The Colorado Buffaloes have started to crumble in recent weeks, losing five of their last six, prior to this matchup with the California Golden Bears, including getting swept up in Oregon last week.

That said, over this cold stretch, a secondary star — Tristan Da Silva — has begun to emerge and take some of the pressure off of K.J. Simpson, and allowing the Buffaloes to fly. Da Silva came up big to keep the Buffaloes above .500, and avoid an embarrassing home loss to the last-place Bears, though the game wasn’t without its hiccups.

Colorado Buffaloes sleepwalk through first half

The Colorado Buffaloes did their best impression of the Russell Wilson-led Denver Broncos through the first half of their Thursday night matchup with the California Golden Bears.

With Cal head coach Mark Fox emphasizing defensive pressure for the Golden Bears, the Buffaloes couldn’t find their footing offensively and had the worst first half of offensive basketball they had experienced all season.

While the Boulder defense stopped the Berkeley boys from running away with it, every time the Buffaloes brought the ball up the court, it felt like pulling teeth.

They shot a paltry 25% from the field in the first half and scored 24 points, both of which were season-worst marks for Tad Boyle’s squad. While points were hard to come by, turnovers were copious for Colorado, as they turned the ball over 10 times in the first half alone.

On top of that, Tristan Da Silva — the Pac-12’s leading scorer and the Colorado Buffaloes’ offensive engine in the month of January, averaging 19.9 points per night — was held to just three in the first half.

K.J. Simpson, the Buffaloes’ other star, who’s averaging 16.3 points per night on the season, tallied just four in the first half. Lawson Lovering, the team’s seven-foot starting center, was shut out of the first half, despite being granted several opportunities by the California Golden Bear defense.

To paint a picture of the offensive ineptitude, the Buffaloes had fewer made field goals than the Golden Bears had blocks through the first 13:30 of this game. In the first 17:30 of this game, the Buffs produced just 17 points, and only seven of those were scored from the field.

Finally, with two minutes left in the half, and Colorado sitting on the wrong end of a depressing 27-17 deficit (yes, believe it or not, that was almost the halftime score of a basketball game, not a football game), the home team sprung to life, and unleashed a barrage of easy buckets. Before the visitors had a chance to catch their breath, CU had gone on a 7-0 run, and had sliced the lead to three.

That turn in momentum would prove crucial to the game’s ultimate outcome.

Tristan Da Silva takes over, rallies Buffs to victory

As the second half began, the Boulder faithful must have been fearful they were in store for more of the same.

After a good defensive stand and a rebound from Lovering, the Buffs drove down the court only to shoot 0-for-2 from the free-throw line, and allowed some easy paint points to the Bears. It looked like Colorado carried their sluggish energy into the second frame, and like a miserable California team was about to complete a season sweep of the superior team from Boulder.

But then, Da Silva took over, and there was no looking back.

He scored each of the next 12 points for the Buffaloes, and singlehandedly led the team on 12-5 run to get them their first lead of the game, at 36-34. It was a moment that further cemented Da Silva’s recent role on the team as the go-to bucket-getter and offensive spark plug.

Then, once CU got the lead, they just continued to pour it on. They held Cal without a bucket for over four-and-a-half minutes, as the Boulder lead stretched to seven, at 41-34. The Golden Bears finally got back on the board, and tightened the score to 43-39, only for the Buffaloes to slide another dagger between their ribs.

Lovering finally got rolling on offense and paired with Da Silva (who finished the game with 20) to uncork an 11-0 run that ultimately sealed the game.

Over the final 22 minutes of gameplay, the Buffaloes had runs of 7-0, 13-0, and 11-0, and defensive stints of 4:30 and 4:45 that saw their opponents fail to score a single point, which changed this game from a blowout in favor of Cal, to a blowout in favor of CU.

Hopefully, this gritty win over an inferior opponent can be the turning point the Colorado Buffaloes have been desperately searching for this season.