After the Colorado Buffaloes went up by as much 19 points near the end of the second half, the Washington State Cougars gave them a run for their money late in the game before the Buffs snuck away with a 68-63 victory.
"We had a 19-point lead and we gave it up," Askia Booker said. "It came down to the last second almost. (DaVonté) Lacy hit a three, and we were only up by three. We can't let it get to that point; it seemed like we didn't have enough energy towards the end and we can't do that Sunday."
After the game, head coach Tad Boyle said that that was not the finish he was hoping for.
"A win's a win, especially in conference play," Boyle said. "It wasn't pretty at the end; obviously, we have to finish better and that kind of put a little damper on this win, but I thought that in the second half, we blew it open to 19 and did what we had to do there. But we didn't finish like we want to or need to."
Two Buffs exploded on offense during Wednesday night's matchup. Junior guard Booker led the team with 26 points, four rebounds, five assists, and three steals. His career high is 27 points. Sophomore forward Xavier Johnson was right behind him with 20 points, 9 rebounds, two steals and a block.
"I usually play off of Spencer (Dinwiddie), but now I'm starting to play off of this man right next to me (Booker)," Johnson said. "Me and him, we have big roles to step into and we have to lead the team."
On top of that, freshman forward Wesley Gordon recorded an impressive four blocks during the game, which was just short of his career-high five blocks.
Sophomore forward Josh Scott, who usually paces the Buffaloes with double-digit scoring, had an off-night thanks to a sore back. By the end of the game, he only managed to score one point and grab one rebound.
"Coach preaches to everybody about rebounding and defense, so that's what I'm trying to do," Johnson said. "And when Josh (Scott) is out, and he's not playing his usual game, then somebody has to step up."
For the game, the Buffs shot 22-50 from the field (44.0%), 6-18 from the three (33.3%), and 18-27 from the foul line (66.7%). The Cougars, on the other hand, weren't nearly as efficient as the Buffaloes. They shot 21-49 from the field (42.9%), 13-27 from downtown (48.1%), and went 8-12 from the free throw line (66.7%)
DaVonté Lacy was the Buffaloes' worst nightmare after he scored over half of WSU's points for the night. By the end of the game, he had acquired 34 points, three rebounds, and two assists. 21 of his points were behind the arc.
"It doesn't matter," Booker said. "I don't care if everybody else had zero (points) and (Lacy) had 50. It came down to a three-point game, and whether it be one man or three people that are hot on their team, we have to find a way to win the game."
The first half started out a little shaky for the Buffs after they went down 5-0 in the opening minutes of the game. At the 17:43 mark, Xavier Johnson ended the dry spell with a bucket and one to put the Buffs on the board, 5-3.
Over the next two minutes, the Buffs and the Cougars went back and forth with three lead changes before the Buffs took over for good. They went up by as many as eight points with 12 minutes left.
But the Cougars weren't ready to give up yet. They responded right away with an 11-3 run over the next eight minutes, tying up the game at 18. But the Buffs never lost their lead.
They closed out the half with a 5-2 run and went into the break with a slight 23-20 lead.
For the half, the Buffs shot poorly on offense. They went 9-23 from the field (39.1%), 3-8 from the three-point range (37.5%), and made 2-3 free throws (66.7%). Otherwise, they played tremendous defense in the first half and caused nine turnovers.
Johnson exploded in the first half after scoring 11 points--nearly half of CU's points--and grabbing two rebounds. Booker was behind him with five points and four rebounds.
The Cougars shot a little better from the field, but the Buffs wouldn't let them take as many shots. The Cougars went 8-20 from the field (40.0%), 4-12 from beyond the arc (33.3%), but they didn't make either of their two free throws.
Davonté Lacy was on fire in the first half after scoring 13 of the Cougars' points and grabbing three rebounds. Prior to Wednesday's game, Lacy averaged 17.1 ppg, and he nearly matched that number in the first half alone.
Going into the second half, the Buffs started to dominate after Askia Booker caught on fire. In the first five and a half minutes of play, Booker scored 12 of Colorado's 13 points and wouldn't stop.
The Buffs went up by as much as 19 points (54-35) in the second half with 6:47 left to play before Washington State started to fight back. They gave the Buffs a run for their money after outscoring them 20-6 over the course of six minutes to get within five, 60-55.
With 3.7 seconds left in the game, Lacy sunk a three-point jumper to get the game to within three points, 66-63. In the end, the Buffs hung on to defeat the Cougars, 68-63.
"It wasn't like they were storming back," Boyle said. "It was just breakdowns, and you got to make free throws...We got to figure it out."
The Buffaloes return to their home court on Sunday, Feb. 9 to take on Washington at 6:00 p.m. and will look to redeem themselves after falling 71-54 in their last matchup against the Huskies.