Spears' 36 Points Not Enough Against UMass
BOULDER – Colorado sophomore Brittany Spears scored a career-high and Coors Classic record 36 points, but UMass rallied from a late eight-point deficit to hand the Buffaloes a 70-62 loss in the first round of the 22nd Annual Coors Classic, Friday night at the Coors Events/Conference Center.
The loss puts Colorado (2-2) in Saturday's consolation game against Drexel (2-3) at 5 p.m. MST. Minnesota (5-1) defeated Drexel 74-50 in Friday's early game and will play UMass (3-2) in the championship game at 7:30 p.m. MST.
Spears' 36 points tied for the third best total in team history, matching Jasmina Ilic's total against Nebraska on Jan. 4, 2006, and just two off the school record of 38 held by current Director of Operations Tracy Tripp against Oklahoma State on Feb. 4, 1987 and Susan Horner against Weber State on Mar. 10, 1979.
Spears also set career-highs in field goals made (12) and attempted (25) and free throws made (9) and attempted (11). Her 25 field goal attempts tied a Coors Classic record.
Despite Spears' record night, Colorado struggled as whole from the field. The Buffaloes shot just 36 percent overall (22-of-61) and just 25 percent from 3-point range (7-of-28). UMass' zone defense caused some trouble for CU and led to rushed shots.
"When teams sit in zone, we have four shooters on the floor," CU head coach Kathy McConnell-Miller said. "We took shots too fast, and took dumb shots. UMass took advantage. We weren't taxing them defensively and didn't play on both ends of the floor."
Colorado trailed for nearly all of the first 27 minutes of the game, but took its first lead since the opening seconds at 50-48 on an Alyssa Fressle 3-point field goal that capped a 10-2 CU run with 13:07 remaining in the game.
Tied at 52 with 9:21 remaining, Colorado looked like it was beginning to pull away as the Buffs scored eight straight on a Spears layup and back-to-back 3-pointers by Spears and Bianca Smith.
UMass made the final and most important push though, outscoring Colorado 18-2 over the final 6:57 of the game. CU missed 7-of-8 down the stretch, gaining only a Spears layup which came with just 42 seconds remaining to end a string of 15 straight points by the Minutewomen.
"I wish we could play that game over again," Spears said. "We need to play better defense. We need more ball pressure and to use more time on offense. We are just rushing shots. We have to believe in each other."
UMass forward Teya Wright recorded a double-double with 24 points and 13 rebounds. Guards Kim Benton and Stefanie Gerardot each scored 12 points and were a combined 7-of-15 from 3-point range. The Minutewomen made 11 3-pointers, hitting 39 percent from downtown.
Fressle finished with 11 points, six rebounds and four steals. Smith had nine points and six rebounds. Spears added nine rebounds and four assists to her strong statline
"We are in a similar position to where we were a year ago," McConnell-Miller said. "The sign of a really good team is one that is able to put the last possession, the last game behind them. That's what we have to do."
Minnesota 74, Drexel 50
Kay Silva scored 17 points off the bench as Minnesota pulled away from Dragons in the second half in the first game of the Coors Classic.
The Golden Gophers led by just five at halftime (32-27), but broke the game open with a 21-5 run in the first 10 minutes of the second half.
Ashley Ellis-Milan had 13 points and 10 rebounds for Minnesota, which has won five straight since its season-opening loss to Stanford. Colorado native Emily Fox had 13 points, three rebounds and two assists.
Drexel was led by Gabriela Marginean who had 15 points and nine rebounds.