LEXINGTON, Ky. — Barring a heroic effort that would have put her team in position for an upset bid, University of Colorado women's basketball coach Linda Lappe simply wanted to see her team hold its own against one of the top programs in the nation.
It happened eventually, though far too late to make a difference, as the Buffaloes dropped an 86-61 decision Sunday afternoon against No. 13 Kentucky.
"I didn't think we competed in the first half at all," Lappe said. "It was our first big test and our first road game, and you put those things together and we looked a little bit scared coming out of the gates. Really until halftime.
"I do like how our team responded at halftime, though. We had a different aggressiveness. We were playing together. I questioned how well we were playing together in the first half. We looked like a bunch of individuals out there. In the second half, we came together."
Kentucky, a program that has earned six consecutive NCAA tournament berths, ran away from the Buffs in a hurry, using a 16-0 run midway through the first half to pull away and adding an 8-0 run to close the second quarter that gave the hosts a 42-21 edge at the break.
CU (2-1) committed 16 turnovers in the first half, which led to 16 points for the Wildcats.
After going 0-for-7 in a scoreless first half, senior forward Jamee Swan made 5-of-7 shots in the second half and finished with 12 points.
"I think we figured out what our flaws are and what we need to fix to become a high-powered team," Swan said. "We didn't come out with the fire that we wanted, but as the game went on we lost our fear of the other team."
Freshman guard Kennedy Leonard turned in another strong game, leading CU with 15 points and adding 10 assists — just two fewer than she compiled in the first two games combined. Leonard also went 3-for-4 from 3-point range after entering the game with a 1-for-6 mark from beyond the arc.
Junior forward Zoe Beard-Fails put together what Lappe described as "the best game I've seen her play in a Buffalo uniform," finishing with 12 points, five rebounds and a 5-for-6 mark from the floor before catching an elbow along her eyebrow that left her bleeding on the Memorial Coliseum floor.
Beard-Fails received stitches after the game but is not expected to be sidelined when CU hosts UMass Friday night in the opener of the Omni Classic.
"Individually we're good, but we're not good enough to beat Kentucky," Lappe said. "As a collective unit, we have a lot more talent together. What we got out of it was that we've got to get better defensively."
No. 13 KENTUCKY 86, COLORADO 61
Thomas 0-2 0-0 0, Leonard 6-13 0-0 15, Smith 2-6 0-0 4, Beard-Fails 5-6 2-4 12, Swan 5-14 2-2 12, Ellis 1-1 0-0 2, Robinson 2-10 0-0 6, Correal 0-0 1-2 1, Huggins 3-6 0-0 9. Totals 24-58 5-8 61.
Thompson 6-10 2-2 17, Morris 5-11 0-0 13, Akhator 5-9 0-1 10, Epps 3-12 0-0 7, Jennings 5-9 0-1 10, Camara 4-7 0-0 8, Jakubcova 1-3 0-0 2, Goodin-Rogers 3-4 0-0 9, Murray 2-5 5-6 10. Totals 34-70 7-10 86.
Halftime — Kentucky 42-21. 3-point goals — Colorado 8-14 (Leonard 3-4, Huggins 3-5, Robinson 2-4, Thomas 0-1), Kentucky 11-18 (Goodin-Rogers 3-3, Thompson 3-5, Morris 3-6, Murray 1-1, Epps 1-3). Fouled out — None. Rebounds — Colorado 38 (Swan 8), Kentucky 35 (Akhator 9). Assists — Colorado 18 (Leonard 10), Kentucky 24 (Thompson 7). Total fouls_Colorado 17, Kentucky 13. A_5,380.