The CU Events Center was buzzing with students for the first basketball game following winter break. In the end, students slowly trickled out as the players left the court with their heads hung low. The Colorado Buffaloes fought until the end but succumbed to the Washington Huskies on Thursday night, 75-72.
“This was a really, really disappointing loss,” said head coach Tad Boyle. “You score 72 points at home, and it’s good enough to win. There are a lot of ways you can look at this game and see how we lost it. You can look at the free throw line, you can look at our defense in the second half when they shoot almost 64 percent in our building.”
Entering this matchup, Colorado and Washington had the same record: 11-8 overall and 3-5 in conference play. Although the Huskies were 0-4 away, Washington was riding on a two-game win streak which they ultimately extended. Colorado previously had an 8-1 at-home advantage which proved to fall short. Tad Boyle’s Buffaloes fell to 11-9 overall and 3-6 in conference play.
“Washington deserved to win,” said Boyle. “They were the better team and I apologize to our fans. Our fans deserve more than they’re getting from this team. They deserve more than they’re getting from me, their coach. This building was ready to explode tonight and we couldn’t get over the hump to give them a win and for that, I apologize.”
This wasn’t the first time the Buffaloes battled the Huskies. Previously, on Dec. 4., Colorado took to Washington’s court and lost. The final score came out to 73-63, and Washington held Colorado to less than 50 percent in field goals, 3-pointers and free throws.
How it happened
Colorado matched Washington’s pace for the first two minutes of the game but quickly fell behind. Washington put up a 7-0 scoring run to extend their lead to 11-4. Colorado responded with a 3-pointer followed by a fast break layup to slim the margin to 11-9. The Buffaloes attempted to stay competitive with the Huskies keeping their margin to a slim three until 10 minutes into the first half.
Off of back-to-back 3-pointers, Washington extended their lead to nine, 22-13. At the end of the first half, Washington led 33-26. Colorado ended the half with a 35.5 field goal percentage and 33 free-throw percentage. Leaving the court, Colorado looked rattled and Boyle was visibly unhappy.
Following half-time, Washington gained a 10-point lead on the Buffs from a Colorado turnover. Less than five minutes later, Tristan Da Silva scored two buckets, and Colorado had managed to slim their lead to six. Washington went on a 9-2 run in less than two minutes. The Huskies extended their lead to 13 at 48-35, which was their largest of the game.
There was no light at the end of the tunnel for the Buffaloes until the final 70 seconds of the contest. Colorado scored five points off three free throws and a layup to narrow the score to 73-72. With five seconds left, KJ Simpson turned the ball over out of bounds as he was looking to set up Luke O’Brien for a three-pointer.
“KJ Simpson is a good player,” said Boyle. “He is a good player that’s not playing well right now. That’s the fact of the matter, and it’s my job as his coach to help him get better and help him recognize mistakes. We lost the game as a team. But I’ve got to do a better job of helping KJ Simpson better than I’m doing right now. I have to do that with a lot of our players.”
Washington had two free throws, which they converted, extending their lead to 75-72. Colorado had four seconds left and needed one three-pointer to send the game to overtime. Da Silva gained possession in the defensive zone, to which he threw the ball nearly halfway across the court. Julian Hammond caught the ball but turned it over out of bounds ending the game.
Colorado struggled offensively and couldn’t compete with Washington’s defense. The Huskies held the Buffaloes to an overall 43.8 field goal percentage (28-for-64). The Buffs’ hurt themselves by only hitting 13-for-20 from the free-throw line.
“It started from the get-go,” said Da Silva. “I feel like we didn’t come out in the first half like we were supposed to, and that kind of sluggishness continued throughout the whole game. They’ve got good players, so we’ve got to make sure we’re locked in from the get-go and make sure that we guard the way that we have to stop them.”
On the stat sheet, the numbers didn’t match the results. Colorado led in points off turnovers, paint points, second chance points but couldn’t pull off a win.
Colorado has become unpredictable. Free throws have been unreliable and inconsistent. The Buffaloes can defeat an AP top-25 team such as Tennessee but teeter between losses and wins for the following weeks.
The Colorado Buffaloes have an opportunity to end their losing streak when they host the Washington State Cougars on Sunday afternoon at the CU Events Center. Tip-off will be at 4 p.m. MST and can be viewed on ESPNU.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Malaina Humphreys at email@example.com.