No. 3 Nebraska 89, Colorado 73
Nebraska coach Connie Yori looked at the statistics sheet and shook her head.
``Who would think your opponent makes 15 3s and you win by 16?'' she said. ``That's pretty rare.''
That is rare, and so, too, is the kind of season third-ranked and unbeaten Nebraska is enjoying.
It continued with an 89-73 victory over Colorado on Saturday, with the Cornhuskers countering the Buffaloes' 3-point blitz with a balanced offensive effort led by star forward Kelsey Griffin.
Griffin scored 18 of her 25 points in the second half to lead four Nebraska players in double figures. Griffin, who posted her 15th double-double, added 12 rebounds, six assists, two steals and two blocks. Cory Montgomery had 17 points, Yvonne Turner 14 and Dominique Kelley 12 for the Huskers (25-0, 12-0 Big 12).
The Huskers set a school record for conference wins and can clinch a share of their first league title since 1988 if No. 11 Oklahoma loses Sunday at Kansas State, or if they beat the Sooners on the road Wednesday.
``Mentally, we're good,'' Griffin said. ``February, regardless of your record, is a super-wearing month, a grind. Coach Yori and her staff have done a good job keeping everything fresh and fun, knowing we have a ton to work on. Never talking about record or addressing it has been huge. Really, we're not playing not to lose. We're just playing to play our best basketball.''
Colorado (12-13, 2-10), which came to Lincoln off losses in seven straight games and in nine of their last 10, looked as if it was set to play its best game of the season.
Brittany Spears, who scored a game-high 26 points, made her first six 3-point attempts and Colorado finished with a Devaney Sports Center-record 15.
Spears sank four 3-pointers in the first five minutes to get Colorado out to a 15-9 lead, but the Buffs' season scoring leader sat out the last 10:57 of the half after charging into Lindsey Moore for her third foul.
``That's something that doesn't show up in the stat line at all,'' Yori said, ``but it was one of the biggest plays in the game.''
After Colorado tied it 25-all on Bianca Smith's 3-pointer, Nicole Neals, Turner and Moore hit consecutive 3s during a 15-2 run that put the Huskers up 40-27.
Colorado got within five points in the second half before Nebraska broke things open. Spears pulled the Buffs to 70-65, but Griffin scored inside and Turner hit a 3. After Kelly Jo Mullaney knocked down a 3, the Huskers went on a 10-2 run to make it 85-70. The Huskers won their 20th game by double digits.
``I don't think the score is reflective of the passion and energy and the way my team battled tonight,'' Buffs coach Kathy McConnell-Miller said. ``It's hard to go through a season like this in the Big 12. It's tough to look up at the scoreboard after a game and feel like you've given your blood, sweat and tears for the University of Colorado and not come out with a victory.''
Nebraska shot 60 percent in the second half and 50 percent for the game. The Buffs, who got four 3s and 18 points from Smith and three 3s and 11 points from Courtney Dunn, shot 55.6 percent on 3s but 45 percent overall.
Montgomery said the Huskers never felt their lead was safe.
``They shot the ball like crazy,'' she said. ``We knew when we had a little bit of a lead that 3s are what could get them back in the game fairly quickly. They've been shooting lights-out 3-pointers. We had to get a hand up and contest every shot going down the stretch.''
The Huskers started the week third nationally at defending 3-pointers, with opponents shooting 22.4 percent. But national 3-point leader Iowa State, which went 10 for 24 on Wednesday, and Colorado combined to go 25 of 51 against the Huskers (49 percent).
``We've got to get back in the gym and work on our defense,'' Griffin said. ``I never would have believed it. That goes to show you how good a team Colorado is. Colorado might not be a team with the best record in our league, but yet they come out and do what they did tonight. I was out there trying to stop those 3-pointers, trust me, but they're just that good a 3-point shooters.''