Fast break

What went right: The Buffs were dominant defensively, holding SMU to a .321 mark from the floor and turning 31 Mustangs turnovers into 31 points.

What went wrong: CU did have some trouble against SMU's superior height, getting outrebounded 49-39. However, CU still posted an 11-10 edge in second-chance points.

Star of the game: Haley Smith. The senior knocked down a career-most five 3-pointers and finished with a career-best 26 points. Smith matched a career-high with four blocked shots and also recorded three steals.

What's next: CU will try to match last year's win total in game No. 7 at home Wednesday at noon against Southeastern Louisiana.

According to first-year head coach JR Payne, one of the catalysts of the unexpected start being put together by the Colorado women's basketball team has been the Buffaloes' ability to find a different player to lean on in each game.

On Saturday it was Haley Smith's turn.

The senior wing player put together a career-best scoring effort against SMU at the Coors Events Center, powering the Buffs to a 67-50 win in the championship game of the Omni Classic.

The winner of just seven games last season, CU moved to 6-0 and will be heavily favored to match last year's win total in game No. 7 at home Wednesday afternoon against Southeastern Louisiana.


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"The consistency that we're showing at both ends of the floor, to have multiple people be able to score the basketball, for me as a coach is really exciting," Payne said. "I'm really proud of our effort and I'm really excited to win another ball game and keep on getting better."

Smith knocked down a career-high five 3-pointers, finishing 5-for-7 from long range while posting a career-best 26 points. Smith matched a career-high with four blocked shots and also recorded three steals.

Smith opened the scoring with a 3-pointer and the Buffs never trailed afterward, building a 34-16 halftime lead. Smith shot 10-for-17 overall.

"I think I just had teammates who found me when I was open," Smith said. "I didn't create a lot of those shots. People found me when I was open and I was able to knock them down. I think a lot of the credit goes to people being able to find me when I was open. People driving, penetrating, and kicking out to shooters."

Though CU initially had some trouble with SMU's superior height — the Mustangs finished with a 49-39 rebounding advantage — the Buffs' swarming, quick-handed defense proved too much for SMU to overcome. CU harassed SMU into a .321 percentage from the floor (17-for-53) while collecting 19 steals and forcing 31 turnovers. The Buffs turned those SMU giveaways into 31 points.

"I think that was the difference in the game tonight, our ability to defend, be aggressive, create turnovers, create easy offensive opportunities," Payne said. "These guys just really bought into what we're trying to do defensively and it paid off big-time.

"Thirty-one turnovers is huge. We'd love to do that consistently."

SMU used a 7-0 burst at the end of the third quarter to trim CU's lead to 11 points heading into the fourth quarter, but minutes later the Buffs answered with a 9-1 run that sealed the ninth 6-0 start in the program's history.

Smith's effort Saturday earned her the Omni Classic tournament MVP honor, and she was joined on the all-tournament team by sophomore guard Kennedy Leonard, who recorded 13 points, seven assists, and four steals against SMU.

Reserve forward Monica Burich recorded her second straight double-digit scoring effort off the bench, finishing with 11 points and six rebounds.

"A huge thing is that we're playing for each other," Leonard said. "We're all playing for each other. I know everybody has my back and I have their back. We all know our roles and are going our roles to the best of our abilities. Having trust in each other and the coaching staff is a huge thing."

Pat Rooney: rooneyp@dailycamera.com or twitter.com/prooney07

Colorado 67, SMU 50

At Coors Events Center

SMU (4-2)

Froling 2-5, 7-12 10, Bradshaw 1-6 0-0 2, Perry 1-4 2-6, Adams 3-12 5-8 11, Bolton 2-7 0-0 5, Reese 2-8 0-0 5, Degar 0-0 0-0 0, Thomas 5-8 0-0 10, Mickens 1-3 0-0 2. Totals 17-53 14-26 50.

Colorado (6-0)

Ellis 1-3 1-4 3, Correal 1-3 0-0 2, Robinson 2-6 2-2 6, Leonard 5-14 2-3 13, Smith 10-17 1-2 26, Caylao-Do 0-9 0-0 0, Watts 0-0 0-0 0, Jones 0-1 0-0 0, Freeman 3-10 0-0 6, Thomas 0-2 0-0 0, Burich 4-6 2-2 11, Beard-Fails 0-0 0 0. Totals 26-71 8-13 67.

Score by quarters:

SMU (4-2) 10 6 19 15 — 50
Colorado (6-0) 22 12 12 21 — 67

3-point field goals — SMU: Bolton 1-4, Reese 1-4, Froling 0-1, Adams 0-2; CU: Smith 5-7, Leonard 1-6, Burich 1-2, Caylao-Do 0-5. Total fouls — SMU: 15; CU 24. Fouled out — Correal. Technical fouls — None.