No. 17 Colorado women's basketball saw a double digit lead evaporate in the waning minutes at Moby Arena, only to escape with a 63-59 win over in-state rival Colorado State.
"In the middle of that second half, we knew that's where we needed to extend the lead - from about the 15 minute mark to the seven minute mark," said head coach Linda Lappe. "I was just maybe hoping we didn't stop going at the seven minute mark."
The Buffs got out to a strong start, led by Arielle Roberson, who scored seven of her team's first 10 points, as the Buffs led 10-4, but the Rams battled back when Roberson took a turn on the bench. Colorado went 6:07 without scoring after jumping out to the quick six point advantage.
Colorado closed the half on a 15-5 run, entering the locker room with a 33-27 lead behind strong performances by Roberson and Jen Reese.
Jasmine Sborov, who sat for the majority of the first half with foul trouble, sparked the Buffs out of halftime, forcing a quick timeout by CSU head coach Ryun Williams after she hit a quick jumper, forced a turnover, and scooped in a layup. CU continued to stretch the lead until the 6:46 mark, when CSU began to mount a comeback.
After Roberson's layup put the Buffs ahead 59-46 with just under seven minutes remaining, CSU would go on a 13-1 run, culminating in two Caitlin Duffy free-throws and an Ellen Nystrom jumper after Lappe was whistled for a technical for hitting her clipboard "a little too hard" against the scorer's table. Lappe called a timeout, and the Buffs regrouped on the defensive end of the floor. CSU would fail to score another point in the remaining 2:13, and Colorado won their first game of the season, 63-59.
"When it's so early in the season, you don't really have a lot of film to watch," head coach Linda Lappe told AM-760 after the win. "They don't really know who they are and we don't really know who we are - so how can we know each other? It's about trying to learn on the fly. I thought we did a nice job."
Roberson and Sborov led the Buffs in scoring with 13 points apiece. Colorado returns to Boulder for its home opener on Friday against Alcorn State.
This is a much improved CSU team - the Buffs destroyed them last year at Coors, 72-46 - they look like they could be an upper-tier team in the Mountain West this season. Buff fans shouldn't be too alarmed by the less-than-impressive beginning to the season, CU only beat Idaho by five at home in last season's opener. The Buffs went with a very tall starting five, with Lexy Kresl at the point, Sborov at the two-guard, Reese at the three, Roberson at the four, and Rachel Hargis at the five - all except Kresl are over 6-feet. Colorado had way too many turnovers (19), many coming on player control fouls. CU dominated the boards 50-35. Tuesday's victory is Colorado's 25th consecutive victory over a regular season non-conference opponent.
Player of the Game
Jasmine Sborov - Lappe had great things to say about her junior out of Round Rock's improvement over the offseason. Sborov backed it up with a career night in points in limited minutes due to foul trouble.