BOULDER - The Colorado Buffaloes lost in heartbreaking fashion on Friday night in the Coors Events Center. Lorenzo Bonam of Utah drove to the basket as the clocked ticked towards zero, elevated and threw in a left-handed layup of the outstretched arms of Josh Scot to lift the Utes over the Buffaloes, 56-54.
"I tip my hat to Lorenzo Bonam, he made a big-time play at the end," head coach Tad Boyle said after the game. "You can blame this loss on the coach for not calling a timeout at the end and making sure we got a great shot. I'm kicking myself for it since we had one left."
The possession Boyle is alluding to occurred with 45 seconds left in the game, the Buffs had the ball with the score tied at 54 but couldn't get anything going out of their motion offense. The possession ended when Josh Fortune blindly drove the baseline and got stuck, causing him to attempt to force a pass to the corner which was intercepted, leading to the game-winning bucket for the Utes.
When all was said and done, Utah had closed the game on an 11-2 run over the last 5:35 to beat the Buffs. It's become a trend for the Colorado "O" to shut down late in close games, and a concerning one at that.
"We have to execute and finish better," Boyle said. "It's something we work on in practice and something we will continue to work on in practice... Players have to make plays down the stretch. Their guys made some plays and we didn't make plays."
Despite the late-game meltdown, Boyle actually seemed pleased with he way his team played as they did outrebound the Utes by seven and hold them to 40 percent from the floor.
"I thought our defense was terrific," he told. "Holding them to 56 points is a good defensive effort. We just didn't make enough plays."
"There's going to be a lot of games like this going forward," Boyle added. "We just need to figure out how to come out on the winning end of these games."
That's the truth, the Buffaloes have now lost their four best chances at a "big" win and they are going to have to start adding some to the resume if they're going to get where they want to be in March.
The 6-foot-4 junior for the Utes was nails all game for Utah, not just for the last possession. Bonam lead the Utes with 17 points on 7-of-12 from the floor, showcasing a plethora of tough finishes around the rim. On a night where Josh Scott completely shut down Jakob Poeltl, the Utes needed somebody else to fill in and Bonam was their man.
Honorable mention: Josh Scott
Scott had just 10 points on the offensive end, but he absolutely locked down, Pac-12 Player of the year favorite, Jakob Poeltl on the defensive end making Poeltl uncomfortable from the start and holding him to six points on 2-of-8. It was a performance that had Tad Boyle singing his praises after the tough loss.
"I wouldn't trade Josh Scott for any big man in the country," he said, stone-faced.