Buffs Rally Falls Short At UCLA
LOS ANGELES — Colorado's offense went cold Saturday and a second-half comeback fell just short as the Buffaloes dropped a 65-62 defeat to UCLA at Pauley Pavilion.
The Buffs dropped to 7-3 overall and 1-2 in Pac-12 play while UCLA improved to 7-2, 3-0.
McKinley Wright IV and Maddox Daniels led Colorado with 12 points apiece while Jeriah Horne and Eli Parquet each added 10 for the Buffs. CU shot just 11-for-27 in the second half, including 3-for-13 from 3-point range.
The Buffs played their second straight game without 7-foot center Dallas Walton, out with an injury. Their problems in the post were compounded in the second half when big man Evan Battey was whistled for three quick fouls, limiting him to just 11 minutes on the floor after intermission.
UCLA managed the win despite missing standout guard Chris Smith, who suffered a season-ending knee injury earlier in the week against Utah. Jaime Jaquez led five Bruins in double figures with 14 points.
The Buffs trailed for nearly the entire second half, but still had a chance to tie the game in the final seconds, gaining possession with 38 seconds remaining and trailing by three, 62-59. But two Daniels 3-point tries missed their mark and the Bruins salted the win away with three more three throws in the final five seconds.
"We just weren't able to get over the hump," CU head coach Tad Boyle said. "We had some awful good looks … But our guys battled. Obviously, this program is way, way past the point of moral victories, but I really liked the way our guys played with competitiveness and toughness and grit tonight against a solid, good UCLA basketball team. I felt like we could have won but we didn't make enough plays down the stretch to get it done."
HOW IT HAPPENED: After entering the half tied at 29-29, the Buffs trailed for almost the entire second half. Colorado did pull into a 54-54 tie with 5:01 left on a Wright three-point play. But the Bruins then answered with baskets on three of their next four possessions, part of an 8-1 run to take a 62-55 lead.
"We couldn't get enough consecutive stops in a row down the stretch," Wright said. "We needed to get a couple kills in the second half and we failed to do so. It was tough to get over the hump."
But after falling behind by seven, CU answered with baskets from Daniels and Wright, and Wright then came up with a big block on the defensive end. That gave CU one more opportunity to tie the game. After a timeout with 27 seconds remaining, Daniels got two good looks from long range, but neither found the net.
"He's our best 3-point shooter," Wright said. "We're going to live with him taking those shots. We can't be mad about those. What we can be mad about is tightening up our defense and gang rebounds. Those last two looks were great looks."
Colorado ended the game shooting 43% from the floor (23-for-53) while UCLA ended at 47% (25-for-53). The Bruins had a narrow 31-29 rebounding edge, and also a 38-28 edge in points in the paint.
"There were some battles down there in the post," Boyle said. "They could have called a foul every single time if they'd wanted to. It was a man's game tonight. It was a battle extraordinaire in the paint. There's going to be some bruises tomorrow on both sides."
Defense dominated the first half, as the two teams entered the locker rooms at intermission tied at 29-29. Colorado shot just 12-for-26 from the floor and had only two assists (both from Wright) in the opening 20 minutes while UCLA was 12-for-25.
Both teams also had issues with turnovers, as Colorado had nine in the first half and the Bruins had 10.
The first half featured six lead changes and eight ties. The Buffs battled back from a five-point deficit with 3:46 to go, using a 10-2 run to take a 29-26 lead with 49 seconds remaining on a D'Shawn Schwartz 3-pointer.
The Bruins, though, answered with a Tyger Campbell trey seconds later to tie the game at 29-29 at the half.
TURNING POINT: After Colorado rallied to tie the game at 54-54 with five minutes to play, the Bruins put together an 8-1 run over the next three minutes to regain control and the Buffs could never completely close the gap again.
WHAT IT MEANS: Now 1-2 in league play, the Buffs head back to Boulder for a critical four-game homestand. Wright said every game is a "must win" for the Buffs.
KEY STATISTICS: Colorado shot just 6-for-23 from 3-point range … UCLA had a 9-2 edge in second-chance points … CU had 13 turnovers and just nine assists.
NEXT UP: Colorado returns home to begin a four-game homestand Thursday with a 9 p.m. game against Oregon (Pac-12 Network). That will be followed by a 3 p.m. game Saturday against Oregon State, a 7 p.m. matchup against Cal on Jan. 13 and a 1 p.m. game against Stanford on Jan. 16.