• Jeremy Papasso / Staff Photographer

    Colorado's Mya Hollinshed takes a shots over Samford's Natalie Armstrong during the Buffs' nonconference home game Thursday at the CU Events Center. CU improved to 10-1 with a blowout victory. Visit BuffZone.com for more photos.

  • Jeremy Papasso / Staff Photographer

    Colorado's Peanut Tuitele goes up for a shot during Colorado's 81-39 victory against Samford on Thursday at the CU Events Center.

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Fast break

What went right: For the second game in a row, the Buffs put together a complete effort. They dominated the boards, limited turnovers and shot lights out in the second half to pull away.

What went wrong: During the final 7:45 of the first half, CU went 1-for-18 from the floor, but their 19-point lead slipped on to 13 going into the half.

Star of the game: Emma Clarke. The freshman had a season-high 12 points and pulled down three rebounds.

What’s next: The Buffs will take a 10-day break before opening Pac-12 play Dec. 30 at home against Utah.

It was difficult to tell on Thursday night whether Emma Clarke’s wide smile was due more to her performance on the court or the fact that she made it through her first semester of college in the classroom.

Either way, the freshman enjoyed her best game of the season in helping the Colorado women’s basketball team to an 81-39 rout of Samford at the CU Events Center.

“It was a relief,” said Clarke, who led all scorers with 12 points. “All my courses were super hard. To finish off all the finals and then finish with something I love to do, it was great.”

Clarke and the Buffaloes (10-1), who have won four in a row, capped non-conference play in style by holding a second consecutive opponent under 40 points — something they had not done since early in the 2010-11 season.

“I love the fact that we’ve played back-to-back really complete, good basketball games, where everybody has had a chance to contribute,” head coach JR Payne said. “We saw a lot of productivity off the bench tonight, which was fantastic. Just overall great team effort. It feels good going into Pac-12 play on that note.”

Clarke, who went 5-for-9 from the floor, added three rebounds and two steals, while fellow freshman Peanut Tuitele posted her first career double-double, with 10 points and 12 rebounds.

“It’s a big deal but to me, the numbers don’t matter,” Tuitele said. “It’s the outcome and how we played and that we executed the way the coaches wanted us to and we were disciplined on defense, because conference is coming around and it’s a big deal.

“Execution and being disciplined was my big goal; not the numbers.”

CU’s execution was solid throughout, with the exception of a cold shooting stretch in the second quarter. The Buffs out-rebounded Samford (4-9) by a 48-31 margin, had just 11 turnovers while forcing 24, and shooting 45.3 percent from the floor.

The Buffs made 19-of-31 shots (61.3 percent) in the second half, when they outscored the Bulldogs 44-15.

In addition to Clarke and Tuitele, Quinessa Caylao-Do and Mya Hollingshed both had 11 points, while Annika Jank added nine.

“Before the game, coach J said, ‘Just try your hardest; we’re going to go out and get a good win before Christmas,’ and that’s exactly what we all did,” Clarke said. “We just fought through it and we just really had fun on the court. We had good bench energy and it was just fun to be out there.”

Notable

CU had 19 steals, with four players having three each. … The Buffs out-scored the Bulldogs 50-10 in the paint. … This is CU’s second 10-1 start in Payne’s three seasons.

Colorado 81, Samford 39

At CU Events Center

SAMFORD (4-9)

Fitzgerald 1-7 0-0 2, Armstrong 2-5 0-0 4, Serup 3-5 0-0 9, Omar 0-4 0-0 0, Williams 1-6 0-0 2, Allen 2-6 0-0 5, Crozier 0-0 2-2 2, Hill 3-7 1-2 9, Battle 0-4 3-4 3, Woolard 1-5 1-2 3. Totals 13-49 7-10 39.

COLORADO (10-1)

Tuitele 4-6 2-2 10, Caylao-Do 5-10 1-2 11, Robinson 4-12 0-0 8, Leonard 0-8 3-4 3, Hollingshed 5-11 0-0 11, Diop 1-1 0-0 2, Swartz 3-8 1-1 7, Jank 4-6 0-0 9, Volcy 1-1 0-0 2, Carter 1-2 1-2 4, Clarke 5-9 0-1 12, Finau 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 34-75 8-12 81.

Score by quarters:

Samford                 11 13 3 12  — 39

Colorado                24 13 18 26  — 81

3-point goals – Samford 6-25 (Serup 3-5, Hill 2-4, Allen 1-5, Fitzgerald 0-4, Williams 0-3, Omar 0-2, Battle 0-2), Colorado 5-22 (Clarke 2-5, Hollingshed 1-4, Carter 1-2, Jank 1-1, Leonard 0-3, Swartz 0-3, Caylao-Do 0-2, Robinson 0-2). Rebounds – Samford 31 (Armstrong, Omar 5), Colorado 48 (Tuitele 12). Assists – Samford 10 (Omar, Hill 3), Colorado 18 (Leonard 7). Steals – Samford 4 (4 players with 1), Colorado 19 (four players with 3). Turnovers – Samford 24, Colorado 11. Total fouls – Samford 13, Colorado 15. Fouled out – None. A – 1,530.

Contact staff writer Brian Howell at howellb@dailycamera.com or twitter.com/BrianHowell33.