Late Run Lifts Oklahoma Over Colorado
BOULDER- Colorado sank a season-high 10 buckets from behind the 3-point arc, but it wasn't enough to stop the powerhouse No. 3 (AP)/2 (WBCA) ranked Oklahoma Sooners as the Buffaloes dropped their fourth straight Big 12 Conference game, 72-58, at the Coors Events/Conference Center Wednesday night.
With the loss, Colorado falls to 8-8, 0-4 in the Big 12 while Oklahoma improves to 15-2 and remains atop the league standings undefeated at 4-0.
This marks the Buffaloes' first ever 0-4 start to conference play. Oklahoma was the fourth straight ranked Big 12 Southern Division opponent that Colorado has faced to open its league schedule.
"We knew coming in what a tough stretch this was going to be," said CU head coach Kathy McConnell-Miller. "A lot of teams at this point could have fallen apart and lost their confidence, but there isn't a player on this team that is headed in that direction. We need to get better as a team as a result of these four games."
Despite the final outcome, Colorado held their own against Oklahoma in the first half thanks to consistent 3-point shooting (5-for-8, 62.5 percent) and solid defensive play, including six combined steals from Alyssa Fressle and Brittany Spears. The Buffs defense forced 17 Oklahoma turnovers, 11 of which came in the first half.
Colorado was neck-in-neck with the Sooners throughout the first half. Bianca Smith started the Buffaloes off with back-to-back 3-pointers to put her team up 6-2 just 2 minutes, 53 seconds into the game. CU achieved its biggest lead of the game—7 points (12-5)—after Fressle sank a jumper at the 14:07 mark, but the Sooners followed with a 10-0 run in less than two minutes, edging ahead of the Buffs 17-13 with 9:04 left in the half.
The Buffaloes hit the locker room at halftime tied with the Sooners 28-28 after Spears hit a trey with 38 seconds remaining on the clock.
"At halftime we really felt like we could play with this team," said Spears. "We had a confidence that we could win this game."
But being tied with Colorado was not good enough for the Sooners; so they stepped up at the beginning of the second half to pull away from the Buffs.
Oklahoma stormed to their biggest lead of the game, a 16-point margin (51-35) 7:55 into the second half after a 20-2 run over 5:37.
CU battled back, outscoring OU by six points over the next 3:33, to put themselves within 10 points with just over eight minutes remaining. But the Buffaloes just could not catch the Sooners as they held on to a double-digit lead throughout the rest of the game.
Spears led the Buffaloes with 21 points, including four 3-pointers, tying a career high, six rebounds and four steals. Smith added 15 points on 5-for-8 shooting behind the arc. Fressle tallied 12 points, four steals, and a block.
Four Oklahoma players scored in double digits. All-American Courtney Paris led her team with 19 points, 14 rebounds, and four blocks. Freshman Whitney Hand contributed 13 points, while Danielle Robinson and Ashley Paris added 10 points of their own.
Colorado hits the road for its next game at Missouri, scheduled for Saturday Jan. 24 at 5:30 p.m. MST. The Buffs will look to pick up their first conference win of the season as they travel to Columbia to face the 10-7 (1-3 Big 12) Tigers. The Tigers also suffered a loss Wednesday night at the hands of the No. 22 ranked Iowa State.