Throughout Pac-12 play this year, the Colorado women's basketball team enjoyed some fun road trips.

Seattle, Phoenix, Oregon, San Francisco, Los Angeles.

Vermillion, S.D., isn't quite in that class, but the Buffs have the same mission tonight as they did everywhere else.

"It doesn't really matter where we go anyway, because we're just in the hotel," junior Meagan Malcolm-Peck said. "It'll be fun to get out and hopefully beat another team."

The Buffs (19-13) visit South Dakota (23-7) tonight in the second round of the Women's NIT. CU has never faced the Coyotes and never been to the DakotaDome.

University of Colorado’s Julie Seabrook, right, Meagan Malcolm-Peck, center, Chucky Jeffery and Lexy Kresl, left, listen as Head Coach Linda Lappe
University of Colorado's Julie Seabrook, right, Meagan Malcolm-Peck, center, Chucky Jeffery and Lexy Kresl, left, listen as Head Coach Linda Lappe goes over a game plan during a time-out while playing Northern Colorado during the first round of the 2012 Women's NIT tournament on Wednesday, March 14, at the Coors Event Center on the CU campus in Boulder. CU won the game 54-40. For more photos and video of the game go to www.dailycamera.com Jeremy Papasso/ Camera ( JEREMY PAPASSO )

"It's a tough road trip," head coach Linda Lappe said. "At the same time, it's good for our team. We've been in situations like this before and I think it's always good to have to play on the road in the WNIT because it makes you really appreciate your home games."

To get another game -- whether its at home or on the road -- the Buffs will have to get past a solid Coyotes team that is 16-1 at the DakotaDome this season. Included in that was a 73-48 rout of Northern Colorado, a team that CU defeated 54-42 in the WNIT first round on Wednesday.

"We know what's at stake," Lappe said. "We know we have to go up there and play well. They're a good team. They haven't lost very many on their home floor, so we're going to need ultimate focus."


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This is just the second time in 12 WNIT games that CU has had to travel and it's the first time the team has to travel by plane (the Buffs took a bus to Wyoming last year).

But, unlike past CU teams, this group has learned to play well away from home.

"I think we've done a pretty good job of establishing ourselves on the road," Malcolm-Peck said. "That's where we've struggled in the past. I think that's a big focus for us and it makes it even more special to win on the road because it's a little harder to do."

After a rough stretch of games late in the season, CU has played very well in its last four. They are 3-1 in those games and had a good performance in the one loss, to NCAA Tournament-bound California.

South Dakota has also played well, going 13-1 in its last 14 games.

The Coyotes are led by 6-foot-1 senior forward Amber Hegge. An all-Summit League player, she has averaged 19.2 points, 8.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 2.2 blocks. Lappe compares her to Oregon standout Amanda Johnson and Nebraska star Jordan Hooper.

"She's definitely a lot for most teams to handle," said Malcolm-Peck, who will likely have to spend at least part of her night trying to stop Hegge. "We've had some experiences with players like that. We just have to be ready for it and understand what we have to do and step up."

The Buffs feel ready for the challenge, not only to stop Hegge, but also to get past the Coyotes.

Inspired by their own success, as well as the success of the CU men's team, the Buffs aren't ready for the season to end.

"Everybody seems really focused and excited to keep playing," Malcolm-Peck said. "At this time of year, it's always an exciting time."

 

 

CU vs. South Dakota preview

MONDAY: The Colorado Buffaloes (19-13) visit the South Dakota Coyotes (23-7) in a 6 p.m. game at the DakotaDome in Vermillion, S.D.

BROADCAST: Radio on KKZN 760 AM, with Mike Rice doing play-by-play and Carol Callan with color commentary. A live video stream is available at usdcoyotes.com.

STORYLINES: This is the second round of the Women's NIT. ... The winner will face Villanova, which defeated Illinois State 58-55 on Sunday. ... CU is 8-3 all-time in the WNIT, including 1-0 away from Boulder. ... The Buffs are 30-19 in postseason play, including 2-6 when playing on an opponent's home court. ... The Coyotes have won 12 straight at the DakotaDome, dating back to a Dec. 29 loss to Oral Roberts. ... CU and South Dakota have three common opponents this year: Northern Arizona, Creighton and Northern Colorado. Both teams are 3-0 in those games; CU won those games by a combined 39 points, while South Dakota won them by a combined 41 points. ... South Dakota is in its fourth and final year of its transition from Division II. The Coyotes will be eligible for Division I championships next year. ... Senior forward Amber Hegge has led South Dakota in scoring 23 times. ... CU's Meagan Malcolm-Peck needs two 3-pointers to become the 12th Buffs to hit 80 in her career.

KEY STAT: In the past three games, CU has hit 71.8 percent of its free throws, making 18.6 per game on an average of 26 attempts. All those numbers are dramatically better than the season averages of 65.6 percent on 10.5 makes and 16.0 attempts per game.

COACHES: Linda Lappe is 37-29 in her second season at CU and 87-65 overall. Ryun Williams is 76-46 in his fourth season at South Dakota and 311-189 overall.

PROBABLE STARTERS: Colorado -- G Brittany Wilson, 5-7, So., 8.9 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 1.8 apg; ; G Chucky Jeffery, 5-10, Jr., 15.2 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 3.7 apg; G Jasmine Sborov, 6-1, Fr., 2.7 ppg, 2.9 rpg; G/F Meagan