A season that brought Colorado women's basketball back to the heights it once knew came to a disappointing end Saturday night at the Coors Events Center, as the Buffs fell to Kansas, 67-52, in the first round of the NCAA tournament.
Colorado began the game on fire, forcing Kansas head coach Bonnie Henrickson to take a timeout after a Jen Reese layup put Colorado up 11-4. Out of the timeout, Chucky Jeffery stole the ball and dished to Brittany Wilson for a three-pointer to grab a game-high lead of ten.
From that point on it was all Jayhawks. After Wilson's three, Kansas would go on a 33-16 run to conclude the first half. The Jayhawks' 37 first half points were the second-most allowed in a half all year for Colorado. KU point guard Angel Goodrich sliced and diced the Buffaloes defense in the first half, scoring seven points and adding four assists.
"We did not do a very good job in the first half of slowing her down," said head coach Linda Lappe. "She was way too comfortable; she got by us way too easily."
Trailing by ten at halftime, Colorado started off the second half the way they ended the first. CU didn't score until the 16:24 mark when Jamee Swan hit a free throw. It took the Buffs just under six minutes to knock in the first field goal of the half.
"The beginning of the second half we didn't come out and do any of the things we talked about at halftime," said Lappe. We were back on our heels, and we aren't very good when we we're back on our heels."
Kansas' bigs got easy look after easy look. Jayhawks' forward Carolyn Davis finished with 14 points, while her fellow forward Chelsea Gardner contributed with 12 points of her own. KU's interior domination likely had much to do with the absence of Colorado center Rachel Hargis, who tore her right MCL in practice.
"The thing that Kansas beat us on tonight was toughness," said Lappe. "And that's what Rachel is. That's her role, that's her job, that's what she brings."
Swan filled in proficiently for Hargis when she wasn't in foul trouble, swatting four shots and scoring four points.
While the Buffs lose Jeffery, one of the program's best players in its history, they do return four starters and several more key players off the bench. Arielle Roberson, Wilson, Jen Reese, Hargis, Lexy Kresl, Swan and Jasmine Sborov are among those returning for Colorado next season.
"I think the program's come a long way," said Jeffery, when asked to put her career in perspective. "They're going to be back here for sure next year."
Colorado falls in the first round for the third time in 13 trips... Chucky Jeffery shot a season low 2-16 from the field (.125 percent)... Arielle Roberson tallied her third career double-double (11 points and 12 rebounds... Angel Goodrich tied a team NCAA record with 8 assists.