Michelle Plouffe had a solid all-around effort with 13 points, five rebounds, five steals and four assists in Utah's first-ever Pac-12 game agaist Colorado.
Dec. 31, 2011
SALT LAKE CITY - Everything was playing out just as the Utes had hoped in their first-ever Pac-12 Conference women's basketball game Saturday afternoon at the Huntsman Center.
Their defense was forcing turnovers and holding Colorado well under 40 percent shooting from the field, helping them build a 10-point lead with a little over nine minutes to play.
Then, Utah's shots stopped falling--missing the last 14, in fact--as the Utes were outscored by the Buffaloes 20-4 to close out the game in a 58-52 setback.
Colorado, off to the third-best start in school history, remained undefeated at 12-0 overall.
Julie Seabrook scored a game-high 17 points for CU, which included a 4-for-6 effort from beyond the arc. Brittany Wilson finished with 14 points and Chucky Jeffery had 13.
"We did a good job of getting the ball inside to Taryn most of the time," said Ute head coach Anthony Levrets. "But, we only shot eight free throws, and normally when Plouffe and Taryn get 27 shot attempts you'd expect to shoot a few more free throws. We just didn't get to the free throw line tonight and it's a really big part of the game. You've got to get it down there a little bit more."
It was the first Pac-12 Conference game for both teams, who officially became league members back on July 1.
Colorado built a nine-point lead (20-11) midway through the first half and led by eight (31-23) with 2:31 left before halftime after a Seabrook 3-pointer.
Colorado came back to within 37-35 before Utah exploded with an 11-3 run. Rodrigues, who missed her first five 3-pointers, finally got a long one to go down and gave the Utes a 48-38 lead with 9:17 left.
However, that was the last field goal Utah would make the rest of the way, going 0-for-14 from the field after starting off the second half with a 9-for-15 effort.
Colorado, on the other hand, made five of its last eight shots, including a 3-pointer by Seabrook that rattled in as the shot clock expired with 1:06 left. That bucket capped off a 19-4 run that gave the Buffaloes a 57-52 advantage.
Utah, which entered the game ranked first in the Pac-12 in scoring defense, forced 14 turnovers that led to 17 points. But, it was their inability to contain Colorado on the boards that hurt them more than anything else.
The Buffaloes outrebounded Utah 41-30 and collected 15 offensive boards. Seabrook, Jeffery and Jen Reese each had seven boards to pace the effort.
"One of the things we stress around here is to guard, and we defended pretty well for the most part," said Levrets. "But then, finishing off plays defensively in that first half was really, really critical. They had nine offensive rebounds in the first half, and that turned into really, really long possessions for them offensively.
"We spent a lot of time on the defensive end of the floor, and it just takes your legs out of from under you. It's what we want to do to other people: have long possessions, and by the end of the game their legs [are gone]. That was a little bit reversed today."
"We will turn this into a positive," Levrets concluded. "This is a long season and it sucks to lose, but we will learn from it and do better."
Utah returns to action with a pair of Pac-12 road games next weekend, playing at Washington State (Thursday, Jan. 5) and Washington (Saturday, Jan. 7).