Buffs Fall To Baylor In Big 12 Opener
BOULDER- Colorado sophomore Britney Blythe netted a career-high 12 points off of a career-best four 3-pointers, but it was not enough to lift the Buffaloes as they fell to No. 6 (AP)/5 (WBCA) ranked Baylor, 63-50, at the Coors Events/Conference Center Saturday afternoon.
The game was much closer than the final score read as the Buffs (8-5, 0-1 Big 12) trailed the Lady Bears (13-1, 1-0 Big 12) by only two points (50-48) with 7 minutes, 11 seconds remaining in both teams' first conference game of the season. Up until that point, the score had been tied eight times and the lead had changed six times.
But the Lady Bears pulled away in the last 6:52 of the game, going on a 13-2 run.
Right from the get-go, the game would prove to be very intense, and the speed of play quick, for both teams. In the first 4:16 of the game, the Buffs jumped ahead to a 10-6 lead off back-to-back jumpers by junior Bianca Smith and sophomore Brittany Spears, followed by Blythe's first trey of the night and another 3-pointer from Spears.
Colorado went into halftime trailing Baylor 35-28, but came out on fire after the half as they went on a 14-1 run over 5:57 to open the second half. Spears started this run with a layup 21 seconds into the half. That's when Blythe went into action nailing three consecutive 3-pointers and earning a standing ovation from the announced crowd of 3,273. Up until today's game, Blythe was only 5-for-33 from behind the arc in her career and 1-for-12 on the season. But she changed those numbers today as she went 4-for-6 from 3-point range, totals also serving as career highs for both 3-point shots and overall from the floor.
Smith followed Blythe's impressive performance with a 3-pointer of her own to give the Buffaloes their biggest lead of the game (42-37), but that's when the tables turned and Baylor followed solid Colorado play with a 12-2 run of their own over the next 3:32. This run brought Baylor ahead 49-44 with less than 10 minutes remaining in the game and the Lady Bears would hold onto this lead until the final buzzer sounded.
The Buffaloes recorded six steals, two blocks, and forced 15 Baylor turnovers on the night, but their strong effort was not enough to stop the explosiveness down low of the Lady Bears who, led by junior Danielle Wilson (16 points), outscored CU 44-14 in the paint, including 18 second chance points and 14 points off fast breaks.
"Baylor's best offense is on second chance opportunities. A lot of their looks are not on what they ran, but on broken plays and missed shots," said CU head coach Kathy McConnell-Miller. "We're not a front court team and that's where (Baylor) gets their points—in the paint."
Richards finished with a career-high and team season-high 15 rebounds and added nine points. Spears had a team-high 14 points and had six rebounds and two steals. Fressle had eight points, four rebounds and two assists.
Despite the outcome of the game, neither McConnell-Miller nor her players were upset with the team's effort. And they will look for the mental toughness the team showed against Baylor to carry them into the next stretch of games as they take on three more Big 12 South teams, all of which are currently ranked both in the Associated Press and WBCA Coaches polls.
CU will travel to take on the Oklahoma State Cowgirls on Wednesday Jan. 14 at 6 p.m. in Stillwater, Okla. The Cowgirls (11-3, 0-1 Big 12) are currently ranked No. 21 (AP/WBCA), but suffered their first conference loss to No. 25 Iowa State on Saturday.