“We knew coming out here that this was going to be a very good test for us,” Cardinals coach Jeff Walz said. “We were aware that Arielle Roberson is a big-time post player and Chucky Jeffery is a great point guard and I felt from film that they were the best overall team we had played.”
Colorado justified Walz’s concerns.
Jeffery had 22 points and seven rebounds, and Roberson added 13 points as the Buffaloes beat Louisville 70-66 on Friday night.
Jen Reese added 11 points and sealed the win with a rebound basket for Colorado (9-0), which beat a top 10 team for the first time since defeating No. 2 Stanford in the round of 16 during the 2002 NCAA tournament.
“We expect this outcome,” Colorado coach Linda Lappe said. “I know on paper it might seem to be unexpected, but this is what we expected.”
Historically, the Buffaloes haven’t played well in these sort of games. They are only 62-142 against ranked opponents.
But this is a different Colorado team. The Buffaloes are 9-0 for second straight year and fourth time overall.
“We weren’t intimidated,” Jeffery said. “We can’t afford to be intimidated.”
Louisville was missing sophomore forward Sara Hammond because of a death in her family. Hammond, who is averaging 11.2 points and a team-leading 7.8 rebounds, didn’t travel with the team.
Antonita Slaughter paced Louisville (9-2) with 19 points. Shawnta Dyer had 14 points for the Cardinals, who finished 3 for 19 from 3-point range and lost for the second time in three games.
“We had our chances in the second half,” Walz said. “We just didn’t take care of things.”
The Cardinals trailed by six at halftime, but dug in defensively to hold Colorado scoreless for nearly 5 minutes at the start of the second half. Their offense couldn’t take advantage, though, managing only two baskets by Dyer during that same stretch before Roberson sank two free throws to make it 38-34.
Dyer got Louisville as close as 41-40 with a rebound basket with 14:01 left, but the Cardinals couldn’t get over the hump. Jeffery put Colorado ahead 48-43 with four straight free throws before Slaughter answered with a 3-pointer.
The Cardinals managed only a free throw by Jude Schimmel over the next 3 minutes as Colorado outscored Louisville 12-3 to build the lead to 60-51.
Slaughter closed the gap to 68-66 with a basket. Brittany Wilson missed both free throws with 11 seconds left, but Reese got the rebound off the second miss and put the ball back up to seal the win.
“Rebounding was our biggest problem tonight,” said Slaughter, pointing to a 44-32 rebounding edge for Colorado. “We were told to beat this team, we had to rebound and you saw what happened at the end.
“It wasn’t just that play,” she added. “During the whole game we missed a couple of missed shots.”
Outhustled and outrebounded 19-12, Louisville trailed 36-30 going into the break. Shelby Harper’s two free throws put the Cardinals ahead 8 minutes into the game but Colorado came roaring back, with Jeffery and Lexy Kresl making 3-pointers to give the Buffaloes a 23-16 lead.
Jeffery scored on a baseline drive and a 3 to make it 30-22. Louisville got the deficit down to four points, the last time on Slaughter’s two free throws before a layup by Rachel Hargis pushed Colorado’s lead back to six at halftime.
The Buffaloes had a 10-2 scoring edge on second-chance points.
“It was game of missed boxouts,” Dyer said. “There were too big boxouts that we weren’t able to get.”