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Buffs Host UC Riverside In WNIT Thursday

Mar 16, 2011

THE GAME: The University of Colorado hosts UC Riverside in a first round Women's National Invitation Tournament (WNIT) game on Thursday, March 17, at 7 p.m. at the Coors Events Center.

BROADCAST: Thursday's WNIT first round game will be broadcast live on KKZN AM 760. Mike Rice will give the play by play with USA Basketball's Carol Callan with the color commentary. Live internet audio of all CU basketball games is available on BuffsRadio, a free subscription service through Live internet video streaming of Thursday's game is available on BuffsTV, also a subscription service through Please note the BuffsRadio audio and BuffsTV video are separate subscriptions.

POSTSEASON FACTS: Colorado is in postseason play for the 19th time in team history with an overall record of 26-18. The Buffs played in four AIAW Tournaments from 1979-82 (5-4) and have made 12 NCAA Tournament Appearances (17-12).

- This is Colorado's third trip to the postseason WNIT, entering with an overall record of 4-2. The Buffaloes also participated in the 1999 event (1-1) and reached the 2008 semifinals (3-1).

- All six of Colorado's previous postseason WNIT games were played at the Coors Events Center.

- CU is 18-5 all-time at home in postseason (12-3 NCAA, 4-2 WNIT, 2-0 AIAW) and has won six of its last seven.

- Colorado head coach Linda Lappe has coached in the WNIT before, but this will be the first time as a head coach. She was on the Drake staff that went to WNIT's in 2004 and '06.

- Lappe was a true freshman on CU's 1999 WNIT team

- Colorado's three seniors Brittany Spears, Britney Blythe and Chelsea Dale were freshmen on CU's 2008 WNIT team. Spears started all four games while Dale played in the semifinal against Marquette. Blythe did not see action in the four games.

- CU assistant coach Jennie Baranczyk was an assistant on the Marquette team that defeated Colorado in the 2008 WNIT semifinals, eventually winning the tournament title.

CU IN THE WNIT (All Games In Boulder)

1999 (1-1)
First Round: Colorado 70, BYU 53
Second Round: Drake 82, Colorado 66

2008 (3-1)
First Round: BYE
Second Round: Colorado 82, Gonzaga 68
Third Round: Colorado 64, Villanova 58
Quarterfinals: Colorado 96, TCU 90 (OT)
Semifinals: Marquette 86, Colorado 72

THE BUFFALOES: Colorado is 15-15 overall and finished its final Big 12 regular season tied with Kansas for eighth place in the league standings at 6-10. Colorado was the No. 9 seed in the 2011 Phillips 66 Big 12 Women's Basketball Championship, falling to the No. 8 seed Jayhawks, 71-45, in a first round game on March 8. Colorado has its most overall wins since the 2008 WNIT semifinal team finished 19-15, and its best league mark since finishing 6-10 in 2007. The Buffaloes are wrapping up their affiliation with the Big 12 and gearing up for Pacific-12 Conference competition beginning in 2011-12.

Colorado's averages 61 points per game while shooting 39 percent from the field. Defensively the Buffaloes allow 62 points per outing while opponents are shooting just under 40 percent.  Numbers favor Colorado a little more from long range with the Buffaloes hitting 33 percent from downtown, and have 45 more 3-pointers than their opponents who have shot just 31 percent. The opposition has the advantage from the line, having more than 100 free-throws made and attempted than the Buffs, shooting at 71.4 percent compared to 65.3 percent for CU.  Colorado has been winning the battle of the boards, outrebounding or equaling its opponent in 21-of-30 games (more on CU rebounding below).

All-Big 12 first team senior guard/forward Brittany Spears leads CU and ranks fourth in the Big 12 in scoring at 18.1 points per game. She is also second in defensive rebounds (5.8 drpg), fourth in 3-point field goals (2.2 3mpg) and overall rebounding (8.0 rpg), sixth in free-throw percentage (.821) and 10th in blocked shots (1.1 bpg) and steals (1.9 spg).

