PULLMAN, Wash. - Freshman Jen Reese recorded her first career double-double and Colorado fought back from a second half double-digit deficit for the second time in three road games to clip Washington State 57-56 Saturday afternoon at Beasley Coliseum.
Colorado improves to 13-1 overall and 2-1 in Pac-12 play as the Buffaloes hand Washington State its first league loss of the season (9-7, 3-1). The Buffaloes also erased a 10-point second half deficit in their 58-52 win at Utah on Dec. 31.
Reese, who had just six points combined in her first two Pac-12 games, scored 12 points and had a game-high 12 rebounds. The Buffaloes nearly had a double-double trifecta with Chucky Jeffery finishing with 12 points and nine rebounds and Julie Seabrook pitching in 11 points and nine boards.
Washington State's Jazmine Perkins, scored all of her game-high 15 points in the second half as her offensive explosion helped the Cougars build a 46-35 lead with 11:04 left in the game. Perkins scored WSU's first seven points as the Cougars began the period on a 22-12 run.
The Buffaloes had trouble with Washington State's aggressive defensive pressure, committing 22 turnovers, which led to 16 Cougars points. But Colorado was able to stay around by limiting Washington State to 25 percent shooting and by winning the battle on the glass, 53-40.
"We were really interested to see how our team was going to respond," said CU head coach Linda Lappe, whose team was coming off its first loss of the season, Thursday at Washington. "If we were going to let the loss affect us or if we were going to get our swagger back, our confidence back, and get back to playing Colorado basketball.
"Part of that is playing defense and rebounding and we came back with a great defensive effort and a great rebounding effort."
Shortly after WSU grabbed its big lead, the Buffaloes found an offensive rhythm. Reese found Meagan Malcolm-Peck cutting hard to the basket for the first of 12 straight points scored in the paint for the Buffaloes. Reese had four of her eight second half points during a 14-3 run that tied the game at 49-49 with 5:32. The Buffaloes shot 6-of-10 from the floor during that stretch where they crashed to the rim hard. Two of those misses were put back scores on offensive rebounds from Reese and Ashley Wilson.
"You have to give Washington State credit, they did a good job crashing the glass, but the key is we rebounded when we had to," Lappe said. "And we got some offensive rebounds as well, making sure it was even on both ends crashing the glass. Then we got some defensive rebounds we needed to and that was the difference in the game."
The Cougars were able to bounce back. Rosetta Adzasu, who had nine points and six steals, broke the tie with a conventional 3-point play. WSU then made four free throws by three different players to take a 56-50 advantage with 2:35 remaining.
But the Cougars wouldn't score again. Jeffery put back a Malcolm-Peck missed 3-pointer to cut the lead to two. Perkins missed on the other end and Lexy Kresl, held without a 3-pointer for the first time this season, grabbed the offensive board off a Jeffery miss to trim the WSU advantage to 56-54 with 1:22 on the clock.
Perkins missed two free throws for Washington State, giving the Buffaloes a chance to tie. WSU's defense clamped down, forcing a desperation jumper by Kresl as the shot clock ran out, but the freshman guard sank the bucket at the top of the key.
"We stayed composed and really executed down the stretch," Lappe said. "Our shots weren't falling (early), but we were getting good looks all game, but we were finally able to get to the rim and score. Then we did a good job at the defensive end late in the game."
After Brandi Thomas missed a jumper on the other end, Reese found Malcolm-Peck on hard cut similar to the play that started the Colorado rally. Malcolm-Peck was fouled by Adzasu, and made the first free throw to provide the final margin. Malcolm-Peck missed the second and WSU grabbed the rebound. The Cougars elected not to take a timeout and got Perkins a good look from the left elbow which rimmed out as time expired.
"We never give up on ourselves," Reese said. "We stay together as a team and that's what won the game."
Neither team could get much going early on the offensive end, but the Buffaloes were able to build a 14-7 lead thanks to Seabrook who scored seven of her 11 points in the opening minutes, including her seventh 3-pointer of the Pac-12 season.
But the Buffaloes also had 13 first half turnovers, which gave Washington State an opening. Although the Cougars shot only 24 percent in the first half, they took a 24-23 lead at the break .
Colorado returns home for the first time since Dec. 17 to play the Bay Area schools next weekend. The Buffaloes host California on Thursday, Jan. 12, at 7 p.m. and then welcome in the No. 4 ranked Stanford Cardinal on Saturday, Jan. 14, at 4 p.m. Saturday's game will be televised by ROOT Sports Rocky Mountain.