Buffs Fall to Marquette in WNIT Semis
BOULDER—The Coors Events Center crowd wildly cheered on the Buffs until the final seconds, but they weren't treated to a third-straight comeback victory in the Women's NIT as Marquette opened a big first-half lead and handed Colorado an 86-72 loss Thursday night in Boulder.
Colorado fell behind early as the Golden Eagles used runs of 13-0 and 9-0 in the first half to build a 45-20 lead with just under three minutes left. Marquette's three starting guards, Angel Robinson, Janelle Harris and Krystal Ellis combined for 57 points in the game, 20 points more than their cumulative season averages.
"I think it was a great run," head coach Kathy McConnell-Miller said of her team. "I'm very proud of them, just their resilience and their ability to bounce back. I'm proud of the way they competed in the postseason."
CU was able to weather an early 11-2 setback against Villanova in its second game of the tournament and a 20-4 disadvantage against TCU in the quarterfinals, but the Buffs dug too deep of a hole this time against Marquette.
"We knew that Colorado started slowly, but we know that they're the 'Comeback Kids,'" said Marquette head coach Terri Mitchell said. "So we needed to push the tempo."
And push the temp they did, as the Golden Eagles were able to cash in on 17 points off 14 Colorado turnovers and out-rebounded the Buffs 26-10, including 11-3 on the offensive glass—all in the first half. At the break, CU found itself down 45-25, giving up the most first-half points of the season.
The Buffs started the second half on a 19-11 run—with junior center Kara Richards contributing nine points on 4-of-5 shooting—and pulled within 56-44 after freshman forward Brittany Spears connected on a three-pointer. But that was the closest the Buffs would get as they would go nearly six minutes without another field goal while the Golden Eagles restored their advantage with a 14-2 run of their own.
The Buffs had another run in them with less than 10 minutes left, as sophomore guard Whitney Houston scored 10 points in a three-minute span to pull CU within 75-61.
Marquette capitalized on a number of easy baskets throughout the game, outscoring Colorado 40-20 in the paint. Ellis led the Golden Eagles with 27 points on 9-of-19 shooting, a game after scoring a career-high 40 points in a WNIT quarterfinal win over Kentucky.
Jackie McFarland led the Buffs with 17 points on the night, giving her 100 total points in CU's four WNIT games. She cemented herself in second place on CU's all-time scoring list with 1,957 career points, behind only Lisa Van Goor (2,067).
"I couldn't imagine a better way of going out other than cutting down the nets in the finals," McFarland said. "The last three games with the fan support and the community coming around—our team has been amazing. It's been awhile since I've had this much fun playing basketball."
Senior guard Susie Powers also played her last game for the Buffs, chipping in three assists and a steal in 16 minutes of play.
"Jackie McFarland and Susie Powers will be missed dearly," McConnell-Miller said. "They've brought so much to this program. The Coors Events Center door will always be open to them and this will always be their team."