VERMILLION, S.D. - Junior guard Chucky Jeffery had 23 points and 10 rebounds as Colorado held on for a 64-55 win over South Dakota in the second round of the 2012 postseason WNIT.
Colorado improves to 20-13 overall, its first 20 win season since 2003-04. The Buffaloes will host Villanova in a third round WNIT game on Thursday, March 22, at 7 p.m. at the Coors Events Center.
The Buffaloes led for all but the first 1 minute, 37 seconds of the game with the help of a dominant performance in the paint and on the glass. Colorado outscored the Coyotes 34-18 in the paint and held a commanding 47-25 edge on the boards. The Buffaloes had 19 rebounds on the offensive side alone, leading to an 11-2 advantage in second chance points.
"Our rebounding was fantastic," CU head coach Linda Lappe said. "That's been a staple of ours all year, outrebounding opponents and I thought we did a nice job getting extra possessions and making (USD) play defense for sometimes 60 seconds at a time."
All five of Colorado's starters had at least five rebounds. For good measure, sophomore Rachel Hargis came off the bench to grab seven boards.
Jeffery had an outstanding all-around game making 10-of-19 from the floor with three assists and three steals in addition to her eighth double-double of the season.
"I had to remain aggressive," Jeffery said. "I just kept finding different ways to score, attacking the rim, posting up...I was coming off screens at the top and they really weren't going after my shot so I just stepped up with confidence and knocked them down."
Colorado played good early defense on All-Summit League player Amber Hegge as USD's leading scorer (19.2 ppg) made just 1-of-5 from the field in the first 16 minutes of the game.
The Buffaloes turned that defense into some good offensive opportunities. Brittany Wilson had 10 points in the first half, scoring on a 3-point play to give CU a 24-14 lead. The next time down the floor Jasmine Sborov hit an 18-footer for CU's largest lead of the half.
Hegge then found some momentum, leading the Coyotes on a 9-0 run. Her 3-pointer at the top of the key cut CU's lead to 26-23 with 2:14 remaining.
Jeffery ended that run with an acrobatic layup and then, after a jump ball with 1.3 seconds left, scored at the buzzer to give the Buffaloes a 30-23 lead at the break.
The Buffaloes had three early second half turnovers which prompted a timeout from coach Lappe. Hegge hit one free throw out of the timeout, trimming CU's lead to 32-26, but Jeffery responded with five straight points and assisted on a Brittany Wilson transition bucket to push the Buffs' lead back up to double digits.
Hargis then went to work on the glass. She had four offensive rebounds, all in the second half and scored three straight points off her hard work as the Buffaloes built a 16-point lead (44-28) with 13:50 remaining.
South Dakota (23-8) started to whittle away at the Colorado lead. Hegge, who finished with a team-high 20 points, converted a conventional 3-point play and Alexis Yackley hit a 3-pointer to cut the Buffaloes advantage to single digits.
Colorado kept the Coyotes at arms length, again by crashing the boards, Hargis and Ashley Wilson combined for three offensive rebounds on the same possession and a Wilson put back gave CU a 53-42 advantage.
South Dakota made one last push. Roche started an 11-5 run with a 3-pointer which put USD within five at 58-53 with under a minute left. Colorado calmly hit 5-of-6 free throws down the stretch, including four straight from Lexy Kresl. Kresl scored all nine of her points in the second half.
Lappe noted the 20-win season "...means a lot. It was one of our goals coming into the season. It's a big milestone for us. For us to get to that barrier, and get past it, it's huge for us as we keep going forward.
"We stayed together tonight," Lappe said. "That's something we continue to get better at as the season moves along. In an environment like this, the other team is going to make some runs and we just have to make sure that we go out there and do what we want to do."