Buffaloes Pick Up First Big 12 Win
COLUMBIA, Mo. – Colorado junior Bianca Smith had a season-high 25 points and tied a school record with seven 3-pointers to lead the Buffaloes to a 61-56 win over Missouri in a Big 12 Conference contest Saturday night at Mizzou Arena.
Smith hit 7-of-11 from downtown, tying a single-game record that has been achieved a total of six times by four players. Smith, who also hit seven 3-pointers in a win against Texas last year, had five rebounds, four assists and hit a pair of free throws with 7 seconds remaining to ice the game as the Buffaloes (9-8, 1-4 Big 12) claimed their first Big 12 win of the year.
Senior Kara Richards had 15 points on 6-of-8 from the field to go along with nine rebounds. Sophomore Brittany Spears recorded 11 points and a game-high 13 rebounds for her fifth double-double of the season.
Colorado led by as much as 11 in the second half, but the Tigers (10-8, 1-4) clawed their way back on the shoulders of RaeShara Brown and Jessra Johnson. Brown, who had a team high 17 points, hit a free throw with 6:39 left to put Missouri back to within four at 54-50.
After nearly four minutes of scoreless action, which included a combined nine missed field goals and three turnovers by both teams, Smith tied the record with 3-pointer No. 7 to give CU a 57-50 lead with 2:58 on the clock.
Johnson, who ended with 14 points and six rebounds, scored twice for Missouri in the final minutes, including a short jumper which cut the lead to 59-54 with 1:24 left. Richards corralled an Alyssa Fressle missed shot and was fouled by Shakara Jones on her way back up, but she missed both free throws. Brown took advantage on the other end scoring in the lane to make it a one possession game, 57-54, with 0:44 left.
Sophomore point guard Britney Blythe, who had two points, three assists and two steals, missed a jumper just inside the free-throw line with the shot clock nearing zero, and :07 left in the contest, but Fressle pulled in the clutch offensive rebound. After Fressle cleared the ball, Brown was forced to foul Smith, who hit both free throws to clinch CU's third straight win over Missouri and third in five total trips to Mizzou Arena.
"I'm really proud of them right now," said Kathy McConnell-Miller who picked up her 50th win as CU's head coach. "I thought we got a little careless at times in the second half, but we maintained our composure. We told them not to get too high or too low and not to get too excited when (Missouri) makes a run because these things happen."
"I think what you saw was the maturity of this team. Even with (the losses in) the first four games, I promised them we were getting better. We were composed and very passionate tonight against an extremely tough opponent. It was a real confidence booster."
Colorado, which has been prone to falling behind on the road early, did so once again as a 14-4 run gave the Tigers an 18-8 lead at the 13:18 mark of the first half. However, Saturday night the Buffaloes had an answer.
Richards scored 10 of CU's first 17 points, hitting 5-of-5 from the field, and a layup at 8:53 cut the Missouri lead to 20-17. But Richards picked up her second foul on the ensuing Missouri possession and sat for the rest of the half. That's when Smith took over.
Smith hit four 3-pointers after Richards went out of the game as the Buffaloes closed the half on an 18-9 run. After missing her first attempt in the opening minutes, she made her next five in the period, tying the school record for 3-pointers made in one half, a mark she also achieved in last year's Texas game and shares with Kate Fagan and Shelley Sheetz.
The Buffaloes survived 10 first-half turnovers by shooting 56 percent from the field (14-of-25) in the first 20 minutes. Smith and Richards were a combined 13-of-20.
Colorado returns home to host Texas Tech on Wednesday, Jan. 28, at 7 p.m. at the Coors Events/Conference Center. The game will be televised live by FSN Rocky Mountain.