Spears is averaging 22.8 points, 8.4 rebounds and three steals over the past five games in which CU is 3-2. She had a team-best 21 points in the Big 12 first round game against Kansas, her 44th career 20-plus point game, and nearly had her ninth double-double of the season, claiming nine rebounds. She has logged double digits in scoring in 28-of-30 games this season and in 107-of-123 career outings. Her 107 career games in double-figures ranks as the second most in team history, trailing only Lisa Van Goor, who had 108 from 1980-85. Spears also leads the team in 3-point field goals (66) and blocks (34) and is second in steals (57) and rebounds on a per game basis (8.0 rpg).

Sophomore guard Chucky Jeffery is CU's top rebounder on a per-game basis (8.1 rpg) while ranking second on the team in scoring at 13.3 an outing. Jeffery has eight double-doubles this season, ranking fifth in the Big 12, including the second triple-double in team history by recording 10 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists against Loyola Chicago.

Jeffery leads the Big 12 in steals (2.7 spg) and defensive rebounds (5.9 drpg) while ranking third in overall rebounding, seventh in assists (4.2 apg), 15th in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.1), and 17th in scoring.

Sophomore guard/forward Meagan Malcolm-Peck is averaging 6.9 points and 4.8 rebounds and is second on the team in 3-point field goals (35) and third in blocked shots (15). Malcolm-Peck scored a season-high 16 points and grabbed 10 rebounds against Baylor, her third double-double of the season. She is hitting the boards especially hard as of late averaging 7.0 per game over the last five contests, including eight in the Kansas game, seven of which came on the offensive end, a career-high. Malcolm-Peck had the league's fifth best 3-point percentage during Big 12 games at 40.8 percent (20-of-49) and is 10th on the league's overall season charts at 37.2 percent (35-of-94). Malcolm-Peck is 14th on CU's all-time list for 3-pointers made with 57.

Junior forward Julie Seabrook is averaging 5.6 points and 5.3 rebounds per game while shooting a team best 48.6 percent from the field (68-of-140). She has shot 60 percent or better in 15 games, and 50 percent or better in 18 outings. Seabrook has four games of double-digit rebounds, including a season-best 11 boards in the home win over Missouri.

Freshman guard Brittany Wilson is averaging 7.5 points and 3.5 rebounds per game and is one of three Buffs -- joining Spears and Jeffery -- with at least 30 assists and 30 steals. Her 32 total steals rank sixth among freshmen in the Big 12. Wilson had 12 points and five rebounds against Baylor, her best numbers in eight games. She has 10 games of scoring double-digits this season.

Senior guard Britney Blythe has had recent success from downtown making 18 of her last 44 (.409). Blythe hit the clutch go-ahead 3-pointer against Missouri with just 14.1 seconds left, giving the Buffs a 61-59 lead. She hit 39.6 percent from deep during the Big 12 season, ranking eighth on the league charts.

Freshman center Rachel Hargis is becoming a solid player off the bench, especially on the defensive side. Hargis ranks second on the team in blocked shots with 23, which is also the third best total among freshmen in the Big 12.  She stepped it up in that category during league play. Sixteen of those 23 blocks, came during the conference schedule ranking 11th on the league charts, including a personal-best four at Iowa State. Her overall season average of 0.8 blocks per game ranks 14th on the league ledger.

ABOUT THE HIGHLANDERS: UC Riverside is 19-12 overall and finished the Big West Conference regular season in third place at 11-5. The Highlanders advanced to the Big West semifinals, falling to eventual tournament champion UC Davis. UCR averages 64 points per game on 42 percent from the field and 75 percent from the free-throw line. UC Riverside boasts the Big West's second-best field goal percentage defense, allowing opponents just 38 percent shooting and also ranks among the league leaders in steals (10.1 spg), blocks (4.7 bpg) and turnover margin (+1.2).

Two-time All-Big West first team guard Tre'Shonti Nottingham leads a balanced UCR scoring attack at 13.6 points per game. She also leads the Highlanders in steals with 71 and is hitting 46 percent from the field. Fellow back court mate Alyssa Morris is second on the team in scoring at 12.3 points per game. The two-time All-Big West guard paces the Highlanders in rebounding at 5.7 per contest. Senior wing Brittany Waddell averages 12 points per game and leads UCR with 48 3-pointers. Senior forward Rhaya Neabors averages 10.3 points while shooting 45 percent.

