CU women's hoops preview
MATCHUP: Northern Colorado Bears (2-0) at Colorado Buffaloes (1-0)
GAME TIME: Thursday, 7 p.m., at Coors Events Center
BROADCAST: Radio — KKZN (760 AM).
COACHES: Colorado — Linda Lappe, sixth year (99-69; 149-105 career); Northern Colorado — Kamie Ethridge, second year (24-13).
LEADERS: Colorado — Scoring: G Kennedy Leonard, Fr., 18.0 ppg; Rebounding: G Alexis Robinson, Fr., 7.0 rpg; Assists: Leonard, 8.0 apg. Northern Colorado — Scoring: G Kyleigh Hiser, Sr., 15.0 ppg; Rebounding: G Kianna Williams, So., 5.5 rpg; Assists: G Katie Longwell, Jr., 5.0 apg.
NOTABLE: The Buffs are 10-6 all-time against the Bears and have won the last seven meetings. CU's last loss to the Bears came on Jan. 27, 1978, in Greeley. ... CU is 49-9 in regular season non-conference games under Lappe. ... UNC is coming off the best season in school history, but lost four of six primary starters from that team. ... UNC has five players from in-state high schools on the roster, including Legacy High graduate Courtney Smith.
It might be easy for the Colorado women's basketball team to look at what's coming up on Sunday.
That day, the Buffaloes will get their toughest test in non-conference, as they visit 13th-ranked Kentucky.
Head coach Linda Lappe isn't going to allow her team to focus on that one just yet, though. On Thursday night, the Buffs (1-0) will host Northern Colorado (2-0).
"It's an exciting game," Lappe said. "Any game against a team from the Front Range, we take a lot of pride in playing those teams. We want to make sure we have a good showing."
The Buffs had a good showing in their season opener on Saturday, defeating Loyola Marymount 92-81.
It was a nice in which dynamic freshmen guards Kennedy Leonard and Alexis Robinson combined for 31 points and 15 assists and junior Lauren Huggins took advantage of her first career start to pour in 16 points.
Lappe is hoping the Buffs can build off of that victory.
"Every game we want to get better," she said. "Ultimately, these non-conference games are to prepare us for conference. It's a progression. I thought we did some good things against LMU; now we want to get better against Northern Colorado, and that's going to allow us to get better at Kentucky."
Against the Bears on Thursday, Lappe wants to see her team to be good defensively and to get better on the glass. LMU out-rebounded the Buffs 43-42 and had 18 offensive rebounds.
"Those are two things we take a lot of pride in, so we should be better at those than we are," she said.
Finding success on defense, in rebounding and in scoring the ball will help the Buffs in their effort to beat the Bears. It'll also help them as they look ahead to Sunday.
"Gaining some confidence is important going into Kentucky," she said.
Brian Howell: email@example.com, on Twitter: @BrianHowell33.