BOULDER - More challenging times are ahead for the Colorado women's basketball team, but the Buffaloes appear to be steeling themselves for whatever comes their way.
Unbeaten CU (7-0) rolled past Colorado State 72-46 on Wednesday night in the first game of a women's/men's doubleheader at the Coors Events Center.
All things considered, it was a night for fun and frolic - but next week promises to bring the degree of difficulty to a higher level. The Buffs are off until Tuesday (7 p.m.) when they travel to the University of Denver (3-3), then host No. 8 Louisville (8-1) on Friday (7 p.m.) in their most significant challenge to date.
CU took command Wednesday night with an 18-4 first half run, led 37-17 at halftime and cruised past CSU (2-5) in the final 20 minutes. Buffs coach Linda Lappe used 12 players and nine of them scored, topped by Brittany Wilson's 13. Jen Reese and Jamee Swan contributed 11 each and Arielle Roberson added 10. CU's bench outscored CSU's 33-5.
“Sometimes these games are a little bit tough to play but I felt like we got better in that game at some different things and that’s what I like about our team," Lappe said. "For us, it’s all about us right now and us continuing to get better. It’s about us continuing to get better at some things or multiple things. I thought our players played hard and rebounded very, very well in this game."
Momentum gained from the Buffs' 69-62 comeback weekend win at Illinois obviously carried into mid-week. CU outrebounded CSU 59-26, outscored the visitors 30-18 in the paint and had 20 second-chance points to CSU's two.
The Buffs, who won 64-55 last season in Fort Collins, trailed once in the first half (2-0), but thereafter took control and led by 20 (37-17) at intermission. Following that two-point deficit, CU surged past CSU the 18-4 over the next 7 minutes to take a 16-point advantage (22-6) and never slowed down.
"We felt like we had to come out early, it’s CSU, it’s our rivalry game," Wilson said. "If we didn’t punch them in the mouth we knew they would try to punch us first. Who doesn’t get up for their rivalry game? We knew we had to come out strong in the beginning.”
During that spurt, Brittany Wilson scored eight of her 10 first-half points, while Reese added five. At the 11:45 mark, the Buffs were shooting 53.3 percent (8-for-15) from the field while holding the Rams to 21.4 percent (3-for-14).
"Going in we knew we had to have an inside presence," Reese said. "No matter if they were sagging in, double-teaming and stuff like that we had kick-outs, I think everyone in the post did a great job on either making the shot or seeing the open player."
After CU's opening run to go ahead by 16, CSU never got closer than 11 points for the rest of the half. And the Buffs kept pouring it on, leading by 20 twice before the halftime buzzer.
Roberson, a three-time recipient of the Pac-12 Conference freshman of the week award in the season's first four weeks, added eight points to the Buffs' halftime total. She entered the game with an 18.5 average.
CU's second-half goal likely was to not lose interest and allow a CSU run. Mission accomplished. A "B-Wil" three-pointer and a Rachel Hargis layup on a nice fast break assist from Chucky Jeffery fashioned a 25-point lead (42-17) before the second half was 2 minutes old.
Less than 8 minutes later, after treys on consecutive possessions by freshman Lauren Huggins, senior Meagan Malcom-Peck and another by Huggins, the Buffs had pushed ahead by 30 (61-31).
The second half was only half done, but it was time for the Rams to say goodnight.