SERIES RECORDS: This will be the second meeting between Colorado and UC Riverside, with the Buffaloes claiming victory in the only other matchup. Colorado claimed a 63-50 win over the Highlanders on Dec. 29, 2000, in the first game of the Masry & Vititoe Basketball Classic in San Diego.

Colorado is 14-6 all-time against teams currently in the Big West. Most recently, the Buffaloes played UC Irvine to open the 2009-10 season, claiming a 61-56 win.

SPEARS ALL-BIG 12: Senior Brittany Spears has been named to the 2010-11 All-Big 12 Conference Women's Basketball First Team the league office announced on March 7.

Spears is Colorado's fifth All-Big 12 First Team honoree and the third different player to earn that distinction. Tera Bjorklund earned back-to-back first team awards in 2002-03 and 2003-04 as did Jackie McFarland in 2006-07 and 2007-08. It's the second all-league citation for Spears, as she was a second team pick in 2008-09. Overall, it's the 14th All-Big 12 honor for the Buffaloes.

BIG 12 RECORD FINALIZED: Colorado finished its 15 years in the Big 12 with a regular season conference record of 100-140 (.417). The Buffaloes claimed win No. 100 with their 64-61 win at Nebraska on March 5.

RANKING NUMBERS: Colorado dropped to 2-3 this season against ranked teams after its loss to No. 3 Baylor, but the Buffaloes still have multiple wins against ranked teams in the same season for the first time since 2007-08.

Colorado's 66-60 overtime win over No. 17/16 Iowa State on Jan. 15 in Boulder broke a string of 24-straight losses to ranked teams and 21-game skid against teams ranked in both AP and WBCA Coaches polls (Iowa State was ranked only in the WBCA poll in one meeting last season as was Kansas State in two meetings in 2008-09). Prior to the upset, CU's last win over a ranked opponent was a 73-68 decision over No. 15/15 Kansas State on Feb. 23, 2008.

The last time the Buffaloes beat a ranked ISU team was on Jan. 23, 2002, in an 86-73 win at home. At that time, Colorado was ranked 20/19 as ISU secured a 14/10 position in the polls. The win marked the first time in history that a non-ranked Colorado team has beaten a ranked ISU squad.

Colorado's 73-68 win over No. 16/15 Oklahoma, was the first win over a ranked Sooner team since a 69-64 decision in Norman on Feb. 3, 1995 (CU was ranked No. 4, OU No. 25). It was the first unranked CU team to beat an OU ranked team since a 94-80 win on Jan. 27, 1987, OU was ranked No. 23 in the coaches poll.

LAPPE IN ELITE COACHING COMPANY: Colorado's Linda Lappe is the only rookie NCAA Division I head coach to beat a ranked opponent this season, and her teams have achieved it twice, knocking off No. 17/16 Iowa State and No. 16/15 Oklahoma.

Of 35 coaches in Division I that are in the first season at the helm of their respective programs, including those who have been head coaches elsewhere, there are six wins against ranked teams. Lappe has two of those wins, Missouri's Robin Pingeton (formerly of Illinois State) three and Houston's Todd Buchanan (formerly of Houston Baptist) the other.

Additionally, Lappe is one of just three NCAA I rookie head coaches to lead her team into postseason play. Toyelle Wilson led Prairie View A&M to the Southwestern Athletic Conference title and an NCAA appearance. Illinois State's Stephanie Glance led the Redbirds into the WNIT.

BUFFS REBOUNDING: One of Colorado's strengths this year is rebounding. The Buffaloes are currently averaging 38.9 rebounds per game while allowing just 35.2 per contest.

Colorado has equaled or outrebounded 21-of-30 opponents this season, and four of those games where CU was outrebounded, it was by two or fewer boards. Colorado equaled or outrebounded nine Big 12 opponents this year compared to just four of 16 Big 12 games in 2010.

CU pulled down a season high 53 rebounds in the home win over Missouri, tying for the most ever by the Buffaloes in a Big 12 game. CU also had 53 in a 69-40 win at Texas A&M on Feb. 8, 1997. Colorado's 20 offensive rebounds were its most in a Big 12 game since grabbing 20 in a 67-53 win over Texas on Feb. 16, 2008. Colorado's plus-18 rebound margin against Nebraska at home (45-27) was its most in a Big 12 game since out dueling Texas 50-29 (+21) on the boards on Feb. 16, 2008.

