Although making an appearance in the College Basketball Invitational Tournament is not ideal, the Buffs made the most of a bad situation by shutting down Gardner-Webb 87-78 and hitting a few milestones along the way.
“We’re playing still, we’re here to play basketball and if you love the game and you like playing regardless of the tournament,” junior forward Josh Scott said. “We’re seizing this opportunity to get better, and I think we took the right step in terms of moving forward these guys into next year.”
The Buffs were forced to compete without sophomore forward Dustin Thomas, who has decided to leave the team, and senior guard Askia Booker, who opted out of playing in the tournament in his final season.
“I think it’s very important just to get the reps, and then to gel with the guys with two guys missing,” freshman guard Dominique Collier said. “We get to see a look into next year.”
Five minutes into the second half, Scott sealed himself into the No. 11 spot in CU history for double-doubles when he grabbed his 10th rebound and hit his 18th point. He finished with 23 points and 15 rebounds.
To put that number in perspective, the Bulldogs collectively finished the entire game with 18 rebounds.
Perhaps more importantly, freshman forward Tory Miller and junior guard Eli Stalzer hit career-high scoring marks, finishing with 12 and 11 points respectively.
As a squad, the Buffs grabbed 43 rebounds and handed out 20 assists. Collier led the team with five dimes.
For the game, the Buffs shot an impressive 52.8 percent from the field, but shot 23.1 percent from beyond the arc. The Bulldogs, on the other hand, shot 50.9 percent and 37.9 percent (11-29) respectively.
Gardner-Webb’s zone proved difficult for the Buffs to handle in Colorado’s first CBI Tournament game. For much of the first half, Scott was the main reason the Buffs were in the game at all, scoring eight points in the first seven minutes.
Prior to his acceptance of the CBI invite, Boyle said he wanted to take the tournament bid in order to give his freshman the added experience, something the two certainly capitalized on.
Though Scott ultimately stole the show for the Buffaloes with 12 first-half points and seven rebounds, freshman forward Tory Miller complemented him with eight points and two rebounds of his own.
The Bulldogs were killer from deep, but their shooting in the paint couldn’t quite help them get the edge over the Buffs before the buzzer sounded. By halftime, the Buffs led 44-36.
The Buffs shot very well and ultimately that’s why they won. In the first half alone, they made 58.8 percent of their shots inside the arc while sinking 50 percent outside.
On the other side of the court, the Bulldogs were lethal from three-point range as they sunk seven of 15 (46.7 percent). They suffered in the paint, however, where the Buffs outgunned them 34-12.
At the start of the second half, Colorado started to pull away a little more before the Gardner-Webb was able to fight back ever so slightly. But the Buffs hung tough, and with roughly two and a half minutes left in the game, Colorado gained its biggest lead at 81-65.
The Buffs will go on the road next to take face the Seattle on Monday, March 23. The time hasn’t been determined.
“This tournament is an investment in our future,” Boyle said. “Contrary to what some people believe, our future is bright…We have to build on our strengths, but we have to shore up some of our weaknesses.”
Contact CU Independent staff writer Alissa Noe at firstname.lastname@example.org.