PULLMAN, Wash. — The three-game road trip began with such promise, as Colorado posted the sort of gritty road win that can propel a young, up-and-coming team into NCAA Tournament contention.
The trip ended with consecutive duds that have put those tournament aspirations on life support.
The shorthanded Buffaloes simply had nothing in the tank on Sunday night at Washington State, with the Cougars pouncing early before handing the Buffs a 70-43 defeat at Beasley Coliseum.
It was the Buffs’ lowest scoring total since a 56-33 defeat at Wyoming on Nov. 22, 2014.
“I used the adjectives ‘disappointed’ and ‘pathetic’ (at Washington). Tonight the adjective is ‘embarrassed,’” CU head coach Tad Boyle said. “We embarrassed ourselves. We embarrassed the university. We embarrassed the Pac-12. It was an embarrassing performance. We embarrassed every former player that’s ever worn the Colorado uniform tonight. We’ve got to figure why. And we’ve got to make sure it never happens again. That’s my challenge.”
On Wednesday, the Buffs woke up on the heels of a stirring comeback victory at Oregon that gave CU a significant push in the NET rankings with two seemingly more winnable road games ahead. By the end of Sunday night’s debacle the Buffs were without two regular starters and were forced to limp home on the heels of losses at Washington and Washington State that provided few, if any, bright spots.
While starting sophomore forward Tristan da Silva missed his second consecutive game due to a COVID issue, senior guard Elijah Parquet missed Sunday’s game despite being in uniform during the early warm-ups. Parquet came off the bench for the first time this season at Oregon and started at Washington after missing the previous week’s home games against USC and UCLA due to a lower leg injury.
“It’s tough when you don’t have those guys out there with us, you look at the bench and you’re noticing not everybody is with us,” CU freshman guard KJ Simpson said. “But that’s not something we can dwell on. We can’t focus or complain on that as the reason that we lost. Everyone’s here for a reason and it’s just next guy up. We’ve just got to do a better job of stepping up. Them being out is not an excuse.”
The game was tied 5-5 in the early moments before Washington State took off, reeling off an 18-1 run — scoring the final 12 of those points in a row — that put the Buffs in a chasm-like hole. CU trailed 39-18 at halftime and posted a .259 mark from the field during the first half, the Buffs’ lowest shooting percentage in any half this season.
Overall, CU finished with a season-low field goal percentage of .286 while committing 16 turnovers — the fifth consecutive game in which the Buffs have posted at least 16 giveaways. After outrebounding the Cougars by 10 during CU’s home win in Boulder on Jan. 6, which was the largest deficit among the four times this year WSU has been outrebounded, the Cougars posted a 39-30 edge on the glass on Sunday.
Even in defeat this season, CU more often than not has done a commendable job of battling their way back into games after rough starts. On Sunday, the Cougars quickly took the fight out of the Buffs.
“We just didn’t have that fight,” CU senior Evan Battey said. “I don’t know why. We’ll look it up on film and see where it all lies. I don’t know if our guys are feeling sorry for themselves. I don’t know if our guys are missing the people that are out. It doesn’t matter. We have to live in a world of truth. That’s part of it. It’s part of being a basketball player. You have to take the highs and lows. And when you do take the lows, you have to get it back high. Tonight, it just didn’t happen.”
What went right: Nothing, and putting anything in this space would be a stretch.
What went wrong: Everything. CU shot a season-low .286 and allowed WSU to go 12-for-28 on 3-pointers. The Buffs committed 16 turnovers and were outrebounded 39-30.
Star of the game: Jabari Walker. The sophomore forward went 5-for-9 with 11 points and eight rebounds.
What’s next: The Buffs return home from their three-game road trip and will try to regroup ahead of Thursday’s home date against Oregon (8 p.m., FS1).
Washington St. 70, Colorado 43
COLORADO (13-8, 5-6 Pac-12)
Battey 2-9 0-0 5, Walker 5-9 1-2 11, Barthelemy 2-6 0-0 5, Clifford 3-9 0-0 8, Simpson 1-7 2-2 4, Hammond 1-6 2-2 5, O’Brien 1-6 0-1 3, Loughlin 1-4 0-0 2. Totals 16-56 5-7 43.
WASHINGTON ST. (12-7, 5-3 Pac-12)
Gueye 2-5 0-0 5, Abogidi 4-8 0-0 9, Flowers 6-9 0-0 16, Roberts 4-7 0-0 10, Williams 3-10 4-6 10, Jakimovski 4-8 2-3 14, Rodman 2-3 0-0 4, DeWolf 0-0 0-0 0, Koulibaly 1-3 0-0 2, Rapp 0-0 0-0 0, Burghardt 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 26-53 6-9 70.
Halftime – Washington St. 39-18. 3-Point Goals – Colorado 6-18 (Clifford 2-4, Battey 1-2, O’Brien 1-2, Barthelemy 1-4, Hammond 1-5, Simpson 0-1), Washington St. 12-28 (Flowers 4-7, Jakimovski 4-8, Roberts 2-4, Gueye 1-2, Abogidi 1-3, Koulibaly 0-1, Rodman 0-1, Williams 0-2). Rebounds – Colorado 30 (Walker 8), Washington St. 39 (Abogidi 11). Assists – Colorado 8 (Simpson 5), Washington St. 12 (Flowers 5). Total Fouls – Colorado 11, Washington St. 13. A – 2,647.