The Washington Huskies (8-4, 0-1) kicked off Pac-12 Conference play on the road versus the Colorado Buffaloes, which as of now would be the last conference road game in Boulder, Colorado. The Mountain trip has historically been a grueling road trip and tonight would be no different.
With the pre-game news that All-Pac 12 Forward Tristan Da Silva was scratched from the lineup for Colorado, the Huskies had a golden opportunity to steal away a needed Quad 1 road victory. The Huskies were also without the services of Center Franck Kepnang, who missed his 2nd consecutive game. However, despite a late lead with 6 minutes to go, the Huskies stumbled down the stretch and fell to the Buffaloes by a final score of 73-69.
Both Washington and Colorado came into the game averaging 83 and 86 points per game respectively and both teams came out firing in the first 4 minutes. Sahvir Wheeler got the game started with a quick driving layup for the first points of the game. Keion Brooks and Moses Wood each chipped in a three-pointer while Colorado mostly did damage inside the paint.
The hot shooting would cool off for both teams but Colorado would continue to score inside the paint. Colorado would score 16 of their first 23 points in the paint on drives and dump downs to Center 6’11 260 pound Eddie Lampkin.
After a few quick turnovers by Washington, the Buffaloes would pull out to a 25-17 lead after a pair of KJ Simpson free throws. The Huskies would finally start to get some offense going again and would go on a quick 7-0 run, capped off by a Moses Wood 3 to pull within 1 with 5:05 left in the 1st half.
Colorado would continue to pound the paint and without Franck Kepnang, the Huskies Big men would find themselves in a bit of foul trouble with two early fouls on Wilhelm Breidenbach and Braxton Meah.
The Huskies would have a few chances to take the lead in the last 4 minutes but could not get a shot to drop. Washington had several open looks and shots at the basket but couldn’t get them to fall. The early foul trouble would help put the Buffaloes on the line and would extend their lead to 32 to 26 at halftime.
The first half was filled with either a wide open look or a highly contested shot for the Huskies, not much in between. Rebounding margin was 28 to 16 in Colorado’s favor, largely due to UW’s poor shooting but was significant.
The Huskies Battle Back but Fall Down The Stretch
The 2nd half would pick up mostly where the 1st half left off, with the Huskies struggling to get anything easy near the rim. Wheeler struggled in the first half with 3-12 shooting from the field and was able to get his first shot in the 2nd half to fall but would miss a few more shots near the rim.
Keion Brooks would also have his share of struggles shooting the ball in the first half on 2-7 shooting and would also miss another shot near the rim to start the half as the Huskies were looking for anything to drop.
Braxton Meah has struggled to find a groove in the 23’-24’ season but was able to show some shades of last year with a few inside buckets, including a tough and 1 basket to help cut the Colorado lead. Meah also drew another lane violation, which resulted in a made basket. Otherwise known as the Meah Special.
The Huskies would continue to have a difficult time with Center Eddie Lampkin and Lampkin was punishing the Huskies with rebounds and points in the paint. A key play was Lampkin blocking Braxton Meah on a dunk attempt, who looked like he may had been fouled but Lampkin hustled to the other end and scored on a put back layup. Colorado would pull out to an 8-point lead after a Lampkin free throw with under 10 minutes left.
Keion Brooks would come alive and hit three 2nd half three-pointers to help the Huskies get back in the game. Moses Wood would also add in a pair of threes and all of a sudden the Huskies were able to take their first lead since it was 15-14, at 57 to 56.
The Huskies started to look like they would pull away after a lob dunk to Keion Brooks from his former Kentucky teammate Sahvir Wheeler, which would give the Huskies their largest lead at 63 to 56 with under 6 minutes to go.
The Buffaloes would not go away and went back to the paint to score 6 straight points to pull within 1 almost immediately. The Huskies would start to slow the game down and forced a few tough shots late in the clock, that led to Colorado leak outs and quick scores.
The Huskies would take the lead back briefly on a Sahvir Wheeler mid-range shot to take a 65-64 lead but that would be the last lead for the Huskies. Washington would have a couple of chances to make a stop but were unable to grab the loose ball and the Buffaloes were able to hit a couple of key free throws down the stretch.
Another key play down the stretch was Braxton Meah called for a controversial foul on Lampkin, which looked like a clean block in real-time. Lampkin would hit 2 free throws to take the lead back and Meah would foul out with his 5th foul.
The Huskies would exchange a few baskets and were able to pull within 71-69 with 10 seconds left but no one guarded a leaking J’Vonne Hadley who slammed away the game with a dunk to cement the game by a final score of 73 to 69.
Disappointing finish after the Huskies had a late lead with 6 minutes left but struggled to get any quality shots down the stretch, while Colorado was able to score on consecutive baskets and finished on a 17-6 run.
Keion Brooks would lead the Huskies with 20 points but did not have a shot in the final 4 minutes after helping the Huskies build the earlier lead. Sahvir Wheeler and Moses Wood would chip in 17 and 14 points respectively but on a combined 11-34 shooting and did not receive much help outside of the top 3 scorers.
The Huskies will have to rebound quickly with another tough road test versus the Utah Utes, who dismantled the Washington State Cougars tonight. The Huskies have historically not done well in the 2nd half of the Mountain trip and the Utes will offer a stiff test. The Huskies tip off next Sunday on New Years Eve at 3 pm.