No. 14 CU Women Open Big 12 at Baylor

University of Colorado women's basketball head coach <b>Ceal Barry</b> was about as openly confident following her teams' 98-47 victory over Buffalo Saturday night as she gets. With 21 years of CU tenure and more wins than any other coach in the history of the University under her belt, such proclamation can only be a good thing for the Lady Buffs and their fans as the team opens Big 12 Conference play Wednesday night against Baylor in Waco, TX.

"We are in a good position, and we are excited for the conference to begin," Barry said following her team's most recent victory in an eight-game win streak. "We finished with an 11-1 record, and it is good that we had this heading into the conference. We were unsure at the beginning of the season, but we didn't hurt ourselves for the NCAA tournament, but we have to do well in the conference to get a bid."

Any uncertainties Barry or anyone on her team held early in the season couldn't have lasted long.

After claiming the WBCA Classic with a win over Old Dominion and then a thrilling overtime victory against Notre Dame, CU suffered its only loss of the season in the title game of the Subway Classic.

Since, the Buffs have won eight straight and are playing their most impressive basketball in years, thanks in large part to the brilliant, yet selfless play of one of the top offensive attacks in the country.

"I think it has gone really well so far," senior center Tera Bjorklund said this week. "Looking at our schedule coming in seemed pretty tough, and we didn't know if we were going to struggle or come out okay, but I think the freshmen really stepped it up after all of the injuries we have had, and were filling roles. We are really happy with our non-conference schedule right now."

Bjorklund, a pre-season All-American, has led Colorado's attack this season; dropping more than 20 points a game for the Buffs.

Seniors Kate Fagan and forward Randie Wirt account for the majority of the Buffaloes' remaining offense, contributing with an additional 24 points per game.

Adjacent to their individual scoring effort, Colorado's team offense has been equally vital in the Buffaloes' recent success. CU has outshot its opponents 47 percent to 43 on the year from the floor, while owning a 40 to 35 team three-point percentage.

With all of their non-conference success behind them, Barry's team realizes that the actual road to success lies ahead.

"Right now we are just focused on Baylor, and starting out the Big 12 strong," Fagan said this week in practice. "If we can get two wins next week then that would be a good start. I think the teams we are going to play will be more like Notre Dame, Washington, and USC, but playing some weaker teams in between has still been good experience for us. We are ready to go (and play conference games), and right now we just want our freshmen to be prepared, and know how big the Big 12 really is."

One thing is for sure: Colorado won't waste any time finding out.

Baylor may well represent what the Big 12 has to offer. The Lady Bears completed non-conference play with one or zero losses for the fourth straight season under head coach Kim Mulkey-Robertson, after finishing 12-1. They went 6-0 at home and 6-1 away from home, suffering their only loss to then-No. 8 Penn State, 74-63.

In four seasons under Mulkey-Robertson, Baylor is 46-2 in non-conference regular season games.

Three players are averaging in double figures for Baylor having concluded their early season. With a career-high 27 points against Washington State, sophomore center Sophia Young moved into the lead for the Lady Bears in scoring and rebounding average.

Junior forward Steffanie Blackmon ranks second on her team in both points (14.4) and rebounds (6.1).

Freshman forward Emily Niemann is averaging 10.4 points, while Baylor seniors Dionne Brown and Jessika Stratton are on the verge of cracking double digits, averaging 9.6 and 9.0, respectively.

Colorado leads the series with Baylor 7-4, and the two schools have met seven times in Big 12. The Bears holding a 4-3 lead in conference contests. This will be the third time the teams have met in Waco in league play and the fourth time overall.


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