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Buffaloes Fall To Miners 68-60 In WNIT

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UTEP sets a program record with over 8,000 fans in attendance

USA TODAY Sports

Colorado women's basketball's season came to a conclusion in front of over 8,000 fans at the Don Haskins Center in El Paso, as UTEP saddled the Buffs with a 68-60 loss in the WNIT round of 16.

"We're pretty happy with how we came back - that was not an ideal start," head coach Linda Lappe told AM-760. "It took us a little bit of time for us to get used to the crowd."

The Miners jumped out to a quick 9-0 lead. Jamee Swan got the Buffs on the board at the 16:59 mark with a jumper, but CU had a difficult time containing UTEP's Kristine Vitola. Vitola's quick start had a lot to do with the Miners holding a 26-13 lead midway through the first half.

The Buffs adjusted to UTEP's record crowd and settled in, going on a 15-2 run to tie the game at 28 before the Miners hit a layup and a free throw before the buzzer to regain a three point lead at the half.

A Brittany Wilson free throw tied the game again at 35 at the 16:12 mark, and a Haley Smith jumper gave CU their first lead of the evening with 15:44 to play.

UTEP punched back, going back up by two, but Lauren Huggins drained one of her two three-pointers of the night to give CU a 40-39 lead with 13:03 to play.

Down the stretch with Rachel Hargis and Arielle Roberson in foul trouble, Swan was terrific. She hit jumper after jumper to keep CU within striking distance with time running out on her season. With 5:54 left, Smith converted a runner to tie the game at 50.

The Miners punched back, taking a 56-52 lead with 3:01 to play. Lappe called timeout, but Smith turned the ball over. Senior Ashley Wilson stole the ball back, and found Lexy Kresl, who brought the Buffs back to within two, at 56-54.

CU would fail to score again until the Miners' lead was at eight with just 32 seconds to play.

Swan finished a strong sophomore season with 15 points and seven rebounds against UTEP. Ashley Wilson added 10 points in her final game as a Buff.

Colorado finishes the season at 19-15, marking the non-20 win since 2010-11, Lappe's first season as head coach.

CU loses the grit, determination, and perseverance of the Wilson twins, along with the toughness and communication Hargis brought to the middle of the Buffs' defense.

For her 2014 recruiting class, Lappe signed Brecca Thomas, a much-needed point guard out of the Houston area, and Zoe Correal, a post player from Los Angeles.

Roberson and Jen Reese, CU's two leading scorers, are set to return, as are Kresl, Swan, Jasmine Sborov - who was having a breakout season before a foot injury ended it, - Smith and Huggins.

Colorado's frontcourt is extremely deep, as are CU's options at the two and three positions, but the Buffs need to find a ballhandler. Whether that's Kresl - a more natural two guard, or Thomas, a true freshman - remains to be determined. If a reliable ballhandler emerges, an 14th NCAA Tournament berth will likely follow.