assists (1.9 apg).
In the backcourt, senior guard Susie Powers averages a team-best 3.3 assists per game. Her 106 assists this season are the most by a Buffs player since Mandy Nightingale had 161 (4.7 apg) during the 2001-02 season. Powers, who had a career-high 10 assists in the win over Pepperdine, is second in the Big 12 with a 1.9 assist-to-turnover ratio (106 assists-55 turnovers) and also ranks 11th in the Big 12 in assists.
Sophomore Bianca Smith, who had a career high six assists against Gonzaga, ranks third on the team in scoring at just a tad under 10 points per game. She leads the team in 3-pointers with 75, which is second on CU's single-season list and four away from Kate Fagan's school single-season mark of 79 set in 2003-04. Her 107 3-pointers, eighth on CU's career-list, are the second most by a CU player in her first two seasons trailing only the 128 Shelley Sheetz made from 1991-93. Smith was named Big 12 Player of the Week on Dec. 10 after averaging 19.0 points and hitting 57 percent from the field in games against No. 22 (AP)/21 (WBCA) Wyoming and No. 20/17 Vanderbilt.
Colorado has several front-court options starting with 6-4 junior center Kara Richards. After coming off the bench the majority of the season, Richards has played strong down the stretch. She averaged 5.4 points and five rebounds over her last seven appearances prior to the Villanova game which she saw limited minutes due to match up issues with the Wildcats. Sophomore Aija Putnina, who started the 27 contests previous to the Gonzaga game, is averaging 7.4 points, 6.7 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per contest. Putnina, who registered her fourth double-double of the season with 14 points and 15 rebounds against Texas, is ninth in blocks and 18th in rebounding on the Big 12 charts. She owns two of CU's top three single-game rebounding performances this season, also nabbing 15 against Northern Colorado on Nov. 28. Her 38 blocks on the season are the fourth most by a sophomore in team history.
Junior Hannah Skildum, who started 16 games earlier in the season, provides a strong defensive presence to Colorado's back court and averages 3.21 points and 1.8 rebounds per game. Whitney Houston has seen extended minutes in the Colorado backcourt. Houston's minutes have increased over the past 13 games and is averaging 5.8 points and 1.9 assists per contest during that span.
Colorado is averaging 66.1 points per game while holding opponents to 61.5 per contest. Overall CU is shooting 42 percent from the field and is the Big 12's top free-throw shooting team at 74.6 percent. CU is outrebounding teams by 3.6 boards per game and ranks second in 3-point field goals (6.8 3mpg) and third in blocked shots (5.4 bpg) on the Big 12 charts.
ABOUT THE HORNED FROGS: Texas Christian is 23-11 overall and finished second in the Mountain West Conference with a record of 13-3. The Horned Frogs have won six of their last seven and 13 of their last 15 overall. TCU is 7-7 on the road this year, but have won seven of eight on its opponents home court after an 0-6 start. The Horned Frogs led the MWC in scoring this season averaging 70.6 points per game and have held opponents to just 59.1 an outing. TCU ranked second in the MWC in turnover margin (+5.2) and steals (10.6 spg)
Senior guard Adrianne Ross, a second team All-MWC selection, leads the Horned Frogs by averaging 13.9 points, 2.9 assists and 2.5 steals per game. Senior forward Lori Butler-Rayford earned third team All-MWC honors for leading TCU in rebounding at 7.6 per contest and averaging 11.3 points per game. Guard Helena Sverrisdottir, the MWC Freshman of the Year, contributes 9.5 points, 5.6 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game.
SERIES RECORDS: This will be the third meeting between Colorado and Texas Christian and the first since 1995. The Buffaloes won both prior meetings with a couple of their better teams in program history. Ranked in the Top 10 for both previous meetings, the No. 9 Buffs defefated TCU 101-56 in Fort Worth on Dec. 7, 1993 and the No. 8 Buffs downed the Horned Frogs 96-48 in Boulder on Nov. 28, 1995. Kathy McConnell-Miller is 2-3 as a head coach against TCU, all while she was at Tulsa and the two teams were rivals in the Western Athletic Conference.
