Strong Start Pushes Buffs To 76-63 Victory Over Billikens
BOULDER - Four Colorado Buffaloes scored in double digits to help the Buffs to a 76-63 victory over the Saint Louis Billikens at the Coors Events/Conference Center on Monday night in the first ever meeting of the two schools.
Colorado's starting line-up tallied 67 of the team's 76 points, led by Brittany Spears, who had 21 points on 8-of-10 shooting from the floor, 3-of-3 from 3-point range, and 2-of-2 from the free throw line. Bianca Smith finished the game with 16 points including 6-of-6 on free throw attempts. Kara Richards added 15 and Alyssa Fressle contributed 11 of her own.
"From a preparation standpoint, this lineup gets us off to a good start offensively and defends, which is exciting," CU coach Kathy McConnell-Miller said.
The Buffaloes held a solid lead over the Billikens all game, but it was definitely a tale of two halves for CU, who looked a like a different team in the second half.
Colorado (5-4) pulled away from Saint Louis (4-8) midway through the first half after a 10-0 run over 2:20. Spears and Smith hit back-to-back 3-pointers to get things going. Fressle added to the Buffs' momentum when she stole the ball from the Billikens and took it down the court for a fast break layup. Spears put up another layup in the paint and the Buffs found themselves ahead 22-13 at the 8:07 mark.
Colorado finished out the first half strong, outscoring Saint Louis 40-23 at half. The Buffs shot 61.9 percent from the 2-point range, 57.1 percent from outside the arc, and 90.9 percent from the free throw line. They held Saint Louis to under 40 percent on shooting. The team forced 12 Saint Louis turnovers and recorded six steals, scoring 11 points off Billiken giveaways.
The Buffaloes gained their biggest lead-26 points (53-27)-seven minutes and six seconds into the second half, but were outscored by the Billikens 18-6 over the next 5:11. The Buffs' shooting in the second half was much lower than in the first: 43.5 percent from the 2-point range and only 20 percent from behind the arc.
"I don't like that we gave up 40 points in the second half," McConnell-Miller said, "which I attribute to being unfocused at times. We didn't exercise the mental toughness this team has."
Nonetheless, Colorado finished the game shooting above .500 for both field goals (23-of-44) and free throws (25-of-29) for the second time this season. Tonight's shooting percentages were both the second highest totals of the season, the highest coming against the Colorado State Rams on November 19.
Despite the Billikens outshooting the Buffs 40-36 in the second half, Colorado never held less than an 11-point lead in the half. Bianca Smith tallied 11 of her 16 points in the second half to help the Buffs hold their steady lead.
Colorado got into foul trouble in the second half as both Richards and Britney Blythe fouled out within the last four minutes of the game. But the team pushed through and held onto their win to boost their record to 1-0 all-time against Saint Louis.
Theresa Lisch led the Billikens with 28 points, including 9-for-9 free throws.
After a week off to enjoy the holidays, the Buffaloes will host Idaho State for their last game in 2008 on Tuesday December 30 at 7 p.m. at the Coors Events Center.