In an aggressive game that came down to the wire, the CU women’s basketball team defeated the University of Idaho Vandals 70-65 on Sunday.
The game was the Buffs’ true home opener after an exhibition win last Friday against Western State Colorado University.
Idaho scored the first point of the game, but after that, the Buffs moved took the lead for the rest of the game. That lead was never large, however. At the half, the Buffs held only a five-point gap at 31-26.
In the second half, the Buffs were able to widen the gap to 10 with 9:41 remaining, but the Vandals would pull closer and closer. With four minutes remaining, Idaho’s Alyssa Charleston scored on three free throws and Ali Forde made a layup to cut CU’s six-point gap to just one.
Colorado’s Ashley Wilson then made a key layup, and Jen Reese followed with two free throws to bring the score to 65-50, CU. With just 52 seconds remaining, the Vandals resorted to intentional fouls. The Buffs didn’t make enough mistakes at the free throw line to give the Vandals a shot, and by the final buzzer, CU had pulled out a 70-65 victory.
Colorado head coach Linda Lappe said she knew early on that the game would be close.
“There are some games where you feel like you should be ahead by a lot more, then you look up at the score and you’re only ahead by four or five, but this was not one of those games,” Lappe said. “It felt close the entire game, and I think it was good for our players to feel that. It puts a little more pressure on your players when teams hang tight … That kept us on our toes, and we had to be ready every single possession.”
Several Buffs came out strong on Sunday, including redshirt freshman forward Arielle Roberson. Roberson scored 16 points in her collegiate debut — that’s more than double the points her brother Andre, a standout forward on the men’s team, scored against Wofford College on Friday. Roberson also shined on defense, recording two blocks and five steals.
“I just wanted to come out and play like I know I can and show everybody what I can bring to this team,” Roberson said. “Of course, it’s my first game so that’s extra motivation to do well — and I don’t really like losing.”
Lappe said she was pleased with the way Roberson responded during key moments of the game.
“Arielle did some really good things,” Lappe said. “I think there was one moment in the second half after she came off the bench for the very last time, she came in and we really needed her to step up, and she did that. She had some offensive rebounds and some nice scores, and she gave us confidence.”
Junior guard Brittany Wilson was another a force on the court, leading CU in scoring with 18 total points. Wilson had the tough job of guarding Idaho’s Stacey Barr, who was second for the Vandals in scoring, for much of the game.
Wilson said she was pleased with her own effort, but she credited the entire team for pulling out the too-close-for-comfort win.
“I think the beauty of this team is that we’re actually so deep, so you never know who is going to step up and when,” Wilson said. “Arielle had a great game and put up 16, and other people contributed in the best way that they could. I think as long as all the girls take advantage of all the time they have out on the floor, it’s great for us.”
Wilson said that while she didn’t expect to play such a nerve-racking game, the team handled the challenge well.
“It was an early game, the first one of the year, and you never think your first game is going to be so close, but it was,” Wilson said. “We came together as a team and fought ‘till the end and came out on top.”
The Buffs head on the road next week to take on the University of Missouri, Kansas City on Sunday, Nov. 18. The game is set for 12 p.m. MST.
Contact CU Independent Sports Editor Caryn Maconi at Caryn.firstname.lastname@example.org.