Colorado women's basketball overcame a sloppy first half to defeat Rice 75-58, earning their fifth-straight Omni Hotels Classic title.
The Buffs dashed to a 17-7 lead early in the first half, thanks in large part to a 10-0 run triggered by three-pointers from Lauren Huggins and Brittany Wilson. Rice would counter, outscoring Colorado 22-16 from the 13:24 mark to the end of the first half. Jessica Kuster had 15 of her game-high 30 points in the first half, sending Rice into the locker room with a 30-foot runner at the buzzer and a workable 33-29 deficit.
Colorado's 10 first half turnovers turned into 11 first half points off of turnovers for the Owls. Rice had 11 turnovers of their own in the first half, but Colorado's fast-break wasn't quite as potent, as the Buffs only managed four first-half points off of turnovers.
"We were playing really tentatively in the first half," said head coach Linda Lappe. "We were just out of sync a little - out of rhythm. That caused a lot of our turnovers. We weren't quite sure where our teammate was going to be, we left our feet, made some jump passes, we overpassed a few times when we could have just shot the ball. We just needed to settle in a little bit."
Lexy Kresl and Jasmine Sborov sparked the Buffs to an 11-point advantage with 14:03 remaining, but three Rice treys in just over one minute cut the lead to just four, at 49-45 with 12:06 to go in the game.
Out of a media timeout, Colorado would put the upset-minded Owls to bed with a 14-0 run, holding Rice scoreless for 5:30. Rice would try to claw back, but the 16-point deficit was too big of a hole to climb out of, securing Colorado their sixth victory of the season.
Kresl, who was named MVP of the Omni Hotels Classic, led the Buffs in scoring, with 19 points, 14 of which came in the second half. Jen Reese, who was also named to the all-tournament team, contributed 13 points. Wilson added 11 points, while Arielle Roberson, who returned to the lineup for the first time since suffering a concussion against Iowa, notched nine points.
Up next for Colorado is a Dec. 4 road trip to Laramie to take on the Wyoming Cowboys.
Rice's Jessica Kuster had over half of Rice's points (30-of-58)... Tonight's win marks Colorado's 30th consecutive non-conference regular season win...
Player of the Game
Lexy Kresl - Another excellent game for Colorado's new point guard. Kresl added five rebounds, four assists, and three steals to her 19 points to earn tournament MVP honors.