Jeremy Papasso / Staff Photographer
Jeremy Papasso / Staff Photographer
What went right: The Buffs shot 50 percent overall and committed just three turnovers in the first half.
What went wrong: CU’s defense again collapsed in the second half, with Oregon State shooting .560 after the break. The Buffs’ 16-for-26 mark at the free throw line was tough to overcome.
Star of the game: McKinley Wright. The sophomore point guard likely will rue several mistakes in the waning moments, but he still finished 6-for-7 from the floor with 18 points, five rebounds, and four assists.
What’s next: The Buffs’ homestand continues Saturday night against Oregon (7:30 p.m., Pac-12 Network).
It was just a few weeks ago that Colorado men’s basketball coach Tad Boyle was trying to figure out a way to get his club to begin games more efficiently after falling into deep holes at the outset of several early Pac-12 Conference matchups.
Though that problem has been at least temporarily solved, the goal of putting together a full 40-minute game remains an elusive one for the Buffaloes.
For the second consecutive game the Buffs faltered after halftime, this time combining a poor start to the second half with poor execution down the stretch, as Oregon State handed the Buffs a 76-74 defeat Thursday night at the CU Events Center.
Oregon State won in Boulder for just the second time in 11 trips. After allowing Stanford to shoot 72 percent in the second half in a CU road loss last week, the Beavers erased a five-point deficit at the break by reeling off a 10-5 run immediately after halftime. OSU finished with a .560 mark (14-for-25) from the field in the second half.
CU held its biggest lead at nine points with less than three minutes remaining in the first half.
“I think when we’re up at halftime, other teams just want it more than us because we’re losing,” CU guard Shane Gatling said. “I think that’s what it is. We have to come out like we’re down 10 at halftime, or like 22 at Utah. We have to play like we’re losing all the time. I just feel like the other teams just want it more than us in the second half. It can’t be that way.”
In a game that featured 14 ties and 17 lead changes — 11 of those lead changes occurred in the second half — it was Oregon State that was able to execute down the stretch.
A bucket by CU’s Evan Battey secured the last of those ties at 69-69 with about 1 minute, 20 seconds remaining. But the Beavers scored the next five points, getting two free throws from Gligorije Rakocevic with one minute to go and another two free throws from Tres Tinkle with 37.2 seconds left following a turnover from CU’s McKinley Wright.
After a missed 3-pointer from CU sophomore D’Shawn Schwartz, one free throw by OSU’s Stephen Thompson gave the Beavers a 74-69 lead with 23 seconds remaining. A 3-pointer by Wright cut OSU’s lead to 75-74 with 1.8 seconds left, but the Beavers’ Ethan Thompson made one free throw with one second left, and a last-chance have by Wright sailed well high.
The Buffs likely will rue their missed opportunities at the free throw after finishing just 16-for-26. CU also committed eight of its 11 turnovers after halftime, leading to a 14-7 advantage for Oregon State on points off turnovers.
“Same story, different game,” Boyle said. “Same story as what happened at Stanford. Now we’re in Boulder, and we weren’t good enough in the second half. I thought there was a stretch at the end of the first half where I think they scored on four straight possessions. Then the first six or seven possessions of the second half, they got layups. Layup after layup after layup. Our defense just went south.”
The Buffs were hoping a turn in the schedule that has the club playing seven of its final 11 regular-season games at home would lead to a steady climb up the Pac-12 standings. That quest got off to a frustrating start Thursday night, and the Buffs will have less than 48 hours to attempt to rebound against Oregon, which won at Utah Thursday.
“Get better every day and win the next one. That’s what we’ve been focusing on lately,” Gatling said. “We’re preparing for the next game. We’re not preparing for two games ahead, three games ahead. We’re focused on winning the next game and getting better at practice every day. That’s really all we can do right now.”
OREGON ST. 76, COLORADO 74
OREGON ST. (13-7, 5-3)
Kelley 0-2 0-0 0, Tinkle 7-17 4-6 19, E.Thompson 6-11 1-2 14, Reichle 0-3 1-2 1, S.Thompson 6-12 7-12 21, Hollins 3-6 0-0 9, Washington 1-1 0-1 2, Rakocevic 4-4 2-2 10, Vernon 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 27-56 15-25 76.
COLORADO (11-9, 2-6)
Siewert 2-8 0-0 5, Gatling 5-12 2-2 15, M.Wright 6-7 5-8 18, Bey 1-7 2-4 4, Schwartz 1-4 2-2 5, Strating 2-2 1-2 5, Battey 7-9 2-3 16, Parquet 0-0 0-0 0, Kountz 2-3 2-5 6. Totals 26-52 16-26 74.
Halftime — Colorado 40-35. 3-point goals — Oregon St. 7-20 (Hollins 3-3, S.Thompson 2-6, E.Thompson 1-4, Tinkle 1-4, Reichle 0-3), Colorado 6-20 (Gatling 3-7, M.Wright 1-2, Schwartz 1-4, Siewert 1-5, Kountz 0-1, Bey 0-1). Fouled out — Siewert, Tinkle. Rebounds — Oregon St. 28 (Tinkle 8), Colorado 29 (Siewert 8). Assists — Oregon St. 11 (S.Thompson 4), Colorado 15 (Gatling, M.Wright 4). Total fouls — Oregon St. 18, Colorado 20. A — 6,839 (11,064).