The Colorado women's basketball team finally had time to work on their full-court pressure defense this week.
Good thing, because on Saturday afternoon, the Buffaloes needed it.
With her team trailing in the second half, CU coach Linda Lappe employed a pressure defense and that was the catalyst to the Buffaloes pulling away for a 72-60 win against Presbyterian at Coors Events Center.
"The press is what ultimately won us that game," said junior Lauren Huggins, who had 16 points. "It allowed us to get more defensive intensity. We got our hands on more loose balls. And, when we got into the half-court defense, we saw our intensity pick up. We were moving together, like we were in the press."
Huggins and Jamee Swan both scored 16 points, but it was CU's 13 steals and 19 forced turnovers that allowed the Buffs (5-5) to even their record.
Lappe didn't expect to need that press against the underdog Blue Hose (4-6), but Presbyterian built a four-point lead with six minutes to play in the third quarter.
"I wanted to get stops in the half court, for sure," Lappe said. "We were fouling too much in the first half, we were getting beat off the dribble far too much in the first half."
With a week off since the last game, Lappe had a chance this week to work on their press, and the results were good in practice.
"We haven't used it a whole lot, we haven't practiced it a ton," Lappe said. "We had it in case of emergencies. We had time this week to work on it ... and it looked really good."
It looked good on Saturday, too.
Presbyterian had nine turnovers in the third quarter, eight of those against CU's press in the last six minutes of the quarter.
In all, CU scored 24 points off of Presbyterian's 19 turnovers.
"It was probably one of our best games as far as creating turnovers and then turning those turnovers into scores," Lappe said. "Our press won us the game tonight, and what our press did was really created some easy baskets for us and helped us get some stops."
On the offensive end, Swan connected on three consecutive buckets to kick-start a 15-2 surge for the Buffs. Huggins drained back-to-back 3-pointers during that stretch, which turned a three-point deficit into a 10-point lead.
From there, the Buffs never trailed and kept the Blue Hose at bay.
"We had so much energy that we were all over the place (early on)," Swan said. "We just needed to focus in. When we focused in, it was good energy."
Swan became the 28th player in program history to hit the 1,000-point mark for her career. She now has 1,002. ... Swan had a game-high 11 rebounds, giving her the 12th double-double of her career. ... Huggins' 16 points tied her career high. ... CU matched its season high with 13 steals. ... Sophomore Brecca Thomas had 10 points and four assists off the bench.
CU 72, Presbyterian 60
At Coors Events Center
Walker 2-6 4-4 10, Wagner 2-6 0-0 5, Storey 1-4 0-0 2, Kelly 1-1 0-0 2, Miles 2-6 4-6 8, Clifton 3-6 2-2 8, Petty 5-12 3-4 16, Talley 0-0 0-0 0, Reffner 0-1 0-2 0, Virola 4-4 0-0 9. Totals 20-46 13-18 60.
Beard-Fails 2-6 0-0 4, Swan 7-15 2-4 16, Leonard 1-7 2-4 5, Smith 2-3 3-3 8, Huggins 5-10 2-2 16, Ellis 2-5 2-2 6, Robinson 0-3 5-6 5, Watts 1-1 0-0 2, Thomas 4-5 1-1 10, Correal 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 24-55 17-22 72..
Score by quarters:
Halftime — Tied 36-36. 3-point field goals — Presbyterian 7-20 (Petty 3-10, Walker 2-3, Wagner 1-1, Virola 1-1, Storey 0-2, Miles 0-1, Clifton 0-1, Reffner 0-1), Colorado 7-15 (Huggins 4-8, Smith 1-1, Thomas 1-1, Leonard 1-5). Rebounds - Presbyterian 29 (Wagner 6), Colorado 34 (Swan 11). Assists - Presbyterian 11 (Kelly 3), Colorado 18 (Leonard 7). Total fouls - Presbyterian 22, Colorado 20. Fouled out - Kelly. A - 1,647.
What went right: The Buffs cranked up its full-court press defense in the second half and that sparked a 15-2 run that changed the game.
What went wrong: CU struggled early on, especially on defense, and trailed for a good chunk of the first half.
Star of the game: Jamee Swan. She had 16 points and 11 rebounds to key the Buffs' victory.
What's next?: CU will visit Wyoming on Monday at 7 p.m.