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Buffs Rally To Sink Washington State

Jan 23, 2021

Tad Boyle Postgame | McKinley Wright Postgame | Evan Battey Postgame | WATCH: Highlights | Notes | Stats (PDF) | Boxscore

PULLMAN, Wash. — Colorado's McKinley Wright IV came back from a first-half injury Saturday to help the Buffaloes rally from an early 18-point deficit and record a 70-59 win over Washington State at Beasley Coliseum. 

The Buffaloes improved to 12-4 overall and 6-3 in Pac-12 play. The Cougars fell to 9-6, 2-6. 

Evan Battey led CU with 16 points while Wright finished with 12 points and led the team in rebounds (seven) and assists (five). D'Shawn Schwartz added 11 points. 

Wright, who missed much of the first half with a leg injury, recorded all of his points and rebounds and four of his five assists after halftime.

The Buffs trailed by as many as 18 in the first half but cut the lead to just seven points at halftime, 37-30. CU used an early 8-2 second half run to bring the game to within one point, 39-38, and then quickly regained the lead, 44-43. Colorado then used a late 14-0 run to put the Cougars away.  

Colorado had solid bench production and outscored the Cougars' reserves 25-5.

Isaac Bonton led the Cougars with 21 points. 

Wright had to be helped from the court barely six minutes into the game after aggravating a knee injury in a collision. His teammates managed to shave WSU's big lead down to seven by intermission, and he returned for the second half to help fuel the decisive 14-0 run.

"He's a gritty kid," Boyle said. "I hope CU fans aren't taking him for granted. Enjoy him the rest of this year because I don't know if we'll have another one like him for quite some time."

HOW IT HAPPENED: The Buffs had a slow start and quickly found themselves looking at a 23-5 deficit midway through the first half. At the 13:55 mark, Wright went down with a leg injury and did not return the rest of the half.

Shortly after Wright went down, the Buffs used a 14-2 surge to shrink the Cougars' lead to just six points. Battey led the way on the run with six points,  Schwartz pitched in with five and Keeshawn Barthelemy added a 3-point bucket. The Buffs trailed by just seven at intermission. 

"Evan really stepped up his game, his talk, and his energy level," Boyle said. "I think the rest of the guys fed off Evan's energy. I think our guys learned a lot about themselves tonight."

Wright returned to play and started the second half. CU cut the WSU lead to just one point thanks to an 8-2 run. Dallas Walton hit two jumpers, Schwartz pitched in with a pair of free throws, and Wright added a stepback two to cut the Cougars' lead to just 39-38. 

The Buffs continued to chip away at the WSU lead and a Schwartz jumper gave the Buffs a 44-43 advantage, their first lead since 2-0.  CU then took advantage of a WSU technical foul, and Jeriah Horne sank two free throws and Maddox Daniels drilled a 3-point jumper to extend the Buffalo lead to 49-43. 

"We talked about stringing stops together. We were right there," Boyle said, "We dug ourselves out of that hole one possession at a time. We didn't panic. We didn't try to come back all at once, you can't do that. You just have to go possession by possession and our guys did a good job of that." 

Defensively, the Buffs got a big boost from guard Eli Parquet, who had four blocked shots and helped contain WSU's scorers after halftime.

The Buffaloes then broke the game wide open with a 14-0 run late in the second half to take an 11-point advantage, 59-48. Jabari Walker highlighted the run with three layups, a 3-pointer and a pair of free throws. Wright contributed four points and assisted on Walker's 3-pointer. 

"I give a lot of credit to our bench," Boyle said. "There was a totally different bench decorum tonight from our guys when we were struggling compared to at Washington. When we were struggling against Washington, the bench was quiet, heads were down, and they were pouting like the guys on the floor. Tonight it wasn't like that. They really helped pick it up."

The Cougars did not make another push after CU's 14-0 run, and the Buffs kept them at bay the rest of the way. 

TURNING POINT: After the Buffs took the lead 44-43, a technical foul on WSU led to two Horne free throws and a Daniels 3-pointer that pushed the Buffs lead out to six. 

WHAT IT MEANS: Colorado salvaged a much-needed win on the road before the Buffs return to Boulder for five straight home games. 

NOTES: McKinley Wright hit 1,600 career points … The 18-point comeback is the best for the Buffaloes in a regular season Pac-12 game and tied the fifth-best in their history.

KEY STATISTICS: Colorado's bench outscored Washington State's 25-5 … Colorado held WSU to just 33% shooting (9-for-27) in the second half while CU shot 61 percent (14-for-23) in the second half. 

NEXT UP: The Buffs will face off against Washington State again on Wednesday when they host WSU at the CU Events Center at 7 p.m.