BOULDER, Colo. -- Relying on clutch free throw shooting and three steals in the final 5:55, the University of Texas out-scored Colorado 13-2 in the final six minutes to post a 69-64 victory in Big 12 women's basketball action Saturday afternoon at the Coors Event Center. Texas went seven-for-nine from the foul line in the final 1:40 to seal the win.
Texas is now 6-2 in its last eight games, and moves to 12-8 overall and to 6-4 in the Big 12. Colorado drops to 7-15, 2-8, as the Buffs were limited to 34 percent shooting in the game and had 21 turnovers.
Texas lost All-America junior Tiffany Jackson with 5:55 left in the game and trailing 58-52. On defense, Jackson, who had 11 points and six rebounds at that game mark, came down hard on her right ankle in contesting a shot and was carried to the locker room for further evaluation. She watched the final minutes of the game on crutches from the bench.
In Jackson's absence, the Longhorns used some tough defense and clutch performances from fifth-year senior Coco Reed and the rookie duo of Erika Arriaran (team-high 14 points) and post Mari Mergerson. Down by six when Jackson went out, Texas and Colorado traded baskets until the Longhorns took the lead for good, 63-62, when Reed stole the ball under Colorado's basket with the Horns down one, 62-61, and then connected on both free throws in a one-on-one situation.
After a CU timeout, the Buffs were then victimized by Reed again, who stole the ball. On UT's next possession, Mergerson hit a spinning 6-foot jumper to give UT a 65-62 edge with 41 seconds to go. On Colorado's next possession, Reed tied up the ball and quickly called a timeout. UT missed the front end of a one-on-one, and Whitney Law pulled the Buffs to within one again, 65-64, with 16 seconds to go on a pullup jumper.
Norman finished with 12 points, while Mergerson, playing in just her fourth Longhorn game after rehabbing a high school knee injury, added a career-high seven points.
Arriaran, who had missed the one-and-one opportunity seconds earlier, was fouled again. This time, the freshman sank both free throws for a 67-64 Texas edge with 10 seconds to go. On Colorado's next possession, Jasmina Ilic threw up a desperation 3-pointer which was an airball, and Nina Norman was fouled with 1.7 seconds left on the rebound. She sank both free throws for the final 69-64 margin.
Texas holds a seven-game win streak over the Buffs, dating back to the 1999-2000 campaign.
For Colorado, the Buffs were led by a game-high 20 points from Ilic and a double-double (17 points, 11 rebounds) from Jackie McFarland
For the game, Texas shot 41 percent from the floor (25-61) and had 17 turnovers. UT was 16-for-20 from the foul line, including a clutch 13-for-15 effort in the final half.
Colorado connected on 23 of 26 free throws in the contest. The Buffs out-rebounded Texas, 43-34.
Texas had taken a 33-27 lead into intermission. After UT pushed the lead to 10 (40-30), the Buffs mounted a charge and took the lead, 43-42 with 12:03 to play with a 13-2 run, capped by two Jackie McFarland free throws. It was CU's first lead since the first six minutes of the game. Colorado pushed its lead to six, 56-50 with 7:03 remaining behind timely free throwing. In the first 13 minutes of the second half, CU connected on 15 of 16 foul shots.
Both teams were slow to start the game. The two squads combining to shoot five-for-22 in the first eight minutes of play. Texas trailed, 9-4, going two-for-12 from the floor with six turnovers to start the game. The Longhorns then went on a 20-6 run, including 11 unanswered points as UT made 10 of its 14 field goal attempts in the span.
The run was highlighted by two layups, a steal and jumper from freshman guard Crystal Boyd and two 3-pointers from freshman guard Erika Arriaran. Another freshman, post Ashley Lindsey, converted on a hook shot which gave UT a nine-point edge, 24-15, with 5:46 to go.
Down 12 (32-20), the Buffs came back late in the first half, cutting the UT lead to six at intermission, 33-27. Colorado scored the final seven points of the half, as UT missed its last three shots and had two turnovers.
In the first half, Texas shot 43 percent (14-33), while Colorado hit 36 percent of its field goals (10-28). CU held the edge on the boards (21-18), while Texas was effective in turning the Buffs' 12 turnovers into points, as the Longhorns out-scored Colorado 10-2 in points off turnovers. The Longhorns committed eight turnovers in the period.
After playing three of its last four games on the road, Texas returns home for two games next week, beginning with Wednesday's (Feb. 8) Big 12 contest against Texas A&M in the State Farm Lone Star Showdown. The game will tip at 8 p.m. and will be televised on FSNSW (FOX Sports Net Southwest). The game also will air on KVET Radio (1300 AM) in Central Texas
Tickets for all Texas basketball games may be purchased at TexasBoxOffice.com or by calling 512-471-3333 or 1-800-982-BEVO. For charge-by-phone, call 512-477-6060. Tickets can be purchased in person at the Bellmont Hall Athletics Ticket Office (Mon.-Fri., 9 a.m-4 p.m. Central); at any Texas Box Office location, including the Frank Erwin Center (Mon.-Fri., 10 a.m.-6 p.m.); or at Austin area H-E-B stores.
Texas-Texas A&M ticket promotions include the following. It will be "UT Spirit Appreciation", and fans wearing UT apparel will receive one reserved seat ticket for $7. It also is "Junior High Night", where all junior high coaches and players wearing team jerseys can buy a $2 general admission ticket. The "Ultimate Assist" promotion is for half-price admission (mezzanine seating only) by redeeming specially-marked Sprite cans at the Erwin Center south box office one hour prior to tip-off.
For UT Students, the "Battle of the Dorms" promotion features Rudy's Bar-B-Q-Bucks for the dorm floor that has the most representation. (Prizes will be awarded pre-game.)
Texas Head Coach Jody Conradt
Her general statement: We sure made some huge plays down the stretch. This was a character-builder for us. Colorado played really well. They were disciplined and frustrated us to start the game. It was a real testament to our will to win to finish the way we did without Tiffany out there for the last six minutes. I hope that gives us a spark. It is really hard for us to make plays without Tiffany. As far as her injury, it is an injury to her right ankle. We will splint it up right now and get home and get it x-rayed and will know more in the next few days.
In the last few minutes, we got some great minutes from Erika (Arriaran), Coco (Reed) and Mari Mergerson. We all knew we had to make the plays, and these three were huge for us. Coco really had an impact late in the game. She started today for the first time this year, and I was hoping for an early impact from her. We didn't get that, but we did get a great impact from her in the last minutes. She's a fifth-year senior, and she gives us the utmost in the minutes she can play due to her (chronically-injured) knee.
Colorado Head Coach Kathy McMcConnell-Miller
Her general statement: We penetrated and went inside more in second half. We settled for 3's in the first half. In the second half, we took better high-percentage shots, got to the rim and got to the free throw line. Jackson went out, we adjusted and they made the plays. Give them credit. Reed had the steals, and Mergerson - I don't even know if she has been to the line yet this year and she just started to play for Texas, and she hits those huge baskets and a free throw. Texas is a really solid team and they made the adjustments without Jackson in the final minutes.