COMMON OPPONENTS: With TCU coming from a regional conference, the Buffs have several common opponents with the Horned Frogs. TCU played three Big 12 teams this season, beating Oklahoma State 97-63 on Dec. 18, defeating Texas Tech 81-74 in the second round of the WNIT in Lubbock and losing to Texas A&M 68-58 at home on Dec. 2. CU lost all three of its games against those teams this year with OSU and A&M at home and Tech on the road. Colorado was 2-0 against Mountain West teams this year, routing Colorado State 82-47 in Fort Collins on Dec. 1 and then upsetting No. 22/21 Wyoming 69-55 in Boulder on Dec. 5. TCU swept its season series with Colorado State and split with Wyoming, with each team holding serve at home.
COMING FROM BEHIND: Colorado's come-back win over Villanova snapped an 18-game losing streak when trailing at the half. The Wildcats held a 35-28 lead at halftime and actually led by 11 (55-44) with 6:01 remaining in the game before the Buffaloes closed the game on a 20-3 run. The Buffs had been 0-13 this season trailing at the half and hadn't won since coming back from a 34-32 deficit to defeat Texas Tech 70-67 in Boulder on Feb. 3, 2007.
PROTECTING THE ROCK: Colorado set a school record for fewest turnovers in a game by committing just three against Villanova. CU had no turnovers in the first half and didin't suffer its first until the 16:47 mark of the second period. In the first 31 games of the season, Colorado had committed at least three turnovers in every single half, first and second. The previous game low was four, done twice (vs. Kansas State in 2003 and Utah in 1989).
A FINE LINE: Colorado senior Jackie McFarland has claimed just about every major free throw record at Colorado, game, single-season and career. McFarland is CU's all-time leader in free throws made (564) and attempted (734) and has set single-season marks this season with 181 free throws made on 233 attempts. She actually holds the top two single-season performances for free throws made as she held the previous record of 161 set as a junior in 2006-07. Against Villanova in the WNIT, she took sole possession of the single game mark by sinking 15 free throws against the Wildcats. She had a share of the previous record of 14, done three times and last by the All-Big 12 forward against Texas Tech during the 2007 Big 12 Championship. McFarland made her 15 free throws on just 16 attempts, also setting a school mark for free throws made with only one miss (.938).
LONG BREAK, NO PROBLEM: Colorado shrugged off any rust from a 13-day break to defeat Gonzaga 82-68 in the first round of the WNIT on March 24. The 13-day layoff tied for the ninth-longest in team history as CU also had 13 day breaks in 1981-82 and 1988-89. CU has endured breaks of 10 days or more 26 times, with most occurring during the holiday break in December. The Buffaloes are 16-10 in those games in which the team returns from a layoff of 10 or more days. It was the seventh time that CU's long break has come during this time of year -- from the end of the regular season to the start of postseason play and the Buffs are 4-3 in their first postseason contest following the break. The 13 days tied for the longest break in team history between the end of the regular season and start of the post season. CU also had 13 days inbetween the 1981-82 regular season finale and the first round of the AIAW Regional playoffs, a 70-61 win over Colorado State.
McFARLAND, SPEARS EARN BIG 12 POSTSEASON HONORS: Senior forward Jackie McFarland was named to the 2008 All-Big 12 Conference first team for the second-straight season while freshman forward Brittany Spears was named to the All-Rookie team and received honorable mention to the All-Big 12 squad by a vote of league coaches.
McFarland gives Colorado its fourth All-Big 12 first team selection, and ironically both are repeat performers. She joins Tera Bjorklund who received back-to-back honors in 2003 and 2004. A 2005-06 All-Big 12 second team pick, she is just the second Buffalo to be cited three different seasons by the current league joining guard Jenny Roulier who was a three-time third team selection (2000-02). Former CU All-American Shelley Sheetz was a three-time All-Big Eight first team pick.
Spears is the first Colorado player to be named to the Big 12 All-Rookie team in the three-year existence of the award. She is the 10th Buffalo to be given All-Big 12 honorable mention and just the second CU freshman to earn any kind of Big 12 postseason honor joining Linda Lappe who was also an honorable mention pick in 1999.
