CU Closes Out Kansas, 69-62
BOULDER- Four Colorado players scored in double digits to lift the Buffaloes to a 69-62 win over Kansas in a Big 12 Conference battle Wednesday night at the Coors Events/Conference Center.
With tonight's victory, Colorado redeems itself after a 65-54 loss to the Jayhawks in Lawrence two weeks ago. The Buffaloes (11-12, 3-8) now pull ahead of Kansas (13-11, 2-9) in Big 12 play and remain in a tie for ninth place with Missouri, a 52-43 winner over No. 16 Kansas State on Wednesday.
Junior Bianca Smith and sophomore Brittany Spears each knocked down a game-high 18 points. Smith shot 4-for-6 from 3-point range and contributed three steals and an assist. Spears also tallied seven rebounds, three steals, and a block. Sophomore guard Kelly Jo Mullaney, who started for the first time in 15 games, gave the Buffs great intensity and hustle on the floor.
CU head coach Kathy McConnell-Miller was very happy with Mullaney's performance: "The sets we run with her in, we were able to push the ball. A lot of our points early on were off transition offense. I'm definitely happy with what Kelly Jo brought today," she said.
Mullaney saw 38 minutes of playing time and added a personal Big 12-best 13 points, an assist, and a steal.
Senior center Kara Richards recorded her first double-double of the season and the third of her career with 10 points and 10 rebounds on the night. Richards also logged a season-high three steals.
It was an intense game right from the get-go. CU jumped out on top first after a Smith steal set up Mullaney and freshman Alyssa Fressle for a fastbreak give-and-go which ended with a three-point play after Mullaney was fouled on her layup and netted the basket and the extra point. CU outscored the Jayhawks 10-2 to open the game.
The Buffs jumped ahead to as much as a 12-point lead in the first half, but the Jayhawks shut the Buffs out for 6 minutes and 35 seconds. Kansas came within one point of Colorado's lead on this run, but the Buffs stayed on top until half, entering the locker room with a 31-28 margin.
CU held onto its lead in the second half until the 8:53 mark when Jayhawk Nicollette Smith shot a trey from downtown giving Kansas a 50-48 lead, its first of the game.
The game was back-and-forth over the next 7:20 and no team held more than a four-point lead. The Buffs and Jayhawks were tied with just over two minutes left, but successful free throw shooting allowed CU to pull ahead as the team went 9-for-10 from the charity stripe to close out the game.
Senior Hannah Skildum gave the Buffs a spark off the bench tonight, contributing four points, two rebounds, an assist, a steal, and a career-high three blocks in 14 minutes of play.
With tonight's performance, Spears became the fifth player in CU history to score 400 points in each of her first two seasons and only the fourth to do it as an underclassman.
Smith led Kansas with a team-high 15 points, Krysten Boogaard added 13, and Danielle McCray and Sade Morris contributed 11 and 10 points respectively.
Colorado travels to Kansas State to take on the No. 16 (AP)/14 (WBCA) Wildcats on Saturday, Feb. 21, at 1 p.m. in Manhattan.