CU women's basketball preview

THURSDAY: The Colorado Buffaloes (20-13) host the Villanova Wildcats (19-14) in a 7 p.m. game at Coors Events Center in Boulder.

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

STORYLINES: This is the third round of the Women's NIT. ... The winner will face the winner of tonight's Missouri State at Oklahoma State game. ... CU is 9-3 all-time in the WNIT, including 7-3 in Boulder. ... The Buffs are 31-19 in postseason play. ... CU averaged 60.8 points per game, while Villanova averages 58.0 per game. ... The Wildcats will likely play without top scorer and rebounder Laura Sweeney (14.4 ppg, 7.6 rpg). Sweeney injured her hand in Villanova's first-round win against American and is "extremely doubtful" for tonight, according to the team's sports information department. ... Villanova is one of the top 3-point shooting teams in the country, averaging 8.2 successful 3-pointers per game. ... This is CU's first game against a Big East school since an 80-54 win over Seton Hall on Dec. 6, 2009, in Boulder. CU is 11-8 against the Big East. ... CU's Meagan Malcolm-Peck needs two 3-pointers to become the 12th Buffs to hit 80 in her career.

KEY STAT: This season, Villanova has made 269 3-pointers in 796 attempts (33.8 percent). By comparison, CU, which also shoots the 3 a lot, has 166 in 573 attempts (29.0 percent).

COACHES: Linda Lappe is 38-29 in her second season at CU and 87-65 overall. Harry Perretta is 617-392 in his 34th season at Villanova and overall.

PROBABLE STARTERS: Colorado - G Brittany Wilson, 5-7, So., 9.1 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 1.8 apg; G Chucky Jeffery, 5-10, Jr., 15.5 ppg, 7.6 rpg, 3.7 apg; G Jasmine Sborov, 6-1, Fr., 2.8 ppg, 2.9 rpg; G/F Meagan Malcolm-Peck, 6-2, Jr., 4.1 ppg, 4.3 rpg; F Julie Seabrook, 6-3, Sr., 7.2 ppg, 5.4 rpg. Villanova - G Rachel Roberts, 5-9, Jr., 8.7 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 56 3-pointers; G Jesse Carey, 5-10, Jr., 1.1 ppg, 1.9 rpg, 2.0 apg; G Lindsay Kimmel, 6-0, Sr., 4.1 ppg, 2.4 rpg; F Lauren Burford, 6-0, Fr., 8.4 ppg, 1.7 rpg, 62 3-pointers; F Taylor Holeman, 6-1, Fr., 2.1 ppg, 2.3 rpg.

SERIES: Villanova leads 3-1. CU won the most recent meeting, 64-58, on March 27, 2008, in the third round of the WNIT in Boulder. All four games have been decided by six points or less.

UP NEXT: : The winner will face either Oklahoma State or Missouri State in the WNIT quarterfinals.

There have been plenty of times this season when Brittany Wilson has come up big for the Colorado Buffaloes.

She had 22 points in a season-opening win against Northern Arizona. She had 13 and then 14 in wins over Weber State and Utah, respectively. She hit for 21 points in a win over Southern Cal.

It hasn't been until recently, however, that Wilson has given the Buffs (20-13) a steady threat on offense.

"It's been my focus since the beginning of this year, but it hasn't really gone so consistent," the sophomore guard said. "I feel like (lately) I've just been taking the shots they've been giving me and driving when I'm able to and it's just been working out."

In the past four games, during which CU is 3-1, Wilson has averaged 16.0 points per game while connecting on 45 percent of her shots. It's the first time in her career that she has scored in double figures in four straight games.

"She's doing a great job and she's scoring in a lot of different ways, which is good," CU head coach Linda Lappe said. "It makes her tougher to guard."

The Buffs need Wilson to keep it up as they continue their run through the Women's NIT. They host Villanova (19-14) Thursday night at 7 p.m. in the third round.

"I knew this year in order for us to win games I'd have to be a consistent scorer," Wilson said. "Better late than never."

Junior guard Chucky Jeffery has been CU's top scorer all year and currently posts 15.5 points per game. During CU's rough 1-9 stretch during the latter part of Pac-12 play, however, Jeffery didn't have a lot of help.

Even Wilson struggled mightily. After her 21-point game against Southern Cal, she averaged just 5.1 points over the next 10 games. Only once did she score more than seven in that stretch.

That lack of a second scorer hurt Jeffery, as well, but she's flourished right along with Wilson in the past four games, averaging 17.0 points on 47-percent shooting.

"Those two together make us a tough team to guard, especially from the guard position," Lappe said. "The more scorers we have the better for (Jeffery) because she feels more confident in not having to do everything.

"(Wilson) has been more and more consistent and that's something hopefully she can take into her junior year."

The change for Wilson? Not much really. She said there's maybe a little more focus or a little more work in the gym, but not much.

"It's just being aggressive more, I would say," she said.

Wilson has often looked for the outside shot before looking inside. Lately, however, she's taken the ball to the rim first. She's been to the free-throw line 20 times in the past four games after getting there just 27 times during the entire 18-game Pac-12 schedule.

"I like Brittany's aggressiveness right now and she's doing a great job of not settling for the outside shot," Lappe said.

It isn't just Wilson's scoring that has been stellar lately. She's averaging 4.5 rebounds (her season average is 3.1) and 2.0 steals (season average is 1.3) in the past four games, as well.

The scoring is what CU has really needed, however. With Wilson and Jeffery combining as a serious 1-2 threat, the Buffs are on a roll.

"It's been fun," Wilson said. "It's getting my confidence up. I knew I had it, but I just had to bring it out."