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Losing streak reaches three as Colorado men’s basketball falls to Washington

Huskies drop CU to 3-6 in Pac-12 Conference play

Colorado's J'Vonne Hadley, right, goes to the basket against the Washington Huskies' Braxton Meah on Thursday night in Boulder. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)
Colorado’s J’Vonne Hadley, right, goes to the basket against the Washington Huskies’ Braxton Meah on Thursday night in Boulder. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

Snapshot: Washington Huskies 75, CU Buffs MBB 72

Turning point: CU never led following a 4-2 advantage in the early moments, and every Buffs push during the second half was answered by a key bucket or mini-run by the Huskies.

Buff of the game: Julian Hammond III. The sophomore guard from Cherry Creek went 8-for-8 at the free throw line while scoring a career-high 18 points. Hammond was 2-for-5 on 3-pointers and also had three assists, two steals and three turnovers in 20 minutes.

What’s next?: The Buffs’ two-game homestand concludes on Sunday against Washington State (4 p.m., ESPNU).

Getting back to the CU Events Center has more often than not brought out the best in the wildly inconsistent Colorado men’s basketball team this season.

Not this time.

CU’s struggles continued on Thursday against visiting Washington, as the Huskies handed the Buffaloes a 75-72 defeat. CU has lost three consecutive games for the first time this season and fell deeper into the bottom half of the Pac-12 Conference standings.

It was turnovers that crushed the Buffs while getting swept on the road last week in Los Angeles, but this time it was a generous defense and an absent shooting touch that doomed Colorado against the Huskies. Washington shot .636 in the second half and .540 overall.

“Disappointing. That’s the only thing I can say that this was a really, really disappointing loss,” CU head coach Tad Boyle said. “We score 72 points at home. It’s good enough to win. There’s a lot of ways to look at this game to see how we lost it. You can look at the free throw line. Our defense in the second half, they shoot almost 64% in our building in the second half.

“We just couldn’t get over the hump. We couldn’t make shots. We had some really, really good looks I thought in the lane. We had some really good looks from three that didn’t go in.”

UW led through most of the first half and held a 33-26 lead at halftime. The Huskies pushed their lead to 13 points on a Keion Brooks 3-pointer with more than 13 minutes remaining, and while the Buffs made a few dents in the Huskies’ advantage, UW always mustered a response.

CU put together five consecutive points to get within six points, only to watch UW pad its lead with a 9-2 run. A few minutes later the Buffs used a 10-3 run to get back within six, but UW’s Cole Bajema answered with a 3-pointer. The Buffs got within five or six on several more occasions down the stretch but didn’t make it a one-possession game until a 3-pointer from CU’s Julian Hammond III cut the deficit to 71-68 with 1:50 to go.

Two free throws from Hammond followed by a driving basket from KJ Simpson got the Buffs within 73-72 with 43.4 seconds remaining. CU’s defense then forced a turnover, but the Buffs were denied a chance to put up a potential go-ahead shot when Simpson threw the ball out of bounds with 6.2 seconds left. Bajema hit two free throws with 4.7 seconds to go, pushing UW’s lead back to three points, but once again the Buffs didn’t even get off a desperation three-point attempt thanks the last of their 13 turnovers.

Brooks went 9-for-12 and led the Huskies with 25 points.

“It started from the get-go I feel like. We didn’t come out in the first half like we were supposed to,” CU forward Tristan da Silva said. “That kind of sluggishness kind of continued through the whole game. They got good players, so we’ve got to make sure we’re locked in from the get-go and make sure we guard the way that we have to to stop them.”

Hammond paced the Buffs with a career-high 18 points and da Silva added 17, although he struggled to an 8-for-21 mark from the floor. Hammond was 8-for-8 at the free throw line but the rest of CU’s team was just 5-for-12. The Buffs also finished 3-for-19 on 3-pointers.

UW entered the game ranked ninth in the Pac-12 with a .315 3-point percentage but went 9-for-20 against the Buffs (.450).

“I can look at any facet of the game. But I’m going to watch this film, and I’m going to tell you, it’s going to come down to defense,” Boyle said. “Our defensive miscues. Sixty-four percent field goal percentage defense in our building. Loss.”

Washington 75, Colorado 72

WASHINGTON (12-8, 4-5 Pac-12)

Brooks 9-12 4-4 25, Meah 4-5 2-2 10, Bajema 2-8 2-3 8, Menifield 4-7 0-0 10, Williams 3-8 0-1 7, K.Johnson 3-7 2-2 9, Fuller 2-3 2-2 6, Grant 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 27-50 12-14 75.

COLORADO (11-9, 3-6)

da Silva 8-21 0-0 17, Lovering 2-2 1-4 5, Clifford 2-5 0-0 4, Hadley 2-6 3-4 7, Simpson 5-11 1-2 11, O’Brien 4-6 0-2 8, Wright 1-3 0-0 2, Hammond 4-10 8-8 18. Totals 28-64 13-20 72.

Halftime — Washington 33-26. 3-point field goals — Washington 9-20 (Brooks 3-5, Menifield 2-3, Bajema 2-5, K.Johnson 1-3, Williams 1-3, Fuller 0-1), Colorado 3-19 (Hammond 2-5, da Silva 1-3, Wright 0-1, O’Brien 0-2, Clifford 0-3, Simpson 0-5). Fouled Out — K.Johnson. Rebounds — Washington 31 (Meah 12), Colorado 33 (da Silva 7). Assists — Washington 13 (Williams, K.Johnson 3), Colorado 12 (Simpson, Hammond 3). Total Fouls — Washington 17, Colorado 15. A — 6,974.