The University of Colorado men’s basketball team picked up their fourth straight win Sunday, defeating the Iona Gaels handily, 99-54. The match marks Tad Boyles 200th win as Colorado’s head coach.
Coming off the heels of an overtime thriller win against now No. 18 Dayton, Colorado picked up right where they left off, with junior guard/forward D’Shawn Schwartz hitting a 3-pointer to open the scoring.
“The guys around me know where I like the ball at and they know I can make shots when I get going,” Schwartz said.
The Buffs’ defense came out to play, managing to hold the Gaels scoreless through the first five minutes. This is no surprise as up until this game, the CU is second in the Pac-12 and 27th in the nation in scoring defense at 61.1 points per game. Colorado has now held six opponents under 60 points this season.
With 11:30 left in the first half, CU can thank unselfish basketball for their 15-5 lead. No one Buffs player attempted to put the whole weight of the game on their shoulders. Quick passing and shooters in the scoring effort characterized the first half for the Buffaloes.
“Our team really buys into the respect everybody, fear nobody mantra that we talk about,” Boyle said. “The longer I’m around this group of guys, I know their competitive spirit is intact, we learned that in Chicago.”
Iona struggled to get their offense going in the first half, shooting just 19% on 3-of-16 from the field with just under eight minutes to go in the half.
“Our team really buys into the respect everybody, fear nobody mantra that we talk about.”
Tad Boyle, head coach
With three minutes left in the half, CU maintained a 31-15 lead, Colorado’s largest lead of the night. Junior guard McKinley Wright, Schwartz and junior guard/forward Tyler Bey all had six points, tied for the team’s point leader.
“We played really well besides our 15 turnovers,” Wright said. “Other than that I think our offense performed really well, we moved the ball and shared the ball.”
At the end of the half, Colorado held a dominant 16-point lead, 35-19.
Evan Battey began the second half with a fire lit under him, scoring the first six points of the half and stretching his game total to eight.
“Not trying to force anything,” Battey said. “Just going up strong when I get the ball and being a team player, there’s no real science to it.”
The score sat at 47-22 with 16 minutes left in the game. Colorado looked great coming into the second half, outscoring Iona 12-3 to open the second. The Buffs owned a stellar 53% shooting percentage with 15 minutes left in the game, hitting 19-of-36 from the field.
Iona struggled to stay in the game midway through the second as the Buffs kept pushing and playing their best basketball of the night, further increasing their lead to a staggering 30 points, 54-24.
With 13-minutes left to play, Wright jumped a pass and stole the ball, leading to a breakaway that he finished with a monster two-handed dunk. The six-foot Wright got up and flew above the rim to jam the ball in, working the crowd into a frenzy.
As the clock ticked under ten minutes, CU enjoyed a whopping 40-point lead, 74-34. Again, no single player for CU did it all, the scoring got shared between eleven different Buffs.
“It’s a good win, we will take it,” Boyle said. “Anytime you have 26 assists and nine different guys make threes, it makes everyone feel good. I loved the unselfishness that our team played with offensively.”
Wright ended up leading the Buffs’ scoring effort with 13 points, shooting 5-of-7 from the field and 3-of-4 from downtown. Senior guard/forward E.J. Crawford led the Gaels in scoring with 14 points on 4-of-14 shooting.
Colorado had a great night from deep, hitting 17-of-28 three-pointers, shooting 61%. The Buffs also ended up shooting 57% from the field on 34-of-60 shooting.
Fans were as loud as ever in the final seconds of the game as they wanted to hit 100 points. However, CU fans will have to be satisfied with a 99-54 dismantling of the Iona Gaels.
Both Wright and Battey earned double-doubles. Wright had 13 points and ten assists while Battey had 12 points and 12 rebounds.
“This is a great way to go into conference play,” Boyle said. “We know on Thursday it’s going to be a bit of a different animal in here and we got to get ready for it.”
Colorado will be back on the home court on Jan. 2, facing the No. 6 Oregon Ducks in Colorado’s Pac-12 opener.
“It’s going to be a war,” said Schwartz. “They have never won here so I am sure their coach is preaching that to them every day.”
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