VERMILLION, S.D. -- Chucky Jeffery was dialed in offensively, and the Buffs were tough on defense.

Jeffery scored 23 points to lead the Colorado women's basketball team to a 64-55 win over South Dakota on Monday night in the second round of the Women's NIT at the DakotaDome.

Throughout the night, CU's top scorer hit big buckets, the last being a layup with 24 seconds left that sealed the win.

"I just stepped up with confidence and was knocking them down," Jeffery said on KKZN AM-760 radio after the game.

It wasn't just her shot that was on. Jeffery had her eighth double-double of the season, finishing with 10 rebounds. She also had three assists and matched her season-low with one turnover (just the third time she's had fewer than two all year).

"We came in, it was a crazy atmosphere," Jeffery said. "I knew I had to remain calm so my team remained calm. I just had to remain aggressive in my play, but I had to stay mentally focused. When I don't turn the ball over, I'm extremely focused."

Her teammates were focused, too, as CU (20-13) clinched its first 20-win season since 2003-04.

CU moves into the third round of the WNIT for the second year in a row. The Buffs will host Villanova (19-14) on Thursday at 7 p.m. at Coors Events Center.

Brittany Wilson added 15 points for the Buffaloes, who are 4-1 in their last five games. Lexy Kresl added nine points, including four crucial free throws late in the game.


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South Dakota (23-8), which had won 13 straight at home and finished 16-2 at home this season, took its only lead of the game in the first minute on a 3-point play by Amber Hegge to give the Coyotes a 3-0 lead.

Colorado followed with a 13-0 run and never trailed again. CU led by as many as 12 in the first half as it pushed the pace against the defensive-minded Coyotes.

"In the first half when we went on that run, we really pushed the ball," CU head coach Linda Lappe said. "Starting off the second half, we did the same thing. That really helped us down the stretch to be able to build that lead."

South Dakota never would go away quietly, though.

After CU built a 26-14 lead, the Coyotes went on a 9-0 run to close the gap to 26-23. Jeffery then scored four straight points, including a buzzer-beating jumper to close the half with a 30-23 lead.

A 3-pointer by Jeffery sparked a 12-2 CU run as the Buffs took their biggest lead, 44-28 with 13:42 to play.

Once again, South Dakota responded.

Hegge, who finished with 20 points, scored seven points to cut CU's lead to 46-37 and the Coyotes continued to whittle at the deficit. A bucket by Annie Roche pulled South Dakota within 55-49 going into the final three minutes.

Then, Tempestt Wilson hit a pair of free throws to cut the CU lead to 58-53 with 50 seconds to play.

That's when Kresl came through with four consecutive free throws and then Jeffery hit her final bucket.

"I thought we could have done that (pushed the tempo) a little bit more toward the ends of the game, but we had a lead and we wanted to make sure we took our time and got what we wanted to get," Lappe said.

CU dominated on the glass, outrebounding the Coyotes 47-25 and did a nice job defensively on Hegge. Although she had 20 points, she made just six of 16 shots.

"We knew she was going to be the focal point," Lappe said. "We knew we had to do a great job on her."

The Buffs also got key stops when they needed them. South Dakota didn't score a field goal in the final three minutes.

"As soon as they went on a run, we recognized it," Jeffery said. "We came together and were like, 'We've got to get stops.' We didn't want to give them too much momentum. We just had to regroup."

They did and Lappe's crew is now 5-1 in WNIT play over the past two seasons, including 2-0 on the road.

"Not very many people have come in here and won," she said. "You can see why. The environment was great; a lot of great fans and they were into it."

Now the Buffs have a chance to play again in front of their fans.

"I'm excited," Jeffery said. "Villanova is a pretty good team and I'm pretty excited to get them on our home floor. We're ready."

Notable

CU finished with a season-low nine turnovers, one game after a season-high 27. It was just the third time in 67 games under Lappe that CU finished with fewer than 10 turnovers. ... Each of CU's starters finished with at least five rebounds. ... Jeffery had her highest point total since a 30-point effort against Idaho on Dec. 4. ... Freshman Esther Lee played a season-high nine minutes.

Colorado 64, South Dakota 55 COLORADO (64)

MIN FG 3PT FT Rb PF TP

MM-Peck 25 0-2 0-2 0-0 5 4 0

Seabrook 24 1-2 0-1 0-0 5 1 2

B. Wilson 34 5-13 1-5 4-5 5 1 15

Sborov 17 4-6 0-0 0-0 5 4 8

Jeffery 36 10-19 1-2 2-3 10 1 23

Kresl 28 2-9 1-6 4-4 2 1 9

Lee 9 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0

A. Wilson 10 1-1 0-0 0-2 3 0 2

Hargis 17 2-10 0-0 1-2 7 2 5

Team 5

Totals 200 25-62 3-16 11-16 47 14 64

Assists (7): Jeffery 3, B. Wilson 2, Seabrook, Sborov.

Steals (5): Jeffery 3, A. Wilson, Malcolm-Peack.

Turnovers (9): A. Wilson 3, B. Wilson 2, Kresl, Lee, Seabrook, Jeffery.

Blocked shots (4): A. Wilson, Malcolm-Peck, Jeffery, Hargis.

SOUTH DAKOTA (55)

MIN FG 3PT FT Rb PF TP

Wilson 29 4-11 0-2 4-4 3 1 12

Yackley 37 2-7 1-3 0-0 5 1 5

Roche 40 5-8 2-2 2-2 2 2 14

Hegge 40 6-16 1-1 7-8 7 4 20

Boss 38 1-5 0-0 0-0 5 3 2

January 1 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0

Stewart 14 1-2 0-0 0-0 0 2 2

Knudson 1 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0

Team 3

Totals 200 19-49 4-8 13-14 25 13 55

Assists (8): Yackley 3, Hegge 3, Roche, Boss.

Steals (4): Yackley 2, Roche, Hegge.

Turnovers (8): Wilson 4, Roche 2, Hegge, Boss.

Blocked shots (8): Boss 4, Hegge 3, Stewart.

Halftime score: Colorado 30, South Dakota 23.

Technical fouls -- None.

Attendance -- 1,569.