Jeremy Papasso / Staff Photographer
Jeremy Papasso / Staff Photographer
What went right: The Buffs outrebounded Fort Lewis 45-23, commited just 11 turnovers, and had four players score at least 10 points.
What went wrong: Perimeter defense has been a hot topic for the Buffs early this season, and Fort Lewis’ 17-for-31 performance in the first half included a 7-for-13 mark from 3-point range.
Star of the game: Senior forward Josh Scott once again set the tone inside, finishing with 24 points and 15 rebounds.
What’s next?: The Buffs visit state rival Colorado State at noon on Sunday.
It’s not as if the Colorado Buffaloes were not aware of what was coming.
Coach Tad Boyle warned his club repeatedly. Fort Lewis might be a Division II program, but the Skyhawks are a sharp-shooting bunch that is expected to compete for the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference championship.
They also boasted a coach in Bob Hofman who not only is retiring after 20 seasons at Fort Lewis, but who also was making his final appearance on the bench at a venue he called home as a CU guard in the early 1970s.
The combination of emotion and opportunity allowed the upset-minded Skyhawks to make things uncomfortable for the host Buffs on Wednesday night, but ultimately CU was able to pull away for its sixth consecutive win with a 95-71 victory at the Coors Events Center.
“We talked about it before the game, we talked about it with our team yesterday, we talked about it at the shoot-around this morning — this is their Super Bowl,” CU coach Tad Boyle said. “These guys came in loose and free and (with) nothing to lose. And they played like it. We knew they’re capable of making shots and they did make shots.
“I thought defensively we did a better job of getting through screens and being aware away from the ball in the second half. A hard-fought win but credit Fort Lewis. They played well.”
Fort Lewis used a .548 shooting performance (17-for-31) during the first half to remain within two of the Buffs at the break, and a quick basket after halftime left CU in a 46-46 tie.
CU responded with a 9-2 run and steadily built a comfort zone the rest of the way, using a late 21-4 run to make the lopsided final score far less indicative of how competitive the contest truly was.
“I won’t say that it was totally was on our perimeter players — they made some tough shots, but I also think we aided and allowed them to feel comfortable and allowed them to get off to a good start,” CU senior Josh Scott said. “When you let a team like that think that they can play with you, they’re going to keep shooting them and feel good. We have to get better out there, because we’re going to play better guards than we played tonight.”
Scott continued his recent hot streak for the Buffs by recording a double-double, matching his season-high with 24 points and adding 15 rebounds. Four players reached double-figure points for CU, with Josh Fortune making 3-of-4 3-point shots before finishing with 17 points. Tre’Shaun Fletcher scored 13 points and tallied a career-high seven assists.
CU shot 20-for-32 (.625) in the second half and finished with a .552 mark from the floor overall.
“Some of it was Fort Lewis making shots, and some of it was us giving them open looks. It’s a combination of both,” Boyle said. “I think our perimeter guys are trying. But again, I thought our awareness away from the ball and our pressure on the ball in the second half was better than the first half.”
COLORADO 95, FORT LEWIS 71
FORT LEWIS (5-0)
Haldorson 4-5 0-0 9, Salcido 3-5 1-1 7, Blaylock 5-11 2-3 13, Kloster 3-7 0-1 9, Smith 3-4 0-0 8, Semadeni 2-4 0-0 4, Morse 2-6 2-2 8, Josephs 4-12 1-4 11, Lucero 0-0 0-0 0, Brooks 0-3 0-0 0, Martinez 0-0 0-0 0, Buchman 1-4 0-0 2. Totals 27-61 6-11 71.
Gordon 3-6 2-4 8, Scott 11-15 2-2 24, Fletcher 4-7 2-2 13, Collier 2-5 4-4 9, Fortune 6-9 2-2 17, Akyazili 1-5 0-1 3, Talton 1-2 0-0 2, Stalzer 0-0 0-0 0, Lombard 0-0 0-0 0, Guzonjic 1-2 0-0 2, Miller 5-8 0-0 10, King 2-6 0-0 5, Brady 1-1 0-0 2, Repine 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 37-67 12-15 95.
Halftime — Colorado 46-44. 3-point goals — Fort Lewis 11-26 (Kloster 3-6, Smith 2-2, Morse 2-3, Josephs 2-8, Haldorson 1-2, Blaylock 1-3, Brooks 0-2), Colorado 9-18 (Fortune 3-4, Fletcher 3-5, Collier 1-2, Akyazili 1-2, King 1-3, Repine 0-1, Gordon 0-1). Fouled out — Semadeni. Rebounds — Fort Lewis 23 (Morse 4), Colorado 45 (Scott 15). Assists — Fort Lewis 12 (Morse 4), Colorado 23 (Fletcher 7). Total fouls_Fort Lewis 16, Colorado 17. A_7,587.