SMITH, SPEARS EARN BIG 12 WEEKLY HONORS: Colorado has been recognized with Big 12 weekly honors five times this season, a school record for the Buffs in the 12 years of the league.
Freshman forward Brittany Spears was named Big 12 Rookie of the week four times, including the final two weeks of the season March 3 & 7. Spears, who also earned honors on Jan. 7 and Feb. 11, is the first CU player to earn four separate Big 12 weekly awards in the same season and the previous best was two. Sophomore guard Bianca Smith was named the Big 12 Women's Basketball Player of the Week on Dec. 10.
In her most recent honor, she had 10 points, five rebounds, three assists, one block and one steal to help CU to a 63-47 win over Missouri in the regular seaon finale. The week before, Spears averaged 15 points, 12.5 rebounds and two steals against Baylor and Nebraska. She scored 16 points and had a career-high 14 rebounds against the Lady Bears and added 14 points, 11 rebounds and four steals against the Huskers.
The week of Feb. 5-11, she averaged 19 points, 6.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 2.0 blocks while hitting 48 percent from the field in games against Nebraska and No. 10 (AP & WBCA) Oklahoma. Her other honor came right before the beginning of the Big 12 season as she helped Colorado register its 10th straight win by scoring 16 points and grabbing seven rebounds in a 65-53 decision over Pepperdine on Jan. 4.
Smith averaged 19 points, two assists and two rebounds off the bench while leading Colorado to wins over No. 22/21 Wyoming and at No. 20/17 Vanderbilt. Against Wyoming, Smith scored 16 points on 5-of-8 from the floor with three assists as Colorado broke a three-game losing streak against the Cowgirls. Smith had a then-career high 22 points on 7-of-14 from the field with three rebounds, one steal and one assist as the Buffs handed the Commodores just their second loss in 23 home games.
SMITH'S RECORD NIGHT FROM -3': Sophomore Bianca Smith tied three different school 3-point field goal records during CU's 67-52 win over Texas on Feb. 16. Smith tied school marks for 3-pointers made in one game with seven, and also 3-pointers made and attempted in one half by hitting 5-of-9 in the first 20 minutes. It's the fifth time a CU player has had seven 3-pointers in one game, done by four players (Kate Fagan did it twice). Veronica Johns-Richardson was the last to do it, against Northern Colorado on Dec. 29, 2004. Smith's five first half 3-pointers matched efforts by Shelley Sheetz at Tennessee on Dec. 20, 1993 and Fagan at Syracuse on Dec. 31, 2002. Her nine first half 3-point attempts matched Sheetz's nine at Tennessee.
Smith, who finished with a career-high 26 points on that night and followed that performance up with five more 3-pointers in the win over Kansas State, continues to move up the ladder on CU's single season and career 3-point charts. Her 75 3-pointers this season are second on CU's single-season list and leaves her four shy of Kate Fagan's single-season school record of 79 set in 2003-04. She has 107 career 3-pointers ranking eighth on CU's all-time list and needs three to pass Alexis Felts (1994-98) for seventh. Smith's 205 3-point attempts this season are the most in team history and her 297 career attempts rank eighth. Her 107 3-pointers are the second most by a Buff in her first two seasons, trailing only Sheetz who had 128 from 1991-93.
AWARDS PILING UP FOR McFARLAND: Jackie McFarland was named to the ESPN The Magazine Academic All-America team for the third straight year, this time as a first team member, announced by the College Sports Information Directors of America on Feb. 26.
McFarland earned second team honors in 2006 and 2007. She is Colorado's third three-time Academic All-American joining Jim Hansen (Football, 1990-92) and Kelly Smith (Cross Country/Track & Field, 1996-98).
Sporting a 3.86 GPA, McFarland is working on a concurrent degree program which will allow her to earn her MBA while completing her undergraduate degree in accounting. McFarland won CU's Scholar-Athlete Award in the spring of 2007 for having the highest GPA in her class. McFarland is a three-year team captain and is actively involved in CU's Student-Athlete Advisory Committee.
SAAC is the governing body for student-athletes at CU which assists in the development and implementation of programs that motivate student-athletes to strive for and be recognized for academic excellence and community involvement.