ON THE DEFENSIVE END: Second shot opportunities have been at a premium against Colorado as the Buffaloes rank second in the Big 12 in defensive rebounding percentage. When an opponent's shot goes up, Colorado claims the defensive board 70.9 percent of the time (769/1084), trailing only Iowa State at 73.7 percent (888/1205). The Buffaloes have given up the fewest offensive rebounds in the Big 12 this season (315). CU ranks fifth in overall rebounding defense at 35.2.

CU DOUBLES: Colorado is the only school in the Big 12 with two players sporting eight or more double-doubles this season. Senior Brittany Spears and sophomore Chucky Jeffery are tied for fifth in the Big 12 with eight double-doubles each.

Big 12 Double-Double Leaders
13     Toni Young, Oklahoma State
13     Danielle Adams, Texas A&M
9       Brittney Griner, Baylor
9       Kathleen Nash, Texas
8       Brittany Spears, Colorado
8       Chucky Jeffery, Colorado

Spears has 30 career double-doubles, ranking fourth on CU's all-time list. Jeffery's career total is nine after her 12-point, 10-rebound performance against Oklahoma.

JEFFERY, SPEARS BEST REBOUNDING DUO IN BIG 12: Chucky Jeffery ranks third in the Big 12 in rebounding at 8.1 per game, just a fraction behind Oklahoma State's Toni Young and Texas A&M's Danielle Adams. Brittany Spears is right behind her in fourth at 8.0 per contest. The CU duo's 16.1 boards per outing is the best mark for a pair of teammates in the Big 12:

1. Chucky Jeffery (8.1), Brittany Spears (8.0), Colorado   16.1
2. Kathleen Nash (7.9), Ashley Gayle (7.2), Texas                  15.1
3. Brittney Griner (7.8), Melissa Jones (7.0), Baylor                14.8
4. Aishah Sutherland (7.5), Carolyn Davis (7.2), Kansas       14.7
5. Danielle Adams (8.6), Adaora Elonu (5.8), Texas A&M     14.4

Jeffery and Spears also rank 1-2 overall on the league charts in defensive rebounds. Jeffery averages 5.9 defensive rebounds per game while Spears is right behind at 5.8 an outing.

BLYTHE PROTECTS THE ROCK: Senior guard Britney Blythe not only routinely takes on the task of guarding the opponents best offensive back court player, but she's among the best in the Big 12 this season in protecting the ball on the other end.

Blythe has just 29 turnovers this season, seven of which came in the first two games. She has turned the ball over only 22 times in the last 28 games and has had four different strings of two or more games without a turnover.

Blythe leads the Big 12 in fewest turnovers over a 40 minute stretch and is fourth for straight up turnovers per game (minimums are 75 percent of games played and 450 minutes played):

Big 12 Turnovers Per 40 Minutes

Name, School                                               MP       TO      TO/40 Min
1. Britney Blythe, Colorado                       828      29      1.40
2. Jordan Barncastle, Texas Tech             485      19      1.57
3. Jasmyn Otote, Missouri                           904      36      1.59
4. Melissa Jones, Baylor                              958      40      1.67
5. Sydney Carter, Texas A&M                     978      34      1.84     

Big 12 Turnovers Per Game

Name, School                                               GP       TO      TOPG
1. Kelsey Harris, Iowa State                        30        20      0.67
2. Jordan Barncastle, Texas Tech             28        19      0.68     
3. Maryann Baker, Texas A&M                   32        29      0.91
4. Britney Blythe, Colorado                       30        29      0.97
5. Jessica Periago, Nebraska                     31        31      1.00

SPEARS BECOMES ALL-TIME LEADING SCORER: Senior guard/forward Brittany Spears scored 21 points in the Big 12 Championship first round game against Kansas and in the process moved past Lisa Van Goor (1980-85) for the program's all-time lead in scoring.

Spears, now with 2,075 points, passed Van Goor on a conventional 3-point play early in the second half. She tied Van Goor at 2,067 with a driving layup in the paint a the 17:04 mark, was fouled, and then scored point No. 2,068 with the ensuing free throw.

