The No. 23-ranked Buffaloes took care of business at home on Thursday evening, posting a dominant 78-56 win over the visiting Washington State Cougars
“(It was) a workmanlike win tonight,” head coach Tad Boyle said. “I thought we were much much better in that second half on many fronts.”
Following their lowest scoring performance of the season against Arizona over the weekend, the Buffs (15-4, 4-2 Pac-12) wanted to put the blowout loss behind them quickly and get off to strong start.
However, Colorado was dealt a rough hand early as minutes before tip-off it was announced that senior forward Lucas Siewert would be making his first start of the season in place of junior guard/forward Tyler Bey who didn’t play because of an injured hand.
Without their second leading scorer the Buffaloes struggled early offensively, forcing Boyle to take a timeout after they quickly found themselves down 10-5 at the 15:55 mark.
“I was on our guys a little bit in that first half,” Boyle said. “I felt like we had some mental kind of miscues that we can’t have happen if we want to compete at the highest level of college basketball.”
The Buffs responded to their coach’s frustration after the timeout. Despite 10 first half turnovers, CU kept chipping away at the lead until sophomore forward Evan Battey gave the Buffs their first lead of 18-17 with 10:14 left in the half.
Defense was almost nonexistent in the opening half as both teams shot over 40 percent from the three-point line. Even with the consistent scoring, WSU wasn’t able to take a lead over two points and thanks to a late run, the Buffaloes took a 38-33 lead into the half.
While the Buffs strong showing on offense in the first half was a collective team effort, Siewert’s play was the most notable considering the circumstance. The senior took advantage of the opportunity to start with nine points and seven rebounds in his first 17 minutes on the floor.
“Coach told me just to go out there and just play my game,” Siewert said. “I’ve started before so, it wasn’t nothing, but it was a little bit of an adjustment.”
CU carried some momentum into the second half and scored a quick seven points to extend its lead to 45-36 with 16:28 left in the game.
“In the second half I think we really turned it up a notch,” Wright said. “We got back to our rebounding and guarded really well.”
Thanks in large part to sophomore forward CJ Elleby, Wazzu was able to stay within striking distance. Elleby scored five of his 15 points early in the final half and helped the Cougars cut the deficit to four at the 12:12 mark.
After Washington State’s run, the Buffaloes responded with a run of their own to take a 15-point advantage with less than seven minutes remaining. Colorado’s hot streak was the final push that the Buffs needed to put the game away.
Junior guard/forward Maddox Daniels was a big contributor late with two big threes to help CU seal the deal.
The Buffs shared the wealth in the win as three players finished the night with a double-double. Siewert had 16 points with 10 boards, Battey made his presence felt with 12 points and 10 rebounds and Wright finished with 10 points and 10 assists.
Junior guard D’Shawn Schwartz also had a meaningful contribution of 13 points on 4-of-10 shooting.
“We only get one crack at Washington State and we took care of that,” Boyle said. “We only get one crack at Washington and we get them Saturday so, we got to move forward with a quick turnaround.”
The Buffs will next host Washington on Saturday, January 25 at 7 p.m. MST at the CU Events Center.
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