BOULDER - Given approval from a handful of media types, Linda Lappe briefly delayed her post-game press conference Sunday afternoon to watch the Denver Broncos defeat the Minnesota Vikings in the final 2 seconds.
"Unbelievable," said Lappe, referring to the Broncos - not her University of Colorado women's basketball team moving to 7-0 for the first time since the 1993-94 season.
If the Broncos are prospering during "Tebow Time," the Buffaloes are countering with "Chucky Time." Sunday's 68-59 win against gritty Idaho didn't slip into the "unbelievable" category, but neither was it as one-sided as CU's previous six wins this season.
Opening as frigid as the temperature outside the Coors Events Center, CU was forced to ratchet up its defense in the final 3:15, holding Idaho scoreless while closing out the matinee with a 10-0 run to post its seventh consecutive victory.
The Vandals (2-6) had taken a 59-58 lead on a layup by Ganeaya Rogers before Buffs junior point guard Chucky Jeffery reasserted herself, scoring seven of her career-best 30 points during CU's decisive late surge.
"Thank goodness she came to play," Lappe said of Jeffery, whose 10 rebounds gives her 14 career double-doubles, including four this season and three straight. "She did so many great things offensively and defensively . . . she played with a great pace today, she really came focused."
But Lappe expects that from her junior and senior players this time of year, when non-conference play is beginning to wind down and semester finals and the holiday break are looming.
"You need that kind of leadership," Lappe said - and Jeffery has been more than happy to provide it. Four nights earlier against San Francisco, she scored a then-career-best 26 points, and she carried the Buffs with 18 of her total Sunday during a cold-shooting first half that saw CU hit only three of its first 16 shots.
"I just played basketball . . . I didn't do anything special," said Jeffery, whose three consecutive double-doubles marked the first time that's been done at CU since Jackie McFarland accomplished it during the 2006-07 season.
Continued Jeffery: "I took what the defense gave me . . . my shot was on, and that was great. For a while I tried to get my teammates incorporated so we could have a little balance on the floor. Jen (Reese) stepped up big (with) some big shots down the stretch - so that was good."
Reese, a 6-2 freshman, scored 10 points and was the only other CU player in double figures. With 2:49 remaining, she hit a foul line jumper that put the Buffs back in front, 60-59, and opened the 10-0 closing run.
"She played solid," Lappe said of Reese, who also contributed six rebounds, an assist and a steal in 24 minutes. "She doesn't do anything flashy and that's OK . . . that's just what we needed from her."
The Buffs outrebounded the Vandals 48-39, getting 10 boards from senior Julie Seabrook to match Jeffery's total. But CU's 14 turnovers - eight in the first half - were converted into 20 points by Idaho. The Vandals also outscored the Buffs 30-26 in the paint. Idaho got 13 points from Keri Arendse and 12 each from Stacey Barr and Alyssa Charlston.
Jeffery and Reese said being pushed Sunday afternoon will be beneficial in the coming weeks.
"You get that adrenaline rush and you know you have to win," Reese said. "You play better; we all played better in that last three minutes as a team - and it was great."
Added Jeffery: "It teaches how to keep our composure when things aren't going our way, especially down the stretch. Basketball is a game of runs, and they kept coming back those last four minutes. We knew this was it so we had to bear down."
CU waited until the first half's final 2:43 to begin pulling away, outscoring Idaho 13-4 from that point until intermission to take its biggest lead, 42-33. The Buffs' run came courtesy of four three-pointers by Meagan Malcolm-Peck, Brittany Wilson and a pair by Jeffery, whose 7-of-10 field goal shooting was CU's only offensive highlight in the first 20 minutes.
The Vandals, whose most recent loss before coming to Boulder was at home against Pac-12 member Washington (66-49), trailed by five (7-2) in the first 4 minutes but rallied to take their first lead (10-9) on a trey by Barr with 11:07 left in the half.
Less than 2 minutes later, CU reclaimed the advantage on a three-point play by Jeffery and held it until Arendse hit a field goal and one of two free throws on the next Vandals possession to go up 24-22. That was Idaho's last lead of the half - but not the game.
The Vandals managed a pair of ties at 27-27 and 29-29 before the Buffs launched a three-point barrage to close out the half and temporarily take control.
CU opened the second half with a quick pair of turnovers, allowed Arendse a three-pointer and Charlston a pair of free throws. Suddenly, that nine-point halftime lead was cut to 42-38.
Over the next 6:11, the Buffs got treys from Malcolm-Peck and Jeffery and went ahead 50-42. But the Vandals didn't roll over, pulling to 53-50 on a three-pointer by Charlston, who then tied the score at 53-53 with a conventional three-point play with 7:46 remaining.
Arendse canned a pair of free throws to push Idaho ahead 55-53 - only CU's second second-half deficit of the season - but Brittany Wilson's three-pointer 30 seconds later pushed the Buffs back in front, 56-55, with 6:04 left.
The lead changed hands four times until Reese's short jump shot. Then, Jeffery hit both ends of a one-and-one and followed with a jumper, giving CU a five-point cushion (64-59) at the 1:23 mark.
An intentional foul sent Brittany Wilson to the free throw line with 58.8 seconds left, and after she sank one of two, Jeffery hit three of four in the next 15 seconds to put CU out of danger.
"We ended the game very, very strong," Lappe said. "Our last three minutes, defensively we finally buckled down and offensively we hit some key shots. And a lot of different people hit them . . . It was the first time we got to see our team in a close-game situation, and I really liked what I saw."
The Buffs continue their home stand with a game Thursday against the University of Denver (7 p.m., Root Sports).