One free throw was the difference in a hard-fought game between the University of Colorado Buffaloes and the University of Oregon Ducks.
With time expiring, Colorado men’s basketball senior guard Nate Tomlinson charged down the court and drew a foul with one second left on the clock. He hit his first and missed his second, but that was enough to give the Buffs a 72-71 lead over the Oregon Ducks in front of a sold out crowd at the Coors Events Center on Saturday night. The Buffs, at 16-7 (8-3 Pac-12), now sit tied for second in the conference.
“I wouldn’t have been able to sleep for the next week if I would have missed that one,” Tomlinson said. “I kind of threw us in the deep end missing the second one of my free throws, and then they came down and tied it, so I knew I had to make a play at the end.”
Freshman guard Askia Booker had the highest scoring night of his young career, leading all scorers at 17. Booker was 5-of-8 from the field and 7-of-8 from the free throw line. Freshman guard Spencer Dinwiddie scored 16, hitting 3-of-4 from behind the arc, and senior guard Carlon Brown shook of early struggles to end the game with 10 points and six rebounds.
As a team the Buffs shot 46.8 percent, making 5-of-18 3-pointers and 23-of-30 free throws.
The Ducks went 42.9 percent from the field, making 7 of their 20 3-point attempts and 10-of-17 free throws.
Senior guard Devoe Joseph lead the Ducks with 18 points, hitting 6-of-14 shots and 3-of-4 from the foul line. Olu Ashaolu had 17 points, but struggles with his foul shots, only making 1-of-6. Junior forward E.J. Singler had 13 points.
The Buffs had the advantage early. They were leading by seven with 14:07 left in the first half, but the Ducks found an answer. Pressing the Buffs defensively, the Ducks went on a 10-2 run to take a five point lead with 8:40 left in the half.
The Buffs were ice cold from 3-point land, missing all of their eight first half attempts. But they still managed to hang around due to Oregon’s poor free throw shooting.
At the half, Ducks held a 37-33 advantage.
The Ducks tried again to break the game open, but back-to-back 3-pointers by the Buffs brought the game with in three. From there, the teams traded punches, and took the game down to the wire.
With 2:25 left, the Buffs took a three point lead, with the previously cold Brown making a layup. The Ducks responded with a Joseph layup. Colorado stretched a four point lead when Booker found Dinwiddie wide open on the wing, and Dinwiddie drilled the 3-pointer. The Ducks answered with a three of their own and then called a timeout to draw up a defensive play.
Out of the timeout, Tomlinson was fouled, but only hit one of two free throws. The Ducks came back down the court. Ashaolu was fouled while making a layup, giving the Ducks a chance to take the lead. Ashalou missed the free throw, and the game was tied at 71-71 with seven seconds left.
From the inbound, Tomlinson got the ball, looked at the clock, and charged down the field. He was fouled with just one second left, and hit one free throw to win the game.
The players said they had faith in each other, even in the final seconds of the game.
“We don’t stop believing in each other,” Booker said. “Whether it’s offense or defense, we just have to keep competing. We don’t really pay attention to the score at the time, because if you get too caught up in the score and everybody gets their heads down, there’s no point in competing at the last second.”
Colorado head coach Tad Boyle praised the toughness of the Ducks after the game.
“We tried to break it open a few times, but every time we got on a run, and the crowd got into it, Oregon had an answer,” Boyle said. “Got a lot of respect for their program, their coach.”
The Buffs will now travel to Arizona, where they will take on the Univeristy of Arizona on Feb. 9 in Tuscon, Ariz. at 7 p.m. and Arizona State in Tempe, Ariz. on Feb. 11 at 4:30 p.m.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Mark McNeillie at Mark.firstname.lastname@example.org.