K-State Freebies Down Buffaloes
MANHATTAN, Kan. - Colorado was perfect from the free throw line. Kansas State was not, but the Wildcats went more and made more.
The No. 16 (AP)/14 (WBCA) ranked Wildcats scored nearly half of their second period points from the foul line to hold off a strong Colorado effort, 72-60, in a Big 12 Conference game Saturday at Bramlage Coliseum.
Kansas State (21-4, 8-4 Big 12) made just nine field goals in the second half, shooting 35 percent, but sank 18-of-23 foul shots. Ashley Sweat, the Wildcats' leading scorer, registered 20 of her team-high 22 points in the final 20 minutes, 13 of which came from the free throw line.
Sophomore Brittany Spears had her eighth double-double of the season to lead Colorado (11-13, 3-9 Big 12) with 25 points and 12 rebounds. Senior center Kara Richards scored 23 points and just missed her second straight double-double, registering nine rebounds.
The Colorado duo was a combined 14-of-14 from the free throw line themselves, each making seven. Colorado made all 16 of its free throw attempts, the second best effort in school history, trailing only its 19-of-19 performance against Nebraska on Feb. 7, 1987.
It was a great start to the game for both teams, a back-and-forth battle that saw eight lead changes and the score tied seven times in the first 13 minutes of the contest. Richards had 10 points in the first half and Bianca Smith hit a pair of 3-pointers, her second tying the score at 22 with 7:24 left in the half.
From there the Buffaloes cooled off. After hitting 6-of-11 to begin the game, Colorado made only 4-of-21 as Kansas State ended the half on a 13-5 run. The Wildcats brushed off nine first half turnovers, which resulted in eight Colorado points, by hitting 52 percent from the floor in the first period (14-of-27).
Kelsey Nelson did most of the early damage for the Wildcats. Her second 3-pointer of the half, sparked a Kansas State 8-0 run after Smith's tying 3-pointer. Richards hit a circus layup on the baseline and Spears added a pair of free throws to cut the KSU lead back down to six, but Nelson grabbed an offensive rebound and put in her 12th point of the half to give KSU a 35-27 lead at the break.
Sweat scored the first five points of the second half to give KSU a 13-point lead. Richards kept Colorado afloat by scoring the team's first eight points of the half, closing the gap to 45-35 with 14:08 left.
After a Marlies Gipson jumper and two Sweat free throws gave Kansas State its largest lead at 49-35, it was Spears turn to lead the Buffaloes back. She scored 10 points during a 12-2 CU run that was highlighted by back-to-back 3-point field goals that trimmed Kansas State's lead to 51-47 with 6:40 remaining.
The Wildcats responded with a 10-2 run to go back up 61-49 and Kansas State put the game away at the line. KSU scored all 11 of its points from the free throw line in the final 2:53 of the game.
Smith finished with six points. Freshman Alyssa Fressle had four points, four assists, three steals and three rebounds. Gipson finished with 16 points and eight rebounds while Nelson had a double-double logging 14 points and 13 boards.
Colorado continues its Big 12 schedule by traveling to face No. 21/23 Iowa State on Wednesday, Feb. 25, at 6 p.m. MST at the Hilton Coliseum in Ames, Iowa.
Bianca Smith hit two 3-pointers, giving her 140 over the last two seasons, the second most in team history in a two year span. Kate Fagan had 149 from 2002-04.
Kara Richards' nine rebounds moved her into CU's career Top 20, as she is tied with Sherrice King (1989-93) for 19th place on the all-time list with 485. She needs 15 to become the 18th player in team history to reach 500.
Richards reached the 20-point mark for the third time this season and first during Big 12 play.
Brittany Spears recorded her third double-double in the last four games. She has eight total on the season, five of which have come during the Big 12 schedule, and 15 in her career.
Colorado dropped its ninth straight game against a ranked opponent and eighth this season. The last ranked team CU defeated was a 73-68 win over No. 15 Kansas State in Boulder nearly one year ago, on Feb. 23, 2008.
Ashley Sweat's 16 second half free throw attempts sets a CU's opponent record for attempts in one half. The old record was held by Sheryl Swoopes of Texas Tech in the NCAA Elite Eight on Mar. 27, 1993.