After a tough weekend against Stanford and California, Chucky Jeffery wasn't about to let her team start 0-3 in Pac-12 play.
Colorado head coach Linda Lappe implored Jeffery to be more assertive before Tuesday night, and the senior from Colorado Springs responded by scoring a season-high 28 points to secure CU's first conference win of the season, a 67-57 triumph over Utah (9-5, 0-3).
"(After) the past two games, I watched film with coach and we just were watching clips and I was tentative and wasn't looking to score," said Jeffery. "She just wanted me to be more aggressive."
Colorado started out slowly, failing to get out to the perimeter to guard Utah's leading scorer and Olympian Michelle Plouffe. Plouffe was wide open for several jumpers, including two three-pointers, to give her 11 points entering the locker room at halftime.
"We just weren't ready to play," said Jeffery. "Especially coming out of the gates in the first half, we were lackadaisical and not aggressive."
Towards the middle of the first half Buffs were sparked on defense by the ultra-athletic Jamee Swan. Swan recorded her career-high in rebounds, with 11 on the evening, including eight in the first half, to give Colorado the edge on the glass, an advantage they failed to grasp against Stanford and California.
Plouffe and fellow Canadian post Taryn Wicijowski came out of halftime strong, leading Utah to an seven point advantage with just under 13 minutes left in the game.
Colorado would respond well to the Utes' challenge, going on a game-clinching 20-3 run. Whenever the Buffs' offense became stagnant, Jeffery would find an answer.
"(She's) a special player," said Utah head coach Anthony Levrets of Jeffery. "There were a few times when she just had the ball in her hands the entire possession and made a play at the end of it."
CU finished the game with aplomb, converting on 24 of 26 free throw attempts in the second half, many in crucial situations near the end of the game.
Colorado and Utah will square off again on Sunday in Salt Lake City.
"It's different that we play them again so soon," said Lappe. "But it's also good because we know what they are going to do and they know what we are going to do. It comes down to who is going to execute better in their system."
Jeffery's 28 points moved her into 12th place on Colorado's all-time scoring list, passing Diane Hiemstra (1981-84) and Mandy Nightingale (1998-2002)... Arielle Roberson's record-breaking streak of double-digit scoring games to begin her career came to an end tonight at 13... Lappe is now 3-1 all-time against Utah.