Buffs Pull Away From UMKC
BOULDER – Bianca Smith scored 21 points, nailing six 3-pointers to lead Colorado to a 71-49 win over UMKC Saturday night at the Coors Events/Conference Center.
Smith, who had been hitting just 24.5 percent from 3-point range through seven games (12-of-49) hit her first four attempts and finished the night 6-of-8 from long range, the most accurate night from downtown in her career.
"That's hard work paying off," Smith said. "I've been in the gym shooting night in and night out."
Colorado (4-4) sprinted out to a 22-6 lead thanks to Smith's four first half 3-pointers. On the defensive end, the Buffaloes forced 12 UMKC turnovers in the first seven minutes of the game accounting for 12 points.
But after Smith's fourth 3-pointer at the 10:09 mark, the Buffaloes went cold for the rest of the half. CU missed its next nine shots, sinking only two free throws until Brittany Spears connected on a 3-pointer with 27 seconds remaining before halftime.
Once Colorado's shots stopped falling, UMKC (4-7) was able to climb back into the game. Chazny Morris and Heather Davis hit back-to-back 3-pointers to spark a 17-1 UMKC run during CU's shooting slump and a Davis layup with 42 seconds left tied the game at 24.
Spears' 3-pointer allowed the Buffaloes to take a 27-26 lead at halftime, but UMKC came right back in the second and led 33-29 with 16:50 remaining. Needing a spark, Smith hit her fifth 3-pointer and after a Spears steal, Kara Richards connected on a layup as CU retook the lead at 34-33.
After a Morris 3-point play briefly put UMKC back on top, the Buffaloes took over. Spears scored the next four points to give CU the lead for good as the Buffaloes outscored the Kangaroos 37-13 over the final 15:21 of the contest.
With Smith providing the first half fireworks, Spears and Richards stepped up to put the game away in the second half. Richards, who had three fouls in the first eight minutes of the game, scored 10 of her 15 points and grabbed six of her eight rebounds in the second period. Spears scored 12 of her 19 points in the second 20 minutes.
"It was a tale of two halves," CU head coach Kathy McConnell-Miller said. "The difference in the game was Kara being on the floor in the second half. We need to emphasize her being on the floor for us to be successful."
Spears added seven rebounds, three assists and three steals to her totals. Sophomore point guard Britney Blythe, making her first career start, added seven points and dished out a career-best five assists with no turnovers.
Morris led UMKC with a game-high 23 points and 10 rebounds.
Colorado will return to action on Monday, Dec. 22, by hosting Saint Louis University at 7 p.m. at the Coors Events Center.