Spears is also CU's leader in all-time field-goal attempts with 1,810 as she passed Van Goor's previous mark of 1,787 during the loss to Baylor. On CU's all-time charts, she also ranks second in minutes (4,077), double-figure scoring games (107), field-goals made (756) and 3-point attempts (665), third in blocked shots (150) and games started (123), fourth in rebounds (952), double-doubles (30), and 3-point field-goals made (222), seventh in steals (233) and ninth in free-throws made (341).

SPEARS ON BIG 12 CHARTS: With 2,075 points Brittany Spears is the second-active leading scorer in the Big 12, just behind Oklahoma's Danielle Robinson who has 2,085. Spears is 10th on the Big 12's all-time scoring list and also ranks sixth in career field-goal attempts (1,810), 10th in field-goals made (756) and 12th in 3-point attempts (665).

ACADEMIC BUFFS: Sophomore Meagan Malcolm-Peck and junior Julie Seabrook were named to the Academic All-Big 12 Conference Women's Basketball Second Team on Feb. 15, sporting cumulative GPA's above 3.0. 

The league academic honor is the second for Seabrook, who was a first team pick in 2010, and the first for Malcolm-Peck, who is in her first season of eligibility for this recognition. Both are majoring in business.

Since the formation of the Big 12 for the 1996-97 season, CU's women's basketball team has had 61 Academic All-Big 12 selections, including 40 first team honorees.

COMMUNITY CHAMPION: Junior Julie Seabrook was named CU's member of the 2011 Winter Chick-fil-A Community of Champions team. One student-athlete at each Big 12 institution is awarded each fall, winter and spring term based on academics, community service, leadership and sportsmanship.

SPEARS' STARTING STREAK: Senior Brittany Spears continues to add to her school records for consecutive overall starts and starts from the beginning of a career, now at 123 straight games. She passed the previous mark of overall consecutive starts set by Amy Mathern (1989-93) with her 113th straight start in the Texas game on Jan. 30. She passed Lisa Van Goor (1980-85) for starts at the beginning of a career, when she started her 101st game against Illinois on Dec. 4. She is third in most overall career starts, trailing only the 127 by Erin Scholz (1993-97) and the 126 by Shelley Sheetz (1991-95).

JEFFERY 'STEALS' THE SHOW: Sophomore Chucky Jeffery leads the Big 12 at 2.7 steals per game. Her 70 steals this season rank 13th on CU's single-season list. She has had six or more steals in four games this season (Regis, Evansville, Colgate and Kansas) and has at least three steals in 14 of 26 games. She had a career and team season-high seven steals in the win over Colgate. It's the 21st time a Buff has registered seven or more steals in a game, but the first since Damietta Velicica had seven vs. Tulane on December 6, 1997.

TOUGH SCHEDULE: Seventeen of Colorado's 30 regular season-conference tournament opponents moved on with the Buffaloes to postseason action. Seven Big 12 teams, plus nonconference foes Dayton and UT-Martin advanced to the NCAA Tournament while Kansas, Oklahoma State, USC and Denver all advanced to the WNIT.

Oklahoma State would be the first out of the four WNIT participants the Buffaloes could meet, potentially a third round matchup. Oklahoma State tips off action by hosting Pepperdine on Wednesday.

HOME AT THE CECC: Colorado is traditionally tough at home with a 353-119 all-time record at the Coors Events/Conference Center (.748). The Buffaloes have won 10 or more games in a season at the CECC in 22 of the previous 33 years. The Buffaloes have enjoyed five undefeated seasons (1980-83, 1992-94) at the CECC.

BUFFS ON TV: Colorado's regular season schedule featured 10 games televised either regionally or nationally, seven of which were at home. CU's season opener against Regis on Nov. 12 was the first FSN Rocky Mountain televised followed by Colorado State (Dec. 8), North Dakota (Jan. 4), Kansas (Jan. 12), Kansas State (Jan. 26),  Nebraska (Feb. 6), Kansas State (Feb. 16), Oklahoma (Feb. 23), at Nebraska (Mar 2) and the Big 12 first round game against Kansas (Mar. 8). The home game against Nebraska was televised nationally on FSN as part of the network's Big 12 package.

CU has appeared on 91 regional or national telecasts over the last 10 seasons.