Thanks to a strong second-half surge, the Colorado women's basketball team secured a 57-43 Pac-12 Conference win over Arizona State Friday night at the Coors Events Center.
Senior guard Chucky Jeffery earned her 24th career double-double and her fourth of the season with 19 points and 16 rebounds. Her rebound total was also a team season-high.
Redshirt freshman forward Arielle Roberson earned a career-high 11 rebounds and contributed seven points of her own. Overall, Colorado out-rebounded Arizona State 47-31.
"Like any Pac-12 game, it was very physical down there," Roberson said. "It's always a war, it's always a battle ... But we knew we had to box out and then go get the rebounds, not just let them try to come to us."
Forward Jen Reese and guard Lexy Kresl, both sophomores, added eight points each.
Strong defense from both teams kept the score and shooting percentages low, as Colorado shot just 37.8 percent from the field but held the Sun Devils to 23.6 percent.
One of the goals for Colorado was to keep ASU players from scoring around the rim. The Buffs executed that game plan well, forcing the Sun Devils to shoot 8-for-26 from beyond the arc.
"It was a very solid night defensively for us," said Colorado head coach Linda Lappe. "Knowing how Arizona State likes to score, they score a lot of baskets and layups at the rim, so one of our goals was to give up less than 10 layups. I think we gave them only a couple of wide-open layups."
The Buffs and the Sun Devils looked evenly matched in the first half as the lead changed seven lead times, but two three-pointers by Arizona State's Jada Blackwell and Haley Videckis put the Sun Devils up 26-22 at the half. Neither team shot particularly well in the first half, as CU was 32.1 percent from the field and ASU was 36.0.
After intermission, though, the Buffs found the energy they had been lacking. With 14:30 remaining, Colorado went on a 13-0 run capped by a Lexy Kresl three-pointer to go up 12 (44-32).
"We have to start fast and finish strong, that's our motto. We say that before every game," Jeffery said. "We just kept going. Once you attack them, you keep them on their heels a little bit."
The Buffs held onto the momentum from that point on, gaining their largest lead of the game, 17, on a Jeffery free throw with less than a minute remaining.
"Even when they started hitting some outside shots, we stayed steady," Lappe said. "We didn't panic, and I thought that allowed us to pull away in the second half."
Jeffery said part of what allowed the Buffs to pull away in the second half was recognizing ASU's key scorers and guarding them with more intensity. Videckis, who was the Sun Devils' leading scorer in the first half with 11 points, was shut out in the second half.
"I thought we did a much better job on (Videckis) in the second half, she hurt us a lot in the first half," Lappe said. "We barred down and knew where she was. Arielle (Roberson) got the assignment on her for a large part, Jen (Reese) guarded her for a little while, and our guards understood where she was in the second half as well."
The Buffs also showed their strength off the bench once again, as three non-starters - Reese, sophomore Jasmine Sborov and junior Ashley Wilson - scored a combined 14 points on the night.
With the win, Colorado improves to 14-2 overall and 3-2 in the Pac-12. The Sun Devils fall to 10-7 overall and 2-3 in conference play.
On Sunday, the Buffs return to the Coors Events Center to take on Arizona at 2 p.m.
"As far as I know, (Arizona) is going to bring a lot of the same pressure that ASU does," Lappe said. "They have a really good All-Conference player in (guard) Davellyn White, and they have a lot of good players around her. I think they're much, much improved over last year, and we're just going to have to be ready on Sunday."