Colorado Wins Paradise Classic
HONOLULU, Hawaii - Senior Kara Richards didn't lead the Paradise Classic in scoring, assists or even rebounds, but there is little doubt the difference in the Buffaloes with the fifth-year captain in the lineup.
Richards scored all 12 of her points and recorded all seven of her rebounds in the second half to lift Colorado to a 67-55 win over host Hawaii in the final game of the 2008 Paradise Classic at the Stan Sheriff Center.
Bianca Smith had a season-high 23 points and seven rebounds and Brittany Spears added 14 points and six rebounds, but it was Richards' presence that sparked a 25-6 CU second-half run that gave Colorado the tournament title, a fifth-straight win and its first win on an opponent's home court in eight tries.
Colorado opened up an early 22-7 lead thanks to the sharp shooting of Smith. She made her first five shots from the field, including four 3-pointers, scoring 15 points during that stretch.
Soon after Richards picked up her second foul with 11:12 remaining in the first half, the Rainbow Wahine began to claw their way back. Hawaii took advantage of 11 first half Colorado fouls by hitting 8-of-10 free throw attempts. Hawaii closed the gap to 33-29 with 1:31 left in the half on back-to-back 3-point field goals by Catherine Cho and Leilani Galdones.
Colorado extended its lead to seven at the half, 36-29, but Hawaii scored the first seven points of the second period, tying the game at 36 on Galdones' second 3-pointer of the game. With her team needing a spark, it was time for Richards to shine.
Richards halted the Wahine run, and put CU up for good, with a put back of a Kelly Jo Mullaney miss. She scored on the next possession as well, and following a Cho layup on the other end, Richards grabbed an offensive rebound that Spears converted into a 3-pointer to give Colorado a 43-38 lead.
Cho, who finished with a team-high 15 points for Hawaii (3-10), nailed one of her three 3-pointers to cut the CU lead to 45-41, but Richards again responded by scoring eight of CU's next 10 points during a 16-1 run capped off by a pair of Smith 3-pointers to give CU its largest lead at 61-42.
Smith, who joined Spears and Richards on the All-Tournament team, had a career best eight field goals and tied a season high with six 3-pointers, on just seven attempts. Spears, who averaged 16 points and seven rebounds over the two games was named MVP.
"I'm proud of those players for that recognition, but the last two days was certainly a team effort," CU head coach Kathy McConnell-Miller said. "We enjoyed being here in Hawaii, enjoyed bonding, but the focus was coming in here and winning two games."
Freshman guard Alyssa Fressle tied a career-high by dishing out eight assists to go along with five points and two rebounds. Senior Hannah Skildum had six points and two rebounds off the bench.
Colorado opens the Big 12 Conference portion of its schedule by hosting No. 7 Baylor on Saturday, Jan. 10, at 4 p.m. MST at the Coors Events/Conference Center. The game will be televised live by FSN Rocky Mountain.