McFarland is currently one of 10 finalists for the 2008 Lowe's Senior CLASS Award. She was one of 30 original nominees for the Senior CLASS Award that was pared down to 10 finalists by a national media committee.
The award - presented annually to the NCAA Division I Student-Athlete of the Year in eight sports - focuses on the "Four C's" of classroom, character, community and competition. An acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School, the award was launched during the 2001-02 season to honor the attributes of college basketball seniors who remain committed to their university and pursue the many rewards that a senior season and complete college education brings.
McFarland was a 2008 Naismith Award semifinalist and was tabbed as a preseason first team All-Big 12 selection and one of the top five power forwards in the country by ESPN.com.
Fan balloting will be combined with votes from coaches, media and sponsors to determine the recipient of the award. Winners will be announced during the NCAA Men's and Women's Final Four.
BLOCK PARTY: Colorado has blocked a school single-season record 173 shots this year, adding to the total with five against Villanova. The previous record was 162 set in 2000-01. The Buffaloes rank third in the Big 12 and 13th in the nation (through games of March 25) at 5.4 blocks per game. Freshman Brittany Spears leads the way with 50 blocks which are the most by a CU player since Britt Hartshorn had 69 in 2000-01. Sophomore Aija Putnina is second with 39 and senior Jackie McFarland, who is fourth in all-time blocks at CU, is third with 38. It's the first time in team history that the Buffaloes have three players with 30 or more blocks in one season.
CU's high for a game this season was 13 against Dartmouth, the second highest single-game total in team history, trailing only the school record 16 set against Sam Houston in a 99-60 win on Dec. 14, 2000. CU followed up that performance with 12 against Iowa State on Jan. 13. The Buffaloes have three games this season with 10 or more blocks.
3-POINTERS FALLING: Colorado is second in the Big 12 Conference and ranks 21st in the nation (through games of March 25) at 6.8 3-point field goals per game. The Buffaloes have established new single-season team marks for 3-point shooting. CU has 217 3-point field goals made breaking the old mark of 196 set in 2001-02. The Buffs have blown away the old 3-point attempts mark. CU has 683 attempts, shattering the old school record of 501 originally achieved in 2001-02.
The Buffaloes have a school single-season record nine games with 10 or more 3-point field goals as the Buffs added to the total with 10 against Gonzaga. The previous season high was five in the 34-game 2001-02 season. CU had a season-high 14 against Colorado State, its second best single-game total (CU had 16 against Buffalo on Jan. 3, 2004). That came during a string of netting 10 or more 3-pointers in four straight games for the first time. The Buffs had 10 3-pointers against Wyoming and Northern Colorado and 13 against Rice. Against UNC, the Buffs set a school record for 3-point field goal attempts in one half with 21 in the first stanza and finished the game with 36 attempts, just one shy of the school record of 37 set against Buffalo on Jan. 3, 2004.
Individually, it hasn't been one player doing the damage. For the first time in school history, CU has seven different players with 10 or more 3-pointers. Sophomore Bianca Smith leads the team and is closing in on the school season record with 75, Brittany Spears is second with 52 followed by Susie Powers (24), Jackie McFarland (15), Hannah Skildum (13), Whitney Houston (12) and Aija Putnina (12).
NUMBERS FOR McFARLAND: Jackie McFarland notched her ninth double-double of the season, which is tied for the second most in the Big 12 this season, by scoring 32 points and grabbing 12 rebounds against Villanova. She is second on CU's career list for double-doubles with 46, a number that ranks fifth all-time in the Big 12, and is also second in double-digit rebounding games with 48. McFarland is second on CU's all-time list with 100 double figure scoring games and has reached double-digits in 92 of her last 98 games.
McFarland is second on CU's all-time scoring list with 1,910 points, passing the 1,900 plateau against Villanova. She is third in career rebounds with 1,032 and is one of only two players -- joining Lisa Van Goor -- to have 1,900 points and 1,000 rebounds in a career.
McFarland is CU's all-time leader in free-throws made (564) and attempted (734) and she ranks third in field goals made (659), fourth in blocked shots (138) and sixth in minutes (3,845).
