Buffs counter late Miami surge, survive 67-61

CU guard Kennedy Leonard attempts to finish the basket after splitting two defenders. Feb. 17, 2017. (Abby Blake/CU Independent File)

The University of Colorado women’s basketball team hosted the Miami Hurricanes at the Coors Events Center on Saturday afternoon.

Colorado fought off a fourth quarter rally by the Hurricanes, who were ranked No. 24 in the USA Today Coaches Poll heading into the matchup, and won 67-61.

The Buffs benefited from big contributions from senior guard Brecca Thomas, who came off the bench and led Colorado with 16 points on 7-of-9 shooting from the floor.

Thomas was a spark for the Buffs in the second half, as she dropped 12 of her 16 points in the final two quarters.

The Buffaloes’ playmakers seemed to awaken in the latter half. Junior guard Kennedy Leonard scored just one of her 11 points in the first 20 minutes of play.

Nearly four and a half minutes passed in the first quarter before a point was scored. As the two-minute mark approached, the Buffs had built a 7-0 lead thanks to three-straight layups and a converted free throw by senior center Zoe Correal. Miami managed just a lone point in the quarter.

The Hurricanes put their lagging first quarter behind them though, as within just over three minutes, they had tied the game at 12. Most of the quarter was neck-and-neck, although Miami did outscore the Buffs, 23-17.

Two smart plays by Thomas put the Buffs up 20-16 with 4:02 left before halftime. The two teams would answer basket with basket and head to their locker rooms tied, 24-24.

The Buffaloes were bolstered from some ice cold shooting by the Hurricanes — they went just 9-for-32 from the floor in the first half. The Buffs made nearly 42 percent of their shots before halftime, nailing 10-of-24 attempts.

CU threatened to run away with things in the third quarter, as the Buffs went on a 14-0 run from about three and a half minutes in until the ‘Canes finally scored a long overdue basket at the 1:48 mark. At that point, Colorado had a 43-33 edge.

Six of those 14 points were contributed by freshman forward Annika Jank, who was second on the team with 14 points. Her 12 rebounds gave her a double-double in the win.

With a second left in the third quarter, Thomas nailed a final jumper to put Colorado up 50-36.

The deficit did not discourage Miami from mounting a respectable comeback. The Hurricanes came within four points of the Buffs late in the quarter, but some timely free throws by Leonard in the final minute stuffed any attempts to further reduce CU’s lead. She was 9-of-16 from the free throw line in Saturday’s win.

On the day, the Buffs shot just over 46 percent from the floor. They struggled from long range, going just 1-of-12 from downtown.

Up next for Colorado is the Rocky Mountains Hoops Classic, which the Buffs will host this upcoming weekend.

The Buffaloes take on Mississippi Valley State in the first round this Friday, Nov. 24. Tipoff is at 12 p.m. The final round of the competition will be played on Saturday at 2:30 p.m.

Contact CU Independent Head Sports Editor Justin Guerriero at justin.guerriero@colorado.edu and follow him on Twitter @TheHungry_Hippo.

Justin Guerriero

Head Sports Editor Justin Guerriero is a city boy from Pittsburgh, PA, who fell in love with the mountains upon touring CU Boulder for the first time prior to his freshman year. He is a diehard Pittsburgh
sports fan and covers whatever needs to be covered at the CUI. Justin is a junior majoring in broadcast production with minors in history and communication. Follow him on Twitter @TheHungry_Hippo

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