Buffs Open With 86-59 Win Over UCF
BOULDER - Brittany Spears had a game-high 23 points to lead Colorado to an 86-59 win over UCF Sunday afternoon at the Coors Events Center in the season opener for both teams.
Spears, just one off her career high of 24 points, set last season against Missouri, was 9-of-17 from the field with three 3-pointers and added eight rebounds and five steals.
She scored 15 of CU's first 21 points as the Buffaloes built a 21-11 lead in the first 8:09 of the game. Spears totaled 18 points in the first half, a career-high for one period, as Colorado led 41-28 after the first 20 minutes.
The Buffaloes pressured UCF into 31 turnovers and held the Knights to just 34 percent from the field.
"It felt nice to be out there playing someone other than the (male) practice players," Spears said.
Colorado struggled from the free-throw line, making just 16 of 26 attempts and was outrebounded 52-35, but it was an overall good start for a team debuting a new starting back court. True freshman guard Alyssa Fressle fought off two early fouls to finish with 10 points, three rebounds and four steals. Sophomore point guard Kelly Jo Mullaney, making her official CU debut, had two points, three rebounds and one assist, but overall handled the UCF pressure well.
"I thought I could have done a little better," Fressle said. "I think (the early fouls) may have shaken me up a little, but that's just something to learn from."
Colorado's front court, the topic of much discussion during the off season, had a productive afternoon. Fifth-year senior center Kara Richards had 13 points on 5-of-6 from the field with seven rebounds and two blocked shots. Freshman Julie Seabrook came off the bench to score five points and four rebounds while Courtney Dunn had six points on a pair of 3-pointers.
"The stat line on Kara is what we see every day in practice," CU head coach Kathy McConnell-Miller said. "She's got the heart of a lion and the work ethic of a Division I athlete. For us to be able to go forward and continue to do what we want to do, Kara's a huge key to that. Her consistency is going to be a major factor."
The Buffaloes fell into a little foul trouble in the second half with Richards picking up her fourth foul with 16:27 remaining and Spears notching her fourth with 13:56 left, but the Buffaloes didn't miss a beat.
Junior guard Bianca Smith took over from that point as the Buffaloes pulled away and led by as much as 33 late in the game. Smith had 14 of her 16 points in the second half, tied a personal best with six rebounds and added two assists and two steals. Senior guard/forward Hannah Skildum added nine points, a game-high five assists, three rebounds and two blocks.
"It was a tough opening game," McConnell-Miller said. "When you think about the time we had to prepare from October to November 16, just their (UCF) style of play was difficult to prepare for. I was proud of our girls."
Emma Cannon led UCF with 19 points and 17 rebounds. Aisha Patrick also logged a double-double for the Knights finishing with 12 points and 10 rebounds.
Colorado will return to action on Wednesday, Nov. 19, by hosting Colorado State at the Coors Events Center at 7 p.m. The game will be televised live by FSN Rocky Mountain.