Buffs Sink TCU in Overtime
BOULDER—Sophomore forward Aija Putnina scored a career-high 22 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, and senior forward Jackie McFarland added 30 of her own, as the University of Colorado women's basketball team overcame a seemingly insurmountable deficit for the second straight game, beating the Texas Christian Horned Frogs 96-90 in overtime Sunday afternoon in Boulder.
The win sends the Buffs to the semifinals of the 2008 Women's National Invitation Tournament where they will face Marquette University on Wednesday, April 2, at 7:00 p.m. at the Coors Events Center. Tickets for Wednesday's game are on sale online here or by calling 303-49BUFFS.
The game unfolded in dramatic fashion, much like CU's third round game against Villanova in which the Buffs overcame a double-digit deficit to win 64-58.
"I didn't think we could top Thursday night's game," head coach Kathy McConnell-Miller said. "I would say this one ranks right up there as far as an exciting comeback."
The Horned Frogs took an early 8-0 lead, with field goals by four different players before freshman forward Brittany Spears scored on a lay up 2:29 into the game. TCU would push its early lead to 20-4 behind 10 points from guard Moneka Knight in the first 7:22 of the game. Knight finished with 13 points, one shy of her career high.
Putnina pulled the Buffs within striking distance with seven straight points midway through the half. McFarland, who had scored 10 of the Buffs' first 12 points in Thursday's win over Villanova, did not score until 10:36 into the game; however she scored 11 of the Buffs' next 14 points, starting an 11-0 run for the Buffs to pull CU within 35-32 with 3:51 remaining in the half.
TCU enjoyed a 44-38 advantage at the break and would stretch its lead to 54-44 early in the second half. The Buffs cut the deficit to three points or less on four separate occasions before taking their first lead of the game on a three-pointer by Putnina with 4:31 remaining. Putnina tied a career high with four three-pointers, converting on 4-of-7 on the afternoon.
"That was an amazing game," said Putnina, who was recruited by TCU as a junior in high school. "I had open shots and knocked them down."
Sophomore guard Whitney Houston, who sang the national anthem before the game, banked in a 24-foot three-pointer as the shot clock expired with 1:45 remaining, putting the Buffs up 74-72 and igniting the Coors Events Center crowd. She appeared to have scored the winning basket on a running lay up with less than five seconds left, but TCU guard Helen Roden put back a desperation shot by Knight as the regulation horn sounded, tying the game at 72-72 sending the contest to overtime.
The overtime session was dominated by Colorado from the onset, as the Buffs went on a 12-3 run to start the extra session. The Horned Frogs would get no closer than the final six-point deficit the rest of the way.
"I think when we finally got to that overtime I just kept thinking that we've been here before and we've been competing in a conference that prepared us for tonight," McConnell-Miller said. "Everyone knows how important postseason is and everyone knows how your performance in the postseason carries over into the future."
TCU was led by guard Adrianne Ross, who scored a team-high 26 points and grabbed eight rebounds. She was held to just eight points in the last 19 minutes, however, including overtime.
Spears chipped in 15 points and eight rebounds for the Buffs and Houston scored 13 points on 5-of-9 shooting.
"I can't stop smiling," an elated McFarland said after the game. "I feel there is a lot of pressure taken off because you go as far as you can. At the same time, it's winding down. Seeming how the team has grown around me—Whitney has become a great point guard the second half of the season and Aija stepped up big—it seems every night someone steps up big. It's just fun to watch when I'm on the floor."