CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — Colorado coach Tad Boyle always has a backup plan. The Buffaloes sure needed it Friday to take down No. 16 Baylor at the Charleston Classic.
Boyle knew his young players struggled from the foul line and watched them do it again, going 4 for 18 against Baylor.
“That’s when you rely on defense and rebounding,” he said, smiling.
The Buffaloes (3-0) got plenty of both to defeat the Bears 60-58 and advance to the championship of the eight-team tournament Sunday night. Not that it was easy to stomach down the stretch. Andre Roberson and Spencer Dinwiddie each missed in one-and-one situations, the usually reliable Booker was just 1 of 2 from the line and Roberson missed two more – all within the game’s last 61 seconds.
All of it gave the Bears a chance to steal this one away.
Baylor’s final chance ended when 7-foot-1 Isaiah Austin was off the mark on a catch-and-shoot prayer with a second left.
“They weren’t making free throws but we weren’t rebounding from the free-throw line,” Baylor coach Scott Drew said. “I think it was two teams that wanted to win bad that didn’t have postseason execution, but had early-season execution.”
Askia Booker scored 19 points to lead Colorado, which earned a measure of payback for last March, when the Bears (3-1) knocked them out in the NCAA tournament’s third round.
“We fought through the whole game because we know they’re going to make shots,” said Booker, who scored 15 points in the NCAA loss to Baylor. “It’s going to come down to who wants it more.”
Baylor star Pierre Jackson had just 12 points after scoring 31 in an opening-round win here against Boston College.
Cory Jefferson led the Bears with 17 points on 7-of-8 shooting. Austin finished with eight points and 12 rebounds.
Dinwiddie added 11 for Colorado, while Roberson had seven points and 13 rebounds, his second straight tournament game with double-digit boards.
Roberson and the Buffaloes had to be strong on the glass with so many missed free throws. Roberson missed a one-and-one try with 1:01 to go and Colorado ahead 59-56.
Jackson’s bucket with 19.8 seconds left drew Baylor within a point.
Dinwiddie next went to the line for Colorado and he, too, missed a one-and-one. But Shane Harris-Tunks came up the rebound for the Buffaloes, and Booker was fouled.
He made only one attempt and Baylor was on the run. A.J. Walton was short on his driving shot, though, and Roberson collected the rebound and got fouled to set up the final moments.
Baylor had hoped to duplicate what it accomplished against Colorado in March in an 80-63 victory. But those Bears were loaded with tall, strong, talented players like Quincy Acy, Quincy Miller and Perry Jones III to get going down low. Brady Heslip helped outside with nine 3-pointers in that one.
This time, Heslip was off the mark, making just one of his six 3-point tries.
Booker said the Buffaloes took extra care to slow down Heslip, who they watched connect for 27 points in the NCAA win. The emphasis, Booker said, was to work through screens and not let Heslip get going with his outside shot.
Booker said Colorado accomplished a big goal of its trip South in defeating Baylor. The next step, he said, is leaving with the Charleston Classic championship.
“This last one’s going to be very important,” he said. “We didn’t want to just beat Baylor, we want to win the whole thing.”
Baylor falls to the third-place game Sunday afternoon. Drew knew his club would have early growing pains, melding five freshmen into what had been an experienced, savvy team last fall.
Drew said he took on this tournament to put his younger players into difficult situations so they’ll feel more comfortable when the games get bigger later in the season.
“But right now, unfortunately, we might pick up some losses like today,” Drew said.