Buffs Topple Washington State For Pac-12 Home Win
BOULDER — Colorado broke open a close game in the second half Thursday with a 13-2 run and the Buffaloes had four players in double figures as CU collected an 83-78 Pac-12 win over Washington State at the CU Events Center.
The Buffs, who were playing their first game in 19 days, improved to 10-3 overall and 2-1 in Pac-12 play to help coach Tad Boyle celebrate his 59th birthday.
Washington State fell to 8-6, 1-2.
Big man Evan Battey led CU with 20 points. Jabari Walker had 16 points — all in the second half — and eight rebounds; Keeshawn Barthelemy also had 16 points; and Tristan da Silva chipped in 10.
Tyrell Roberts led the Cougars with 25 points. CU defensive specialist Elijah Parquet held WSU leading scorer to seven points on 2-for-10 shooting — half his season average.
Colorado trailed by one at intermission, 38-37, but the Buffs used a 13-2 run midway through the second half to turn a 58-55 deficit into a 68-60 lead and they never trailed again.
While WSU shot 46 percent (28-for-61) from the floor, Colorado was even better, shooting 52 percent (29-for-56), including a blistering 18-for-28 in the second half.
"I was really proud of our guys," Boyle said. "They just find a way. We played poorly in the first half but we were still only down by one. Washington State is a good defensive team and we figured out a way. A good win for the Buffaloes."
HOW IT HAPPENED: The Buffs trailed by as much as six in the first half but managed to cut the deficit to one by intermission, 38-37, after scoring the final five points of the first 20 minutes.
The two teams then traded the lead seven times over the first 10 minutes of the second half before Colorado finally took control with a 11-0 run to take a 66-58 lead with 9:59 to play.
Walker, who was scoreless in the first half, started the run with a bucket inside before Julian Hammond III cashed in a layup in transition.
Hammond had a sterling effort for Colorado, getting 14 minutes on the floor after regular backup guard K.J. Simpson went down with an injury in the first half. The CU freshman finished with five rebounds, two points, four assists, four steals and no turnovers.
"Big-time minutes," Boyle said. "He played really, really well for us."
After Hammond's bucket, Battey drained a long 3-pointer to give CU a 62-58 lead, forcing WSU coach Kyle Smith to call a timeout.
But the Buffs continued their surge when play resumed, as Walker scored four more for the Buffs to give CU an eight-point cushion, 66-58, with 8:54 to play.
WSU finally ended the run with a TJ Bamba bucket, but Colorado responded with a Walker follow-dunk with 7:12 to play, finishing a 13-2 CU surge. The dunk gave Walker his 14th point of the game and the Buffs were in control.
"Jabari just gets a little impatient when he's not scoring," Boyle said. "He just has to slow down, relax and let the game come to him. But he's also become a much better playmaker for us. When he lets the game come to him, he can do a lot of things."
Washington State managed to cut CU's lead down to three with under four minutes to play, but a Battey three-point play gave the Buffs some breathing room, 74-68, with 3:28 on the clock.
A Walker bucket with 2:08 to play then gave Colorado a 78-72 lead with just more than two minutes to play and the Buffs held WSU off down the stretch for the win.
The victory was No. 299 in Boyle's career, including a 243-146 record at Colorado.
"Just a number," he said. "I've just tried to recruit good players and good kids. Kudos to the players and assistant coaches. It just means I've been around a while."
Colorado jumped out to a quick 8-2 lead, thanks to 3-pointers from da Silva and Battey in the first four minutes.
But the Buffs went cold, Washington State started to warm up and the Cougars finally used a 7-0 run to take an 18-12 lead eight minutes in.
CU finally ended a 3:30 scoring drought with a Barthelemy 3-pointer and the Buffs momentarily regained the lead at the 10:40 mark on a Battey bucket off the glass.
But the Cougars quickly regained the lead and held the edge for the rest of the half, building their cushion to six at several different junctures. WSU shot 47 percent from the field in the first 20 minutes (14-for-30).
Colorado, though, scored the final five points of the half to narrow WSU's lead to 38-37 at intermission. Nique Clifford started the surge with a 3-point play before da Silva hit two free throws with 5 seconds on the clock to pull the Buffs to within one after the first 20 minutes.
TURNING POINT: The Buffs' 13-2 run in the second half that erased a three-point WSU lead put Colorado in control and the Cougars never came closer than three again.
WHAT IT MEANS: Colorado improves to 2-1 in Pac-12 play and has a chance for another home conference win Sunday when Washington visits the Events Center.
KEY STATISTICS: CU held WSU leading scorer Michael Flowers to seven points on 2-for-10 shooting, half his average … The Buffs shot a red-hot 64 percent from the field in the second half (18-for-28) … The Buffs had a 36-34 edge in points in the paint, and CU finished with 17 assists on 29 baskets.
NEXT UP: The Buffs play host to Washington on Sunday in a 3 p.m. game at the Events Center (ESPN2/U). The Huskies (6-6 overall, 1-1 Pac-12) beat Utah on Thursday, 74-68.