She is the only player in team history to score 500 points in three different seasons and needs just 10 points to record CU's fourth 600-point season. McFarland's 181 free throws made this season is a school record, breaking the previous mark of 161 she had in 2006-07. She was 12-of-12 from the line against Missouri which ties for the second-best single game performance in team history.
In terms of career averages, she is on pace to rank second in scoring (16.1 ppg), fifth in rebounding (8.7) and eighth in field-goal percentage (.537).
DEFENSE WINS: Colorado has enjoyed some impressive defensive numbers at times this season.
The Buffaloes have held seven opponents under 50 points in 2007-08; 29-vs. Texas Southern, 38-vs. Southern Utah, 41-vs. Kansas, 43-vs. Dartmouth, 47-at Colorado State, 47-vs. Missouri and 48-at San Francisco. CU had held their opponent under 50 points just three times total in the previous three seasons. It's also the first time the Buffs have held two Big 12 opponents under 50 points in the same season since 2002-03.
CU yielded less than 50 points in three-straight games -- Texas Southern, Dartmouth and Southern Utah -- the first such streak since 2003-04. The Buffs' six sub-50 point defensive performances are the most in one season since the 2002-03 squad registered nine.
Colorado had a historic performance from a defensive perspective against Texas Southern. The Buffaloes held the Lady Tigers to just 29 points, which ties for the fourth-lowest total in team history (equals a 79-29 win over Iowa State on Feb. 19, 1993). It was just the fifth time in CU history the Buffs have held an opponent under 30 points (the ISU game in 1993 being the last). CU allowed just 13 second-half points, tying for the second-lowest second-half total in team history (also done in the ISU game and against Utah State on Jan. 28, 1981). The Buffaloes forced Texas Southern into 32 turnovers, the most since forcing 35 against Detroit Mercy on Nov. 24, 2002.
Colorado's season-long defensive efforts are on pace to rank among some of the best in team history. The Buffs have allowed opponents just 38.2 percent shooting from the field, which would rank third in the CU record book behind the 1980-81 (.358) and 1981-82 (.375) teams. CU has allowed just 61.5 points per contest which would rank ninth on the single-season charts and its +3.6 rebounding margin would be 10th.
CAPTAINS EARN ACADEMIC ALL-BIG 12: Team captains lead not just on the court, but in the classroom too. Colorado's three team captains -- Caley Dow, Jackie McFarland and Susie Powers -- each earned spots on the 2008 Academic All-Big 12 Women's Basketball team the league office announced on Mar. 5. Dow and McFarland were first team honorees, while Powers was selected to the second team.
Dow, a 6-2 forward, earned her second-straight first team honor. She is averaging 2.5 rebounds and just under two points for the Buffaloes while hitting 46 percent from the field. Dow is a Spanish for the Professions major and active in the Student Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC).
Powers, who has started 60 of 62 career games in a CU uniform, is recognized by the Big 12 for the second-straight season. A Spanish and education major, she was a first team Academic All-Big 12 pick in 2007.
McFarland picks up her third Academic All-Big 12 award. She is a three-time Academic All-American.
PLAYING WELL AGAINST RANKED TEAMS: Colorado is 3-4 this season against ranked opponents. The three wins are the most by the Buffaloes since sporting a 3-7 mark against the nation's Top 25 in 2003-04.
Colorado's 73-68 win over No. 15 Kansas State marked the highest ranked team the Buffaloes have beaten since defeating No. 15 Notre Dame, 67-63 on Nov. 15, 2003. It's the highest ranked team the Buffs have beaten as an unranked team since knocking off No. 12 North Carolina 86-67 in the second round of the 2003 NCAA Tournament in Boulder.
Colorado had its biggest week in early December in several years in terms of success against ranked teams.
Colorado's 69-55 win over No. 21/22 Wyoming on Dec. 5 snapped a 23-game Buffs' losing streak to ranked teams. The Buffaloes last win over a ranked opponent had been a 69-59 decision at No. 24 Baylor on Jan. 7, 2004 where CU was ranked No. 14 at the time. The win was Colorado's first against a ranked team while being unranked since the NCAA Tournament win over UNC.
