In a game that included a missing head coach and a 20 minute delay after a sprinkler head malfunction, Colorado women's basketball prevailed, defeating Illinois 79-56.
"I thought that was a great win for our team," said head coach Linda Lappe. "They're athletic, they're quick, they showed us a lot of different things tonight, which we had to scheme against. I like how our players responded. There were a lot of different obstacles, some adversity throughout the game. It was great for our players to be able to withstand the adversity."
The Fighting Illini were without second-year head coach Matt Bollant due to an illness. Bollant made the trip but stayed at the team hotel. Associate head coach Mike Divilbiss filled in as the acting head coach.
Illinois jumped out to a quick 6-0 advantage, as Amber Moore, who ranks fourth in the NCAA in 3-point field goal percentage, got two open looks in consecutive possessions to start the game. Lappe called a quick timeout just 42 seconds into the game. Following the timeout, the Buffs went on a 20-7 scoring run, to take a 20-13 lead.
With a little over nine minutes to play in the first half, fire alarms began to sound at the Coors Events Center. Play continued until the 8:30 mark, when fans and players were told to evacuate to the concourse. After a delay of 20 minutes, action resume. Colorado showed no signs of rust from the delay, going into halftime with a 45-37 lead.
Colorado struggled at times in the second half against Illinois' buzz defense, which is predicated upon forcing the opponent into difficult, cross-court passes. CU's 21 turnovers were a season high.
"We were seeing openings - we had a lot of openings, (we were) just not completing passes for whatever reason - too much ball pressure, not seeing, not being quite sure that the pass was going to be open," said Lappe.
Arielle Roberson had a terrific night for the Buffs, scoring a team-high 17 points and grabbing 10 boards. Jen Reese found lots of openings in the buzz defense, scoring 16 points on 7-of-9 shooting. Rachel Hargis and Jasmine Sborov both finished in double figures with 12 and 10 points respectively.
Colorado returns to the hardwood on Thursday, as they take on in-state rival Denver.
Jen Reese is 31-of-45 (.688) over her last six games... Brittany Wilson had a great all-around game for Colorado. The senior from Long Beach had 13 rebounds and a career-high 8 assists to go along with 7 points... Linda Lappe improves to 2-1 against the Fighting Illini. Last year, CU beat Illinois on the road 69-62...
Player of the Game
Arielle Roberson - The smooth sophomore from San Antonio had her best game of the season thus far.