CHICAGO — It is a the sort of shot pretty much every young basketball player practices on their own, in vacant driveways and empty gyms.
The clock running down. A shot launched with the game in the balance. Nothing but net.
On Saturday, Colorado junior D’Shawn Schwartz lived the dream shared by all basketball players, as his 3-pointer at the buzzer gave the Buffaloes a thrilling 78-76 overtime win against No. 13 Dayton on Saturday in the first game of the Chicago Legends doubleheader at the United Center.
In a game full of drama and CU heroes — from guard McKinley Wright IV getting booed by the Dayton faithful while playing in front of dozens of family members to Evan Battey’s relentless work on the offensive glass to the post defense of Battey and Tyler Bey on Dayton star Obi Toppin — it was Schwartz’s fifth 3-pointer of the game that made the difference.
Although the win will go down as a neutral-court victory for the Buffs, the heavily Flyers-partisan crowd gave it the feel of a road game for CU. It was the highest-ranked opponent the Buffs have defeated away from home since they topped a sixth-ranked Missouri team in overtime at the 1990 Big Eight Conference tournament.
“It felt like I was in a game of NBA 2K. It was surreal. I can’t even describe it,” Schwartz said. “Coach told us during one of the timeouts that our team is built for games like this. Just going down and getting stops. We knew they were a really efficient offensive team, so we had to just go out there and just lock them up. I think we did a pretty good job of that down the stretch.”
In a game that mirrored the Buffs’ win against Dayton in March in the first round of the NIT, CU persevered during several back-and-forth sequences in overtime and at the end of regulation.
CU was up 66-63 before a Toppin 3-pointer with 5.8 seconds remaining in regulation tied the score, though the Buffs very nearly won it at the regulation buzzer when a Wright 3-point attempt rattled in and out.
Dayton led 74-71 in overtime when Bey trimmed the deficit to one with a pair of free throws at the 1:19 mark. After Battey forced an errant shot from Toppin and grabbed the rebound, Schwartz converted a driving layup to give CU a 75-74 lead with 28.8 seconds left.
Dayton regained the lead on a layup from Jalen Crutcher with 10.5 seconds left. On the Buffs final possession Bey tried to get an open look in the post, but when the Dayton defense collapsed he was able to find Schwartz all alone on the opposite wing for the winning shot.
“I just took my time, really, and I just passed it,” Bey said of the final play. “He was wide open. He was the only person open so I just passed it to him. That shot was big-time.”
Wright posted his sixth career double-double, finishing with 29 points and a career-best-tying 10 rebounds. Schwartz’s five 3-pointers matched the career-high he recorded against Dayton in March, and he finished with a season-high 20 points.
The Buffs will have three days to celebrate the big win at their respective homes before reconvening in Boulder following Christmas. After battling some inconsistencies throughout the first phase of a season expected to feature a return to the NCAA Tournament, knocking off the Flyers could infuse the club with a jolt of confidence with the Pac-12 Conference schedule on the way.
“These guys just gutted up when they had to gut-up in overtime,” CU head coach Tad Boyle said. “The thing I think that made this game special — obviously it was a high-level game, two big time, big time basketball teams in 2019 — to beat a team like Dayton…this is going to show up as a neutral-court game, and it shouldn’t have been. Because this was a road win. These guys knew that coming in. This team trusts each other, and we showed it tonight.”
What went right: The Buffs outrebounded Dayton 42-32 and committed only 10 turnovers, their second-lowest total of the season.
What went wrong: CU shot just .397, and the CU players not named D’Shawn Schwartz went just 2-for-18 on 3-pointers.
Star of the game: D’Shawn Schwartz. The junior’s winning 3-pointer at the buzzer was his fifth 3-pointer of the game, and he finished with a season-high 20 points.
What’s next: The Buffs will have three days off before preparing for a Dec. 29 home date against Iona.
COLORADO 78, NO. 13 DAYTON 76, OT
Chatman 5-10 0-0 12, Crutcher 6-11 5-6 19, Toppin 8-17 0-1 17, Mikesell 3-6 0-0 7, Watson 4-9 0-0 9, Landers 4-6 0-0 8, Tshimanga 0-1 0-0 0, Cohill 1-2 0-0 2, Matos 1-2 0-0 2. Totals 32-64 5-7 76.
Wright 10-22 8-10 29, Schwartz 7-11 1-2 20, Battey 2-7 5-6 9, Bey 5-11 2-2 12, Gatling 0-5 0-0 0, Siewert 1-4 0-0 3, Kountz 2-5 1-1 5, Parquet 0-1 0-0 0, Daniels 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 27-68 17-21 78.
Halftime – Dayton 36-32. 3-Point Goals – Dayton 7-19 (Chatman 2-4, Crutcher 2-5, Mikesell 1-1, Watson 1-2, Toppin 1-6, Matos 0-1), Colorado 7-25 (Schwartz 5-7, Siewert 1-3, Wright 1-8, Kountz 0-1, Parquet 0-1, Daniels 0-2, Gatling 0-3). Rebounds – Dayton 32 (Toppin 7), Colorado 42 (Battey 12). Assists – Dayton 15 (Chatman, Crutcher, Toppin 4), Colorado 15 (Gatling 4). Total Fouls – Dayton 16, Colorado 12.