What went right: CU went 7-for-19 on 3-pointers and held San Diego to a .367 mark from the floor.
What went wrong: The Buffs were outrebounded 41-35 and went just 9-for-15 at the free throw line.
Star of the game: Evan Battey. The redshirt freshman enjoyed a breakout game with 18 points and four rebounds.
What’s next: The Buffs visit Air Force on Saturday (4 p.m., AT&T Sports Net).
SAN DIEGO — This one will sting.
Unable to get the defensive stops they needed down the stretch while also surrendering far too many offensive rebounds, the Colorado men’s basketball team dropped a 70-64 decision at the University of San Diego’s Jenny Craig Pavilion.
It is the second straight year the Toreros have topped the Buffaloes, who used a big surge after halftime to take an eight-point lead but were unable to maintain that advantage down the stretch. After building a 45-37 lead with 12 minutes remaining, San Diego outscored Colorado 33-19 the rest of the way.
“San Diego had a lot to do with that. They’re a quality team with veteran players,” CU coach Tad Boyle said. “They don’t get rattled. They’re not a team that’s going to beat themselves. But really what it comes down to is when you’re up eight, and that lead is shrunk, you’re not getting stops.
“Our first-shot defense was great. We held them to 36 percent and I was pleased with our defense. What lost this game for us was two things — our execution on offense down the stretch and second shots.”
The Buffs committed 14 turnovers, with point guard McKinley Wright accounting for five of them. The Toreros turned those giveaways into nine points, the same total CU produced off San Diego’s 14 turnovers, but it was the Toreros’ 11 second-chance points off 15 offensive rebounds that made the difference.
“I think it starts with taking care of the ball and rebounding,” Wright said. “We got great looks every time down the court. We might have rushed it a little bit. I rushed a few and normally I’m not like that. Just rebounding the ball was huge for us tonight. We gave them too many offensive rebounds.”
Though San Diego recovered from the Buffs’ quick salvo after halftime, CU still had plenty of chances down the stretch.
Five straight points from Wright on a 3-point play followed by a pair of free throws gave the Buffs a 61-60 lead with 1 minute, 56 seconds left. But San Diego scored the next six points, and after a Shane Gatling 3-pointer cut the deficit to two points with 22 seconds left, the Toreros went 4-for-4 at the free throw line in the final 18 seconds to ice the win.
The Buffs stormed out of the gate after halftime, taking a 45-37 lead with 12 consecutive points in a 15-3 run. At the other end of the floor, CU forced to the Toreros into missing 11 of their first 12 shots after halftime. But it was momentum the Buffs couldn’t sustain.
San Diego chipped away and eventually tied the game at 54-54 on a 3-point play from Isaiah Pineiro, who finished with a game-high 27 points.
Evan Battey enjoyed a breakout game for the Buffs, finishing with a team-high 18 points and four rebounds. Wright recorded 14 points, seven rebounds and six assists but has now posted five turnovers in consecutive games. The Buffs shot .421 overall but were outrebounded 41-35.
“Our defense was good enough tonight. Our rebounding was not,” Boyle said. “The pillars of this team are those two things. It’s not either-or. It’s both. And if we do both tonight we win this game. But we didn’t and we came up a little short.”
SAN DIEGO 70, COLORADO 64
Siewert 3-9 0-0 7, Gatling 2-6 2-3 8, M.Wright 5-13 3-4 14, Bey 3-4 0-0 6, Schwartz 0-2 0-0 0, Strating 0-0 0-0 0, Battey 7-13 2-6 18, Brown 2-3 0-0 5, Kountz 1-2 0-0 2, N.Wright 1-4 2-2 4, Parquet 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 24-57 9-15 64.
SAN DIEGO (4-1)
Pineiro 9-19 6-6 27, Massalski 3-4 1-4 7, I.Wright 1-8 2-2 4, Williams 1-7 2-2 5, Carter 7-15 4-4 22, Floresca 1-2 1-1 3, Martinez 0-2 2-2 2, Calcaterra 0-1 0-0 0, Sullivan 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 22-60 18-21 70.
Halftime — San Diego 35-30. 3-point goals — Colorado 7-19 (Gatling 2-3, Battey 2-3, Brown 1-2, Siewert 1-3, M.Wright 1-5, Parquet 0-1, Bey 0-1, Schwartz 0-1), San Diego 8-25 (Carter 4-9, Pineiro 3-5, Williams 1-4, Floresca 0-1, Sullivan 0-1, Martinez 0-1, I.Wright 0-4). Fouled out — Pineiro, Bey, Schwartz. Rebounds — Colorado 29 (Bey 8), San Diego 39 (Massalski 14). Assists — Colorado 12 (M.Wright 6), San Diego 12 (Massalski 5). Total fouls — Colorado 25, San Diego 18. A — 1,880.