The Buffaloes kept the momentum going four days later with a 62-51 win at No. 20/17 Vanderbilt. The win gave CU's its first two-game win streak against ranked teams since knocking off No. 23 Washington and No. 24 Baylor in 2003-04. It was the first pair of wins over two ranked teams in back-to-back games since the 2002 NCAA Tournament when the Buffs defeated No. 22/24 LSU in the second round and No. 5 Stanford in the Sweet 16. It was Colorado's first win on the road over a ranked opponent since the Baylor game in 2004. It was CU's first win over a ranked opponent as an unranked team since defeating No. 12 Texas in Austin, 60-56, on Feb. 26, 1997.
Colorado's losses against the Top 25 this year have been competitive, if not downright close calls. No. 10/10 Oklahoma used a strong second half to pull away 82-66 on Feb. 9 in Norman as did No. 21/18 Oklahoma State in an 81-72 decision on Feb. 2 in Boulder and No. 8/8 Baylor in a 76-62 decision in Waco on Feb. 27. CU led No. 19/16 Texas A&M for most the game before a late comeback allowed the Aggies to leave Boulder with a 72-68 decision on Jan. 16.
RANKING OF OUR OWN: Colorado did not receive votes in either the AP or WBCA Top 25 polls released this week. CU had at least received votes for six-straight weeks from Dec. 10 through Jan. 22. The Buffaloes were ranked in four straight AP polls, peaking at No. 23 on Jan. 1 and Jan. 8. The Buffaloes debuted in the 2007 AP poll at No. 25 on Dec. 24 for their first national ranking since finishing No. 17 (AP)/No. 24 (WBCA) in the final 2003-04 polls. Colorado has a rich tradition in the AP poll, making 158 appearances since 1980. The Buffs were ranked in 75 straight polls from Mar. 15, 1992 to Dec. 9, 1996 and 30 straight from Jan. 22, 2001 to Mar. 22, 2002.
With Colorado's early-season AP ranking, Buffs head coach Kathy McConnell-Miller became the 22nd person in NCAA Division I women's history to play for and coach an AP ranked team. McConnell-Miller was a four-year letterwinner at Virginia (1986-90) where she played in four NCAA Tournaments with the Cavaliers including a pair of Sweet 16 appearances and the 1988 Elite Eight.
DEFENSE IN THE KANSAS GAME: Colorado's 59-41 win over Kansas was won, in large part thanks to its defense. The 41 points allowed to the Jayhawks tied for the third lowest against a Big 12 opponent during the regular season. Three of the four lowest totals have come against the Jayhawks:
35 -- Colorado 70, at Kansas 35, Jan. 16, 2002
40 -- Colorado 69, at Texas A&M 40, Feb. 8, 1997
41 -- at Colorado 59, Kansas 41, Jan. 22, 2008
41 -- at Colorado 80, Kansas 41, Jan. 29, 2002
The 18-point margin of victory was also the highest by a Kathy McConnell-Miller led team in a Big 12 game, beating the previous margin of 14 against Iowa State on Jan. 10, 2007 (81-67).
YOUTH SERVED: Colorado's freshman class was key in the Buffaloes win over Kansas combining for 31 points, the most by a freshman class since the trio of Whitney Houston (25), Candace Rucker (6) and Aija Putnina (3) combined for 34 in a 70-68 overtime loss at Kansas last season. Brittany Spears led the way with 14 points while Courtney Dunn pitched in a career-high nine points and Britney Blythe had eight off the bench.
DOUBLE OT: Colorado went double-overtime for just the fifth time in school history and the first time at the Coors Events Center with its 84-77 loss to Iowa State on Jan. 13. It was the first double-overtme for CU since the Buffaloes defeated the Cyclones 68-66 at Iowa State on Jan. 18, 1997, and the Buffs fell to 16-20 all-time in overtime and 2-3 in double-overtime. Seniors Jackie McFarland and Susie Powers each played 48 minutes in the game, tying a school record initially set by Tracy Tripp against Oklahoma State on March 6, 1989.
