SEATTLE - Once they settled in, the Colorado Buffaloes could think about moving on. But that process took a while and required nearly every player on the roster Friday night in the second round of the Pac-12 Conference Women's Tournament.
Overcoming a first half of near and sometimes bad misses, fourth-seeded CU finally took control in the final 20 minutes and ousted fifth-seeded Washington 70-59 at KeyArena. It was the Buffs' 10th consecutive victory.
No. 18 CU (25-5) earned a Saturday night date with top-seeded Stanford (29-2) in the Pac-12 semifinals. The No. 4-ranked Cardinal, which defeated the Buffs twice during regular-season play, advanced by disposing of Washington State 79-60 in Friday night's first game.
No. 2 seed California (28-2) and No. 3 seed UCLA (24-6) play in Saturday night's first semifinal game. The CU-Stanford tip is scheduled for 9:30 p.m. MST (Pac-12 Network).
"There's only one way to look at a matchup with Stanford, and that's as an opportunity," said CU coach Linda Lappe. "We're going to look at it that way."
Stanford's two wins against CU were by 17 points (57-40) in Boulder on the opening weekend of Pac-12 play, then by 13 (69-56) at Stanford on January's last weekend. The Buffs believed they had improved from the first to the second meeting, and they believe they're even better now.
They'll probably need a better start than they had Friday night, when they were forced to overcome a first half that saw them miss 13 of their first 16 field goal attempts and go to their locker room to ponder their 28.9 percent (13-for-45) shooting.
"We knew we had to settle down, quit missing easy shots and quit fouling," said senior guard Chucky Jeffery, who scored 12 of her game-high 19 points in the second half. "Now we know how the floor feels, the jitters are gone and the first (game) is out of the way. Now it's about quick memory loss and going on to the next one - and it's a big one. We want to come out and play better Saturday."
Lappe used 11 players against UW (20-11) and not only did all of them score, all but one of them collected at least two rebounds and all but two contributed at least one assist. In addition to her 19 points, Jeffery also had a game-best four assists, while freshman forward Jamee Swan scored a career-high 15 points and hauled in 10 of CU's 58 rebounds - UW had 36 - in her 19 minutes of court time.
"I feel like I played the best I ever played," said Swan, who also blocked three shots. "It was really nice to be out there and not be afraid and have my teammates behind me."
All of them were. CU's bench outscored UW's 33-18. The Buffs had 25 offensive rebounds to the Huskies' 13, outscored them 40-18 in the paint and won the second-chance point duel 20-9.
"I like how we crashed the offensive glass," Lappe said. "We needed to get a lot of extra shots in this game and we did. We showed a lot of resolve in chasing down loose balls to get us extra shots."
But the season's script has featured defense and it did against UW. The Buffs had their opponents to 34.8 percent shooting - on pace to be a school-record - and they held the Huskies to 27.9 percent. UW made just 17 of its 61 shot attempts.
U-Dub was leading the conference in three-pointers made (8.2 a game). The Huskies hit seven treys Friday night, but their final two came in the last two minutes when they were trying to cut into a 10-point Buffs lead. CU's goal was to limit UW to five, the same number the Buffs allowed in their 68-61 win last month in Boulder.
Sophomore guard Jazmine Davis, the Pac-12 No. 2 scorer (19.5 ppg), hit two if UW's treys and finished with a team-best 17 points. In the first CU-UW meeting, Davis was held to nine points.
Lappe applauded Swan and freshman guard Kyleesha Weston, who contributed two points and six rebounds in 21 minutes. "I'm really proud of our players," Lappe said. "I thought we stepped up big at certain times . . . it seemed like whoever we brought into the game, we never missed a beat. That allowed us to get some rest so we could make a push at the end."
UW got as close as four (63-59) before Jeffery scored five consecutive points - a jumper and three of four free throws - and Swan sank two free throws with 13 seconds left to account for a 7-0 run to close out the game.
The Buffs were up 29-26 at the half, but it took them almost 18 minutes to get their first lead. Blame that on shooting that was somewhere south of frigid. UW led by as many as six (14-8) before the Buffs finally began finding their range - kind of.
Lappe said her team was "really excited to play. I think anytime that's the case you miss some easy shots . . . but I like how we stayed with it."
After a Jeffery three-pointer - her team's only trey of the first half - tied the score at 23-23, she hit a pull-up jumper from the free throw line following a UW turnover to give CU its first lead, 25-23, with 2:41 before intermission.
The final 20 minutes would belong to whoever wanted them, and based on the first 21/2 it appeared that was CU. After scoring the first eight points the Buffs surged to a 37-26 lead and were threatening to rip this one open.
It didn't happen. Talia Walton's trey started an 8-0 UW run and Davis' traditional three-point finished it, pulling the Huskies back to within three (37-34) with 16:09 remaining.
CU went back ahead by as many as seven points on an Ashley Wilson layup and maintained at least a four-point lead until a pair of free throws by Kristi Kingma pulled UW to 45-43 with 10:29 to play.
The Huskies could get no closer. Pulling ahead twice by 10 on a pair of layups by Swan in the final two minutes, the Buffs looked like they could begin making semifinal plans for Saturday.
But three-pointers by Heather Corral and Walton, who finished with 13, closed UW's deficit to 63-59 with less than a minute left. Jeffery answered with a layup and three of four free throws, and when Swan sank a pair with 13 seconds remaining, those semifinal plans to face Stanford were complete.
"We'll have to make sure we're ready and playing really well together," Lappe said. "They're the giants of the Pac-12 and we've got a shot at them."