When Jamee Swan recorded the first double-double of her career a week ago against Washington, it could not have come at a better time.
Swan's 10 rebounds and career-high 15 points -- along with three blocks -- helped the Colorado women's basketball team to a 70-59 win over Washington in the Pac-12 Tournament quarterfinals.
In that same game, fellow true freshman Ky Weston pulled down a career-high six rebounds and hit a huge bucket with 5:32 to play to extend the CU lead.
Swan and Weston didn't just help the Buffs that night; they also let it be known that if the Buffs need to, they can turn their youngsters for valuable minutes during the upcoming NCAA Tournament.
"It feels great to know that the coaches know if they call my number I'm going to be ready to play, no matter what the circumstances," Swan said. "It's nice."
The 19th-ranked Buffaloes (25-6) will open the NCAA Tournament on March 23 in Boulder against an opponent yet to be determined. It will be CU's first NCAA Tournament appearance in nine years.
Head coach Linda Lappe is in a good position heading into the tournament, in regards to Swan and Weston. Other than redshirt freshman Arielle Roberson, who has started 30 of 31 games, Lappe has not had to depend on her youngsters all season.
At the same time, Swan and Weston have been so good when they do get a chance that Lappe now has more great options off the bench.
"They're getting much more comfortable, our team is getting much more comfortable with them on the floor and they're fitting in with the flow of things," Lappe said of Swan and Weston. "They understand their role, they understand what we need from them and they're now able to go out and do it."
A 6-foot-2 forward from Tucson, Ariz., Swan averaged about 15 minutes per game during conference play and she made the most of those minutes, posting 5.4 points and 4.6 rebounds per game. She then averaged 10.5 points and 8.0 rebounds during the Pac-12 Tournament.
"I'm feeling a lot stronger, a lot faster," Swan said. "I have more sense of basketball IQ. I love the feeling of getting better, and that's all I can be happy about is getting better."
Weston's contribution doesn't show up as well on the stat sheet, but it's there. A 5-foot-9 backup point guard from Kansas City, Mo., she averaged just 1.5 points and 0.9 rebounds in 9.1 minutes per game during the Pac-12 schedule.
However, she provided a huge spark off the bench at times this season and really stepped up during the Pac-12 Tournament. In addition to five points, she had 10 rebounds in the two games in Seattle, after grabbing just 15 rebounds in 17 regular season Pac-12 games.
Perhaps most important, Lappe felt comfortable enough with Weston to have her on the floor for 34 of the 80 minutes the team played in Seattle.
"Just knowing that my teammates have confidence in me and my coaches have confidence in me builds my confidence," she said.
Regardless of who the Buffs play in the NCAA Tournament, they will benefit greatly from having Swan and Weston on the floor at times. That makes a coach feel good.
"Ky and Jamee are in a comfort zone right now, which is good," Lappe said. "They're not having to over-think, which helps them be able to just play the game. They both know the game pretty well. It's when they start to over-think that they start to not do very well. You saw that at the beginning of the year. At this point in the season, they should be able to kind of play without thinking and that's what we're able to see."
Weston said she and Swan have had the same roles all season, but knows it is of utmost importance to fulfill those roles now.
"I feel like if we stick to those roles and really focus on what we're supposed to do, it'll be really good," she said.
The NCAA Tournament selection show will be at 5 p.m. on Monday. ... Since 1993, CU is 8-1 in first-round NCAA games and 6-2 in second-round games.
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