Chucky Jeffery scored 19 and Jamee Swan, the freshman out of Tucson, had 15 points and 10 rebounds, as No. 4 Colorado (25-5) outdueled No. 5 Washington (20-11), 70-59, in the last quarterfinal of the Pacific-12 women’s basketball championship Friday at Seattle.
Jazmine Davis had 11 points at the half and finished with 17 for the Huskies, while Talia Walton scored 13 and grabbed eight.
Searching for its first win over a ranked opponent this season, Washington may have seen its bubble burst for the NCAA tourney, while Colorado, which is ranked No. 18 in the nation, faces top-seeded Stanford (29-2) at 8:30 p.m. PT Saturday in the semifinals.
“We had a lot of players step up and do their jobs perfectly tonight,” Colorado coach Linda Lappe said. “Our reserves were huge for us, especially when Brittany Wilson got in foul trouble. Our depth has allowed us to go on runs in the second half.”
Davis converted an old-style three-point play with just under four minutes played of the second half to cut the Buffaloes’ 11-point lead to 37-34, but Colorado scored the next four and would soon be up seven. The Huskies wouldn’t close within four until Kristi Kingma iced two from the line to narrow it to 45-43 with 10 and a half to play.
Colorado’s Jen Reese scored the next four and Swan completed the run, before Davis hit another three. The teams kept trading baskets, but it seemed for every Husky steal and second-chance rebound, the Buffaloes were scoring on their first attempts.
Swan surpassed her career high by one point, but fell one rebound short of the 11 she grabbed versus Utah in January.
“I just feel like I’ve played the best I’ve ever played,” Swan said, “not being afraid and having my teammates help me do what I have to do to be able to get on the court.”
Heather Corral trapped down a three to cut the double-digit Buffalo lead to seven with 1:15 left. After a timeout and Jeffery foul, Walton hit a straight-on trey to pull within four, only for Jeffery to lay it in on the other side.
Colorado sophomore Lexy Kresl, of Paradise Valley and Shadow Mountain High School, and like Arizona’s Davellyn Whyte a product of the Gregory Strickling Basketball Academy, scored four points, with two steals and two boards in 22 minutes.
“She’s been able to catch fire,” Lappe said of Kresl. “She got hurt a couple of weeks ago, but before that, she was really starting to hit her shots and understand her offense. Defensively, tonight I thought she was really good, she did a good job on Kingma. It’s an area I think she’s improved on, and offensively, she’s starting to get into the flow.”
Freshman Arielle Roberson also grabbed nine rebounds for Colorado, and Kingma, Corral and Mathilde Gilling each scored nine points for the Huskies.
Washington is searching for its first NCAA appearance since 2007, while the Buffaloes haven’t been to the Big Dance since 2004. Already a lock for an at-large bid, Colorado can improve its seeding with a win or impressive showing against the Cardinal, who saw Chiney Ogwumike score 23 and grab 21 in the earlier quarterfinal.
“Chiney’s a great player, it’s hard to stop Chiney,” Jeffery said. “We wanted to face Stanford because they match up with us really well, and it’s going to be a great game.”
Stanford won both meetings with Colorado, 57-40 Jan. 4 at Boulder and 69-56 Jan.27 at Palo Alto.
“They have a lot of great players, and they are also executing their offense really well right now,” Lappe said of Stanford. “They’re also tough defensively because they’re so big, and it’s hard to get easy shots on them. There’s only one way to look at a matchup with Stanford, it that it’s an opportunity, so we’re going to look at it that way.”