What went right: CU made the top-seeded Huskies nervous with a fast start and outrebounded UW 44-27.
What went wrong: Too many turnovers. The Buffs committed 18, with the Huskies turning those miscues into 24 points.
Star of the game: Tyler Bey. The sophomore forward finally got on track in his hometown, posting his 15th double-double of the season with 22 points and 16 rebounds.
What's next: The Buffs will find out Sunday about a possible bid to the 32-team NIT.
LAS VEGAS — Washington has buried Colorado with dominant runs several times this season. UW did it again Friday night when it mattered most.
Much like they did in Seattle three weeks ago, the Huskies ambushed the Buffaloes after halftime, pulling away from CU for a 66-61 win in the Pac-12 Conference semifinals at T-Mobile Arena. The Huskies will play in the conference championship game for the first time since 2011.
After reaching the conference semifinals for the first time since 2014, the Buffs will return home and await a possible bid for the NIT, a tourney they have competed in twice under coach Tad Boyle in 2011 and 2017. The 2011 team, Boyle's first at CU, reached the NIT Final Four.
"Washington deserves credit. They played very well, especially defensively," Boyle said. "Thirteen steals, their defense gives a lot of people problems. The key to tonight's game for us was number one was defend. Number two is rebound. Number three is take care of the ball. We did two of those three things very, very well. We talk about defense and rebounding all the time. That was good enough tonight.
"What wasn't good enough was our offense. It started with turnovers, but we also had some really, really good looks, in the second half especially, that didn't go in. You don't want to oversimplify the game, but sometimes you have to make shots. You get open looks, you've got to be able to knock them down."
The Buffs put together a strong start — they scored the game's first eight points and led 33-27 at halftime — but unraveled after the break. UW opened the second half with a 16-2 run, quickly turning that six-point deficit into an eight-point lead. That run soon became 25-5 as the Huskies built a 14-point lead with just under nine minutes remaining.
After shooting .478 in the first half the Buffs went ice cold after halftime, going 6-for-30 with a 2-for-16 mark on 3-pointers. Like that matchup at Seattle, turnovers plagued the Buffs, with Washington turning CU's 18 giveaways into 24 points. The Buffs managed to keep things interesting late, taking advantage of poor free throw shooting by the Huskies to trim that 14-point UW lead to four with 61 seconds remaining, but UW held on down the stretch.
Boyle deflected the notion the Buffs and their short rotation might have hit a wall while playing their third game in as many days.
"Good looks didn't go in. I'm not going to blame fatigue," Boyle said. "Obviously Tyler (Bey) hasn't played heavy minutes the first couple games because of foul trouble and stuff like that. I knew he'd be fresh. McKinley (Wright) was the one guy who played heavy, heavy minutes. He expended a lot of energy on the defensive end. I thought we had enough juice in the tank to win tonight. We just didn't make enough shots and we turned the ball over too much."
After two tough games in his hometown Bey got back on track, leading CU with 22 points and 16 rebounds for his 15th double-double of the season. CU outrebounded Washington 44-27 and held the Huskies to a .396 shooting percentage, though they shot 46 percent after halftime.
"We know what we have here, and the great players we have here. We showed who we are the second half of the season," Wright said. "We know what type of team we are. We just have to jump on people's necks from the start next year."
WASHINGTON 66, COLORADO 61
Battey 3-6 2-2 8, Gatling 1-7 3-4 6, M.Wright 1-10 4-4 7, T.Bey 5-11 12-14 22, Schwartz 3-9 0-2 8, Siewert 2-4 0-0 5, Kountz 2-6 0-0 5. Totals 17-53 21-26 61.
H.Wright 0-1 1-2 1, Dickerson 2-4 3-7 7, Nowell 6-15 1-1 14, Thybulle 4-8 2-2 12, Crisp 3-12 3-6 10, Carter 4-7 5-7 14, Green 2-5 2-2 8, Timmins 0-1 0-0 0, J.Bey 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 21-53 17-27 66.
Halftime — Colorado 33-27. 3-point goals — Colorado 6-24 (Schwartz 2-7, Siewert 1-2, Kountz 1-4, Gatling 1-5, M.Wright 1-6), Washington 7-24 (Green 2-5, Thybulle 2-5, Carter 1-2, Nowell 1-4, Crisp 1-7, H.Wright 0-1). Fouled out — H.Wright, Thybulle, Gatling. Rebounds — Colorado 44 (T.Bey 16), Washington 27 (Dickerson 11). Assists — Colorado 10 (M.Wright 4), Washington 11 (Nowell 4). Total fouls — Colorado 21, Washington 22.