Colorado Sprints Past Escazu To Open Exhibition Tour
SAN JOSE, Costa Rica – The University of Colorado opened its four-game tour of Costa Rica in style, cruising to a 79-32 win over Escazu Friday night at the Banco Nacional Arena in San Jose.
K.J. Simpson, the most recent addition to the Colorado roster, scored 13 points off the bench to lead all players. Jabari Walker had 11 points and Keeshawn Barthelemy had 10.
The Buffaloes didn't know the identity of the team they were playing until Wednesday afternoon, much less have any kind of scouting report on Escazu. That didn't end up being an issue.
Colorado sprinted out to a 16-2 lead in the first five minutes. Walker accounted for all 11 of his points during that run, nailing his first three 3-point attempts and digging up memories of the NCAA win over Georgetown where he went 5 for 5 from long range.
"It felt good," Walker said. "Warming up I knew it was going to be a good day shooting wise. I like the nets, I like the ball we were using. I got a good warm up in so I was ready to go."
From there it was a matter of getting everyone involved, which the Buffaloes did quite nicely. Eleven of the 12 suited up played at least 17 minutes and everyone scored at least one field goal.
Simpson hit 5 of 8 shots while scoring both at the rim and from long range hitting 2 of 3 attempts.
"It was good to get my feet wet," Simpson said. "It was good to play with the guys in different rotations; just get a feel for it since it was my first game."
Nique Clifford crashed the class for the Buffaloes with a game-high 10 rebounds to go along with four points and three assists. Lawson Lovering had nine points and eight rebounds.
"It's good to get those young guys minutes," Colorado head coach Tad Boyle said. "Good to see Keeshawn out there playing extended minutes and Nique and Luke (O'Brien) and all the guys you know that were here last year that didn't - even Jabari and Tristan (da Silva) - and then the young freshmen this is invaluable for them to gain some confidence and continue to improve."
The Buffaloes weren't perfect on defense, but held Escazu to just 10 field goals and 18.9 percent from the field. After holding a 43-17 lead at the half, Colorado clamped down in the third quarter outscoring the defending Costa Rican national champions 21-4.
Daniel Shedden led Escazu with nine points and seven rebounds.
Colorado made 30 field goals, but wasn't as efficient as Boyle would have liked. The Buffaloes had 57 rebounds – 21 more than Escazu – but left some on the court on the offensive end.
"Always room for improvement," Boyle said. We could have rebounded the better offensively. We missed a lot of shots, and we didn't offensively rebound like we're capable of."
Colorado returns to action on Saturday against Colegio de Abogados, the third place team in last year's Costa Rican professional league, at 8:15 p.m. MT at the Banco Nacional Arena.