Colorado Shuts Down Missouri, 58-48
BOULDER-Brittany Spears scored a team season-high 26 points and Colorado enjoyed one of its best defensive efforts of the season to claim a 58-48 Big 12 Conference win over Missouri Saturday night at the Coors Events Center.
Spears scored 18 of her points in the second half, helping the Buffaloes (11-7, 2-3 Big 12) rally from a four-point halftime deficit.
Colorado's defense keyed the game. The Buffaloes kept Missouri (9-10, 1-4 Big 12) to just 28 percent from the field (18-of-65) and outrebounded the Tigers 53-41. Missouri's 48 points were the lowest by a CU opponent in a Big 12 game since the Buffs held the Tigers to a similar mark in a 64-48 win last year at the Coors Events Center.
Missouri's RaeShara Brown had 13 points, but was just 5-of-16 from the field as the Buffaloes kept the Tigers' leading scorer out of rhythm. Senior guard Britney Blythe, who had a pair of 3-pointers on the offensive end, keyed the Buffaloes effort against Brown.
"(Blythe) did a great job," CU head coach Linda Lappe said. "She was our unsung hero in the game, she worked and worked. It didn't matter where Brown was, Blythe was right there. When (Brown) did score, she had to really, really work at it."
"I think a lot of it is our team defense," Blythe added. "I was guarding her but I had so much help from our post and the guards. Everyone was communicating; we did a great job in scouting them and practicing how to guard them."
Colorado jumped out to an early 10 point lead as Missouri missed its first 11 shots of the game. Blythe's first 3-pointer with 14 minutes, 32 seconds left in the first half gave CU a 12-2 lead.
Brown, who hit two early free throws for Missouri's first points ended the drought from the field with a driving layup at the 12:59 mark. After a CU turnover Jasmyn Otote hit one of her three first half 3-pointers to cut the Buffs' lead to 12-7.
The Buffaloes pushed their lead back to 10 with layups from Spears and Chucky Jeffery, who returned to the CU lineup after missing the previous two games with a concussion. Rachel Hargis scored on the block off a nice entry pass from Chelsea Dale as the Buffaloes led 21-11 with 9:11 remaining. But immediately after, Colorado went cold. The Buffaloes scored only one field goal the rest of the half after Hargis' layup, a Spears runner with 2:08 left.
While Colorado went cold, Missouri heated up. The Tigers went on a 16-2 run, and took their first lead since the game was 2-0 on a banked Otote 3-pointer, which gave Missouri a 25-23 lead at 1:44. Brown then got a steal and a layup with under a minute to put MU up 27-23 at the half. The Tigers took advantage of 10 CU first half turnovers, turning them into 12 points.
Colorado's drought extended early in the second half, until Spears started to attack the basket, accounting for 11 of CU's first 15 second half points. She cut through the lane at the 17:40 mark, was fouled by BreAnna Brock, and hit the free throw to cut the margin to 28-26.
Spears then tied the score on a nice give and go with Wilson. She passed from the wing to Wilson at the top of the key. Wilson sent it right back at Spears knifing down the middle for the score. Spears then gave Colorado the lead back at 32-31 with another drive to the bucket.
Spears did miss a shot during that run, but Julie Seabrook scored on the put back. Spears then stole the ball in the Missouri back court and went coast-to-coast as the Buffs pushed their lead to 36-31. Another Spears drive capped off a 15-4 CU run to open the second.
"We really turned it around in the second half," Lappe said. "I thought we changed our thought process on how we were attacking their defense."
Blythe's second 3-pointer gave CU a 41-32 lead before the Tigers made one last run at the Buffaloes.
Missouri's Shakara Jones hit a layup and Christine Flores had a 3-pointer to cut CU's lead back down to 42-37. After a defensive stop, the Tigers got consecutive offensive rebounds and Jones connected on a layup and free throw to make it a 42-40 score with 8:37 left.
A Brown free throw pulled the Tigers to within one at 44-43 before the Buffaloes started to pull away. Spears answered on the other end by putting back one of her own misses. Seabrook followed with a free throw and another Spears drive gave the Buffaloes a 49-43 lead.
Wilson, who finished with her first career double-double netting 11 points and a career-best 12 rebounds, drilled a 3-pointer to put CU up 52-43 with 2:51 left.
Missouri clawed back to within four at 52-48 on a Brown 3-point play, but Spears delivered the final blow with her only 3-pointer of the game that gave CU a 55-48 advantage at the 1:47 mark.
"It was a team effort," Spears said. "We were passing the ball, moving the ball around. I was just getting open because they were setting good screens."
Spears added 13 rebounds to claim her seventh double-double of the season, and 29th of her career. Seabrook added seven points and 11 rebounds.
Jones finished with 12 points and six rebounds. Flores added five points and a team-best 10 boards.
Colorado continues Big 12 Conference action by hosting Kansas State University on Wednesday, Jan. 26, at 7 p.m. at the Coors Events Center. The game will be televised live by FSN Rocky Mountain.