Colorado Clips Missouri In Closing Seconds
COLUMBIA, Mo. - Britney Blythe nailed a go-ahead 3-pointer with 15 seconds left and Brittany Spears hit two clutch free throws to give Colorado a 63-59 come-from-behind win over Missouri Saturday afternoon at Mizzou Arena.
Colorado (14-13, 5-9) earns the season-sweep over the Tigers (12-16, 4-10) in the final Big 12 Conference regular season game between the long-time foes. More importantly, the win snapped a nine-game CU road losing streak and put the Buffaloes back above .500 with just two regular season games remaining.
Spears tied her own team season-high with 26 points and became the second player in team history to reach 2,000, hitting the milestone on a 3-pointer at the 12:20 mark of the second half. Spears, now at 2,011, needs 57 points to pass Lisa Van Goor (1980-85) for CU's all-time lead.
"It was one of those grind it out games," CU head coach Linda Lappe said. "Neither team played great. It just feels good to win a game like that and do what it takes down the stretch to win."
With milestones seemingly following Spears at every turn, it was a miss that set up Blythe's heroics.
In a game where neither team led by more than five points and featured nine lead changes, it was Missouri that looked to have the momentum late. Trenee Thornton and RaeShara Brown broke the game's eighth and final tie with back-to-back buckets to give the Tigers a 59-55 lead with 2:32 remaining.
Meagan Malcolm-Peck responded with a baseline drive and bucket, was fouled by Christine Flores, and hit the subsequent free throw to cut the Missouri lead to 59-58 at 1:43.
The Buffaloes were able to stop the Tigers on consecutive possessions and took the clock down under 20 seconds. Spears took an open baseline 3-pointer with 19 seconds left, but her attempt bounced off the front of the rim. Junior Julie Seabrook, grabbed the offensive rebound and found Blythe at the top of the key. In rhythm, Blythe connected on her only trey of the contest to put CU up 61-59.
"We didn't have our offense going all night, so (the rebound and kickout) probably was the best offense we could have gotten at that point," Lappe said. "(Blythe) had her feet ready and eyed it all the way, there was no second guessing. She's been shooting the ball really well and she stepped up with confidence and nailed it."
"As soon as I saw Julie [Seabrook] get the ball I thought 'I am wide open, I am just going to stay here and spot up,'" Blythe said. "I knew that a lot of people were going to be running at [Brittany] Spears and Chucky [Jeffery] because they are our go to players. It is second nature. I just shot the ball and it felt good."
After a Missouri timeout, Brown, looking to score quickly, drove the lane but was blocked by Rachel Hargis, who was a defensive sub for Seabrook. Spears took in the rebound, was fouled by Shakara Jones, and calmly sank the pair of free throws to provide the final margin.
Free throws fittingly helped the Buffaloes down the stretch. Colorado, which has ranked near the bottom of the Big 12 from the free-throw line for most of the season, hit 13-of-15 in the second half (14-of-16 for the game). Chucky Jeffery alone was 7-of-9 from the stripe en route to 18 points and six rebounds.
Spears, who hit the 20-point mark for the 41st time in her career, narrowly missed a double-double with nine rebounds.
After Missouri scored the first five points of the game, the teams started trading jabs. Brown hit a pair of shots and a Jasmyn Otote basket gave Missouri an early 11-6 lead.
Spears hit her first of two first half 3-pointers, and Jeffery followed with a basket after a stop to quickly tie the game back at 11.
Spears, who needed 15 to reach 2,000, had 12 in the first half alone hitting 5-of-11 from the field. But it was Jeffery, who provided the boost down the stretch of the period.
After Spears final score of the first half tied the game at 24, Jeffery scored the Buffaloes last seven. She capped a 7-0 CU run with five straight, including a conventional 3-point play as the Buffs held their largest lead at 29-24. Jones ended the Missouri drought with a 3-pointer and a Brown free throw got the Tigers back to one.
Jeffery closed out the first half scoring with a basket to give CU a 31-28 lead at the break.
Flores led Missouri with 18 points and a game-high 14 rebounds. Brown finished with 17 points.
Colorado will play its final Big 12 regular season road contest on Wednesday, March 2, against the University of Nebraska at 6:05 p.m. in Lincoln. The game will be televised live on FSN Rocky Mountain.