Buffaloes rally in second half to dump Cougars

Associated PressColorado forward Evan Battey reacts after blocking a shot by Washington State in the second half of Thursday’s Pac-12 game in Boulder, Colo.

BOULDER, Colo. — It’s been a recurring theme for the Washington State men’s basketball team throughout the season. The Cougars can’t finish opponents when they have the opportunity.

Evan Battey scored 20 points on 7-for-8 shooting and Keeshawn Barthelemy scored 17 points as Colorado beat Washington State 83-78 in a Pac-12 Conference game Thursday at the CU Events Center.

All six of the Cougars’ losses this season have been by a combined 24 points, with all but one of the losses by fewer than five points.

“We made a pretty good effort, but you’re going to have to play well to win on the road, and we didn’t do that,” WSU coach Kyle Smith said.

Jabari Walker scored all 16 of his points in the second half and missed just four of 11 shot attempts. Tristan da Silva added 10 points for the Buffs.

“In the Pac-12, everybody’s got good players,” Smith said. “We’ve got some enthsuiasm, but we’ve got to grow up a little bit. To beat someone on the road, you’ve got to have tremendous effort.”

Colorado (10-3, 2-1) now has an 11-0 record in Boulder against the Cougars (8-6, 1-2), who played without junior guard Noah Williams. Williams, who is averaging 12.8 points per game this season, didn’t make the trip because he is in health and safety protocols. He’s only practiced once since Dec. 22. Smith is hoping he will be available for the 3 p.m. Saturday game at Utah.

“I don’t know if (Williams) would have made a difference,” Smith said. “Anything to help us defensively would be nice, but I don’t want him to have any big expectations.”

It was the Buffaloes’ first game since Dec. 18. after one cancellation and three postponements because of COVID-19 issues. Washington State was playing for the first time since Dec. 22 after a Dec. 29 home game against Washington was postponed because of COVID-19 concerns.

“We’re just a little thin in the backcourt and we were playing those guys a little too many minutes,” Smith said. “I think there was a little rust there. I think we competed, but not well enough.”

The game featured 14 lead changes, but Colorado went on an 11-0 run in a little less than two minutes to go up 66-58 with 8:52 remaining and led the rest of the way.

“We’ve just got to keep punching,” Smith said. “They made a run (in the second half) and we could have easily hung our heads and caved in. But we didn’t. We just didn’t have a better answer. We just couldn’t get enough stops.”

The Cougars led 38-37 at halftime.

Junior guard Tyrell Roberts scored a season-high 25 points on 9-for-20 shooting for Washington State. He said he was happy to snap out of his recent funk.

“A little bit,” Roberts said. “At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if we don’t win the game.”

Roberts also said not being able to finish games could be attributed to the lack of experience on the team.

“We’ve got to stay consistent,” he said. “As a whole, our team is really young. In a situation like this, it really shows.

Sophomore forward Efe Abogidi had 16 points and 10 rebounds, and sophomore guard TJ Bamba added 14 points for the Cougars.

Smith said Abogidi has made tremendous strides so far this season.

I think the expectations are so high,” Smith said. “I think Efe is a much better player than last year, he just doesn’t have as many minutes. It was a good sign today that he played really well. It’s just availability with him. He’s still learning too. He’s improving, and pretty well considering he missed some time. I don’t want to make any excuses for him (because) he played well tonight.”

Colorado 83, Washington St. 78

WASHINGTON ST. (8-6, 1-2)

Gueye 1-2 0-2 2, Jackson 3-6 2-2 8, Bamba 5-10 2-4 14, Flowers 2-10 2-2 7, Roberts 9-20 4-4 25, Abogidi 6-6 4-6 16, Rodman 2-3 1-1 6, Jakimovski 0-2 0-0 0, Koulibaly 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 28-61 15-21 78.

COLORADO (10-3, 2-1)

Battey 7-8 4-6 20, Walker 7-11 2-5 16, da Silva 3-6 2-2 10, Barthelemy 5-12 5-5 17, Parquet 2-6 2-2 6, Clifford 3-6 3-3 9, Hammond 1-4 0-0 2, Lovering 1-2 1-4 3, Simpson 0-1 0-0 0, O’Brien 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 29-56 19-27 83.

Halftime: Washington St. 38-37. 3-Point Goals: Washington St. 7-26 (Roberts 3-10, Bamba 2-4, Rodman 1-2, Flowers 1-9, Jakimovski 0-1), Colorado 6-15 (Battey 2-3, da Silva 2-3, Barthelemy 2-5, Parquet 0-2, Walker 0-2). Fouled Out: Jackson, Abogidi. Rebounds: Washington St. 26 (Abogidi 10), Colorado 28 (Walker 8). Assists: Washington St. 12 (Flowers 5), Colorado 17 (Barthelemy, Parquet, Hammond 4). Total Fouls: Washington St. 25, Colorado 18.

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