Buffs fall to rival Rams after free throw shooting woes

After a crushing loss to Colorado football earlier in the year, Colorado State looked for some redemption in the Rocky Mountain Showdown — basketball edition — on Wednesday. They got their wish as they won a battle of ugly basketball in Boulder, 72-58.

“Obviously a disappointing night for Buffalo basketball. We let an opportunity slip away that we’ll never have back,” Colorado head coach Tad Boyle said. “They were tougher than us and outplayed us. They deserved to win. We didn’t.”

Throughout much of the first half, the Buffs (5-2) and Rams (6-1) battled in a stalemate after amassing four lead changes and two tie scores. But in the second half, the Buffs consistently shot themselves in the foot from the free throw line and on offense as they shot only 23 percent from the floor.

Up until the last four minutes of the game, the Rams remained immaculate from the line, until Che Bob ruined perfection by clanking a free throw off the back of the rim.

The Buffs, however, couldn’t make a free throw when they needed it most. By the end of the night, they had missed 14-of-31 free throws. They lost by 14.

That gave the Rams plenty of opportunities to cram the Buffs into the hurt locker, and they capitalized on every single one of them.

“Big factor, big factor,” Boyle said. “Obviously it started in the first half, bled over to the second half. That could have gotten us back in the game , tied the score, maybe gotten us a lead. They were much better at the free throw line than we were.”

By the end of the night, the Buffs shot just 32.2 percent from the floor and 54.8 percent from the line. The Rams, however, slightly edged the Buffs on offense with 38.5 percent shooting but obliterated them on the free throws with 78.8 percent.

Derrick White made personal history on Wednesday night, despite the ugly slap in the face the Buffs received, by reaching the 2,000-point milestone of his two-pronged career. After scoring 1,912 points at his former school, University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, White easily surpassed that mark with his first six points of the game. He finished with 17 and now has 99 Buffalo points in seven games.

Only one other Buff managed to garner double digits on offense, and he was just one rebound shy of his second double-double of the year. Senior forward Wesley Gordon finished with 11 points and nine rebounds.

To put the offensive disparity into perspective, the Rams boasted four players in double digits with Emmanuel Omogbo leading the herd (16 points) followed by Nico Carvacho (14), Devocio Butler (13) and J.D. Paige (11).

Throughout the first half, the Buffs and Rams battled hard to get a sizable edge over each other; after a 9-0 run by CU, the Rams put up their own 11-2 run to regain the lead. Although CSU shot poorly throughout the entire first half and rounded it out at 31 percent by the break, the Buffs — who shot 44 percent — just couldn’t shake them.

White entered the game just six points shy of hitting the 2,000-point mark and quickly surpassed the milestone with a three-point shot and a subsequent bucket-and-one not long after.

The Rams led the Buffs 30-27 at the break.

Throughout much of the second half, the Buffs’ defensive woes paled in comparison to their struggles on offense and at the charity stripe. Those woes eventually did them in despite their best efforts to get back in the game, 72-58.

The Buffs head next to Portland on Saturday, Dec. 3 at 8 p.m. to take on the Pilots. The game will be broadcast on 850 KOA.

“I knew coming into this game that the next two weeks would tell us a lot about our team, where we are, because this is kind of the meat of our nonconference schedule. It started tonight, we’ve got Portland on Saturday, we got Xavier next Wednesday and then we’re at BYU,” Boyle said. “We’ll find out where this team is toughness-wise, mental toughness-wise, physical toughness-wise.”

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