Hometown Hero Hoops His Way To Championship

By Kevin Danna

There wasn't a Los Angeles team in the Pac-12 title game, but that didn't mean one of Southern California's own couldn't be a deciding factor. In front of his loved ones, Colorado freshman Spencer Dinwiddie led the Buffaloes with 14 points and provided sound defense to help propel the Buffs to the NCAA tournament by holding off the Arizona Wildcats 53-51.

"That was great. Playing in front of family and friends and showing that I made the right decision in my college choice," Dinwiddie said after the win. "It's a great feeling to come back and win this championship."

The Woodland Hills, Calif., product out of Taft High School has been a solid contributor all season long for Colorado coach Tad Boyle, averaging 10 points and more than three rebounds per game entering Saturday. The 41 percenter from long distance did what he does best in the championship match-up: shoot threes.

He didn't miss. On one possession, Jesse Perry switched on to Dinwiddie. Respecting his ability to drive, the senior forward had to play off the freshman perimeter, giving Dinwiddie the space to release and drain from beyond the arc on the right wing.

Later in the half, Dinwiddie didn't have a choice. The shot clock was running down, and the Buffs had nothing going offensively. Finally, André Roberson had to throw it to the only open man he could see - Dinwiddie, who was 30 feet from the hoop. Left with a second, Dinwiddie had to heave it…

Swish.

Defensively, Dinwiddie had the task, along with teammates Carlon Brown, Nate Tomlinson and Askia Booker of trying to corral an explosive backcourt that features first team all-conference member Kyle Fogg and highly-touted freshman Nick Johnson. Mission accomplished.

Arizona's starting guards were held to 6-23 shooting for the game. Dinwiddie played his man tough, on one occasion forcing Kyle Fogg into a rushed contested jumper in a second half where every possession mattered.

He wasn't done offensively, either, draining a corner three to put Colorado up 11 as part of a second half run that would prove to be too much in the end for Arizona. Overall, Dinwiddie was a perfect 4-4 from downtown.

"That felt good to hit your first shot; it always gets you rolling," he said. "But I just credit the seniors and stuff for believing in me. They told me, 'Don't stop shooting.'"

Carlon Brown might have been the tournament MVP and threw down two emphatic dunks.

André Roberson might have been a double-double waiting to happen and Nate Tomlinson might have been the one to force Kyle Fogg to take an impossible-to-make three as time expired.

But Dinwiddie was equally important, sending Colorado to the first-ever Pac-12 Tournament championship in his own backyard.

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