BIG 12 OPENERS: Colorado evened its record in Big 12 Conference openers at 6-6 by defeating Missouri 70-58 on Jan. 9. It was Colorado's first season-opening Big 12 win on the road since the Buffs beat Baylor to begin the 2004 league slate. The 12-point margin was also the Buffs highest in a conference road opener since a 67-53 win at Missouri to open the 1993 Big Eight schedule. Colorado, now 20-14 in all-time conference openers, are 16-9 in home league openers since 1983 and 6-5 in the Big 12 era.
OPENING NIGHT STAR: Colorado freshman Brittany Spears joined some elite company in her Big 12 debut. Her 24 points were the second-most in team history for a freshman in her first league game. Only CU Athletic Hall of Fame member and 1995 All-American Shelley Sheetz had more points in a conference debut as she scored 25 during a 75-69 loss at Nebraska on Jan. 15, 1992. Her seven rebounds tie current teammate Jackie McFarland for the most by a freshman in a road opener since 1994. McFarland had seven in an 84-62 setback at Nebraska on Jan. 5, 2005.
NUMBERS ON 11 STRAIGHT: Colorado saw its 11-game win streak end against Iowa State, but the run was the seventh longest in team history and the most consecutive victories since the 1994-95 team matched a CU All-Sports record 25 straight wins (shared with the 1939-41 baseball team). Here are the Buffs' all-time best win streaks:
Wins Season Record Noteable
1. 25 1994-95 30-3 NCAA Elite Eight, 14-0 in Big Eight
2. 20 1988-89 27-4 NCAA 1st Round, 14-0 in Big Eight
3. 15 1992-93 27-4 NCAA Elite Eight, 15-0 season start
4. 14 1991-92 22-9 NCAA 1st Rd, Big Eight Tourney Champs
5. 12 1981-82 28-8 AIAW National 1st Round
12 1980-81 28-5 First of two 9-plus winning streaks in -81
7. 11 2007-08 -- First 11-plus streak since 1994-95
8. 9 2003-04 22-8 NCAA 1st Round
9 1993-94 27-5 NCAA Sweet 16
9 1992-93 27-4 NCAA Elite Eight, Big Eight Champs
9 1980-81 28-5 First AIAW National Appearance
9 1978-79 22-9 3rd place in AIAW Regional
PERFECT DECEMBER: Colorado registered a perfect 7-0 record for the month of December for the first time since 2003-04, and for just the sixth time in team history. The Buffaloes matched the 1980-81 and 1981-82 teams which were both 7-0 in December. The 1992-93 team had a program best December mark of 9-0, while the 2002-03 squad was 6-0 and 5-0 in 2003-04. CU is 118-54 (.686) all-time in the month of December.
CAPTAINS NAMED: Seniors Jackie McFarland and Susie Powers and junior Caley Dow will serve as team captains for the 2007-08 season. McFarland is a captain for a third straight season, Powers is in her second year as captain and Dow is a captain for the first time. CU team captains are voted on by players prior to the first regular season contest each year.
HOME AT THE CECC: Colorado is traditionally tough at home with a 321-97 all-time record at the Coors Events/Conference Center (.768). The Buffaloes have won 10 or more games in a season at the CECC in 20 of the previous 30 years including this season, after notching win No. 10 against Texas on Feb. 16. The Buffaloes have enjoyed five undefeated seasons (1980-83, 1992-94) at the CECC.
ON THE ROAD: Colorado is 4-8 on the road this season and had won three straight for the first time since 2003-04 before falling at Kansas State on Jan. 19. The four wins doubles the team road win total from the previous two seasons combined (1-10 in 2006-07 and 1-9 in 2004-05). CU's 82-47 win over Colorado State was significant on several fronts. The 35-point margin was the Buffs' highest on the road since a 70-35 win over Kansas on Jan. 16, 2002 and it was also their largest win over Colorado State (regardless of venue) since a 112-48 win on Nov. 16, 1979. The 82 points were the most CU has scored on an opponents home court since the Buffs' last trip to Moby Arena, an 86-83 loss to the Rams on Nov. 30, 2005. Colorado broke Vanderbilt's 10-game home winning streak and handed the Commodores just their second loss in 23 home games, the other coming last season against eventual national champion Tennessee.