Buffs See Win Streak Come To End With Loss At Washington
SEATTLE — Colorado's defense had no answer for hot-shooting Washington in the second half Wednesday and the Buffaloes dropped an 84-80 decision to the Huskies at Alaska Airlines Arena.
The Buffs, who saw their four-game win streak come to an end against a team they beat 92-69 exactly one month ago, fell to 11-4 overall and 5-3 in Pac-12 play. The Huskies ended an eight-game losing streak to improve to 2-11, 1-7.
Jeriah Horne led CU with 24 points and six rebounds, Evan Battey chipped in 18 points and six rebounds and McKinley Wright IV had 12 points and six assists.
Marcus Tsohonis, who came into the game averaging just more than eight points per game, led UW with a career-high 27 points on 9-for-13 shooting, including 4-for-6 from 3-point range.
CU led by as many as 10 in the first half and still by four, 40-36, at intermission. But the Buffs' defense could not stop UW's shooters in the second half. The Huskies finally regained the lead with 13:01 to play, then built their margin to six, 81-75, with just more than a minute to play and the Buffs fell short in a last-minute comeback.
CU shot 46 percent for the game (32-for-69), but was just 1-for-18 from 3-point range. The Huskies, who entered the game last in the Pac-12 in scoring offense, field goal percentage and 3-point shooting percentage, shot 64 percent in the second half (16-for-25), including 6-for-9 from 3-point range.
"Really disappointing," CU coach Tad Boyle said. "We could not get stops ... The offense was not the issue. Even though it wasn't great, it wasn't the issue. The issue was on the other end of the floor, which is something we hang our hat on. But there was no hook tonight. Somebody pulled the chair out from under us."
HOW IT HAPPENED: Colorado had a chance to put the hammer down early, taking a 10-point lead at two different junctures in the first half. But each time, the Buffs allowed UW to pull back into the game.
"We talked about that in the second media timeout in the first half," Boyle said. "I said, 'Guys, you let this team hang around, they're going to gain confidence, they're going to gain mojo and juice and start believing. If you shut their water off now, they're going to go away.'"
But the Buffs couldn't get it done on the defensive end, and a 7-0 Washington run helped UW cut CU's lead to four, 40-36, at intermission.
Colorado did manage to build the lead to five, 57-52, with 14 minutes to play on a Wright drive. But the Huskies answered with a pair of 3-pointers to take the lead, and from that point on, neither team led by more than three until the final minutes.
"We were just in trading baskets mode," Boyle said. "When you get in trading baskets mode, you are susceptible to the last two or three minutes of the game, which they were better than us."
The Huskies looked like a completely different team than the one Colorado dominated in a non-league contest in December in Las Vegas. The league's worst shooting team and lowest scoring team turned into an offensive juggernaut. UW scored on 10 straight possessions in a span from the first half into the second half, and never blinked, even when CU fought back to take the lead.
After losing the lead with 13 minutes to play, the Buffs did manage to come back and produce a three-point edge, 67-64, at the 7:49 mark on baskets from Battey and Jabari Walker.
But Washington came back again and finally took the lead for good, 77-75, with 2:24 to play.
The Buffs had their chances in the final minutes, but had three straight empty possessions following a timeout — including two turnovers — while the Huskies added consecutive baskets for an 81-75 lead with just more than a minute to play.
CU still managed to make it close, getting a three-point play from Wright with 38 seconds remaining, then getting a Battey bucket after two Tsohonis free throws. CU forced a turnover on the ensuing inbounds pass, but Horne missed a long 3-pointer and the Huskies hit one more free throw with 5 seconds left to end the scoring.
"Obviously we did not shoot the ball well from three, but we still shot 46 percent from the field," Boyle said. "The offense was good enough to win, even though we didn't shoot the ball from three very well. But the 3-point line for them and our inability to get stops … 64 percent, you're not going to beat anybody."
Colorado led for most of the first half. A Keeshawn Barthelemy floater at the 6:31 mark gave CU a 30-20 lead, and minutes later, a Maddox Daniels drive gave Colorado a 34-24 edge.
But the Huskies answered with a 7-0 run over the last 1:27 of the half to pull within two before a Barthelemy bucket with 5 seconds remaining in the half gave CU a 40-36 lead at intermission.
The Buffs dominated in the paint in the opening 20 minutes, putting together an 18-6 edge. But the Huskies stayed in the game by hitting six 3-pointers while Colorado was 0-for-8 from beyond the arc in the first half.
TURNING POINT: Colorado had a chance to put the Huskies in a big hole in the first half, but instead let a 10-point lead melt to four. That gave the Huskies confidence and momentum, and the Buffs could never slow UW down after halftime.
WHAT IT MEANS: Instead of solidifying their spot among the top four in the conference standings, the Buffs slipped back into the pack. Now, Saturday's game at Washington State becomes a must win.
KEY STATISTICS: The Huskies entered the game as the Pac-12's worst 3-point shooting team (29.3%), but shot 48% (12-for-25) against the Buffs … CU, meanwhile, shot just 1-for-18 from 3-point range … Washington shot 64 percent from the floor in the second half (16-for-25), including 6-for-9 from 3-point range.
QUOTEWORTHY: "The bottom line is you score 80 points on the road, you're supposed to win the game. We've got nobody to blame but ourselves. I take responsibility and our players have to really look within themselves from a defensive standpoint and say 'Am I good enough at this level to stop somebody?' The answer tonight was absolutely not. Not even close.'" — CU head coach Tad Boyle
NEXT UP: The Buffs head across the state to try to salvage a split on their road trip in a 6 p.m. game Saturday at Washington State (ESPN2).