It wasn’t a great game in what turned into the finale of the 2021-22 season for Colorado’s Jabari Walker. St. Bonaventure’s highly-decorated defensive star, Osun Osunniyi, was a big reason why.
Walker was limited to just six points and eight rebounds during a stunning 76-68 defeat against the Bonnies on Tuesday night that ended the Buffaloes’ season in the first round of the NIT. Walker finished just 2-for-10 from the field with an 0-for-3 mark on 3-pointers, and much of that defensive damage can be attributed to Osunniyi.
A 6-foot-10 senior forward, Osunniyi is a three-time all-defensive team selection in the Atlantic 10 Conference and has won the league’s defensive player of the award the past two seasons. If Walker, who will mull a decision about possibly entering the NBA draft, has played his final game, Osunniyi’s 10 rebounds and four blocked shots will leave a sour final taste for Walker in a Buffs uniform.
“(Osunniyi) is a great shot blocker. We knew that coming into the game,” CU head coach Tad Boyle said. “We talked about it. Jabari didn’t have his best game. He had six points, which is not him. Two for 10 is not Jabari. He wasn’t his best tonight. But listen, the kid’s been consistent all year long with 17 double-doubles. And the reason I emphasize defense and rebounding so much is for nights when Jabari goes 2-for-10. Because there’s going to be nights like that, and unfortunately it was tonight.”
It was only the second time this season Walker was held to a single-digit point total in a full game, and the first since he scored a season-low four points at Arizona on Jan. 13 (Walker went scoreless against Cal State Bakersfield on Dec. 18, but he played only four minutes before exiting with an injury). Walker did finish without a turnover for just the second time in a full game this season, with both instances occurring over the final three games.
Battey in the books
With his impressive CU career now complete, a look at where senior forward Evan Battey ranks in several categories in the CU record book.
Points: 18th (1,307)
Rebounds: 18th (667)
Games: Fourth (133)
Starts: Eighth (108)
Minutes: 15th (3,313)
“We weren’t locked in ready to play tonight, for whatever reason. I’ve got to look at myself. Maybe I didn’t do a very good job getting our team emotionally ready to play tonight.”
–Boyle, on his team’s emotional letdown against the Bonnies.
Walker on Tuesday was named second team All-District by the National Association of Basketball Coaches. Walker finished the season with 310 rebounds, the 12th-best single-season total in program history…Former Buffs player D’Shawn Schwartz, who scored 20 points against St. Bonaventure in January while playing his extra COVID season at George Mason, was in attendance on Tuesday…CU was the only one of the Pac-12’s three NIT teams to lose its first-round game. Oregon won at Utah State 83-72 and Washington State topped Santa Clara 60-53.