Despite leading by as many as 20 in the first half, and heading to the locker room with a 15 point advantage at half time, CU allowed the Bulldogs to climb all the way to a one-possession game with 7-minutes left. Had the Buffs shot free throws as poorly as they had been throughout this season, Fresno would've stolen this game from a CU team that had the win in the bag from the opening tip-off. However, last night the free throws fell to the tune of 84% on 27-32 shooting, and CU held on for a 7-point victory.
The first half, despite a slow start, was almost entirely positive. Shots were falling, play seemed fluid, Fresno couldn't hit the broad-side of a barn with a jump shot (26.7% shooting in the opening frame), and even Shane Harris-Tunks, who had been struggling this season, put together a strong stretch of minutes. The pre-finals crowd was so confident of victory that those who weren't snoozing in their seats had thoughts of leaving early.
The second half struggles, a stark contrast to the final ten minutes of the first half, were largely a result of Fresno St's shooting regressing towards the mean (45% shooting in the second half), and CU's offense continuing to struggle in the half-court against a zone defense. The team continues to pass up open looks, makeable shots from decent outside shooters, which would help break-up the zone. Compounding the stymied offense, CU also gave up 17 turnovers, and continued to look confused on how to guard off of ball-screens (especially infuriating when they leave the one Fresno player who scares you on offense, Kevin Olekaibe, wide open in the final minutes). All-in-all, the Buffs played very poorly for 3/4ths of the final frame.
|Olekaibe and the Bulldogs made a game of it in the second half. From: the BDC|
Team-wide performance was lead by Andre Roberson, who rebounded from his 1-point showing against CSU to drop 21-10, yet another double-double, on the physically undermanned Bulldogs; 'Dre also shot 9-9 (!!!!!!!!!!) from the free throw line. The aforementioned Spencer Dinwiddie provided 15 points, and hit a few clutch jumpers to keep the offense in rhythm, and the defense on its heels. Jeremy Adams continues to improve, donating 8-4 to the cause, and playing a solid stretch of 22 minutes.
|'Dre had a great game, and put painful memories from Ft Collins in his rear-view mirror. From: the BDC|
In the end, a win is a win. The home non-conference win-streak sits at 27. I'll take it, and we'll move on to Friday's matchup with Wyoming. At some point, this team will play a complete 40 minutes. When that happens you'd better have tickets, 'cause it'll be a sight to see.
If you're looking for my thoughts on Damiene Cain's inaugural action in a CU uniform, much like Jeremy Adam's first taste against Georgia, I'm going to reserve thought until he plays more than a handful of minutes. The coaching staff has done a great job in slowly increasing Adams' minutes over the past few games, and I expect the same in Damiene's case.
That Damiene grabbed two points and three boards in only six minutes is encouraging, and his wide-body presence was definitely needed at times, but I need to see more before I start defining his performance. He looks confident and capable, though. To be continued...