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Recap and highlights: Colorado grinds out 58-52 win over Washington State in Pac-12 semifinals

Mar. 15—LAS VEGAS — On the walk to T-Mobile Arena, the site of his Washington State team's Pac-12 Tournament semifinal against Colorado Friday night, Kyle Smith realized something: He forgot his glasses. He had just wrapped up a short TV interview, previewing the Cougars' last hurdle to their first tournament title game appearance ever, when he understood what it meant.

"This play card is useless," he quipped, joining his team on the stroll through the tunnels, snaking all the way back to the locker room.

Smith is farsighted, which means he has trouble seeing things closer to his eyes. He might not have been able to see the sheet of notes he keeps in hand during games, but he had a better view of the court, where WSU bowed out of the tournament with a 58-52 loss to Colorado.

The Cougars lost because their offense never got going. They lost 19 turnovers, which the Buffaloes turned into 16 points, and they shot 42% for the game. All night, they struggled to defend the paint, where third-seeded Colorado bloodied and bludgeoned its way to 34 points, which changed the complexion of the game.

In its lowest scoring output of the season, second-seeded Washington State (24-9) got 13 points from forward Isaac Jones, 11 from wing Jaylen Wells and 10 from guard Myles Rice — but little else. Senior wing Andrej Jakimovski hardly looked like himself, nursing a shoulder injury that surely limited him in a 4-point outing, and the Cougs got nearly nothing out of centers Oscar Cluff and Rueben Chinyelu, who combined for 6 points.

Still, Washington State had chances. On two occasions in the second half, Rice had the ball with a chance to draw within two on fast breaks, and turned it over twice. On one, his behind-the-back pass was intercepted. On the other, a Colorado player poked it away from behind. Moments later, he clanged a wing triple, his 21st straight miss from deep.

Colorado made WSU pay. After Rice's miss, CU guard J'Vonne Hadley got past Jakimovski for a layup plus the foul, helping his group push its lead to 46-42. That lead was hardly insurmountable — forward Isaac Jones tipped in a Rice miss to cut the deficit to 2, and he tied the game at 46-all with a floater over Lampkin — but it was a sequence that typified the Cougs' inability to string together the kinds of plays they needed to win.

Still, this one came down to the wire. Jones used a floater to hand WSU its first lead since midway through the first half, 50-49, only for Colorado to retake it with two free throws on the other end, 51-50. Seconds later, Rice had nowhere to go with the ball and threw it away, leading to a bucket from Hadley, who handed the Buffaloes a 53-50 lead with 2:13 left, prompting a timeout from Smith.

Then, after WSU guard Kymany Houinsou helped his crew draw within one with a layup, things went downhill for the Cougars. CU guard Luke O'Brien posted his first points of the game, a driving floater, good for a 55-52 lead. The Cougs followed with a stale offensive trip that ended when Wells stepped out of bounds, their 18th turnover of the night.

But Washington State retained a chance to win. On the other end, CU turned it over. But Wells couldn't connect on a 3, and WSU had to foul to stop the clock.

Colorado guard KJ Simpson missed the front end of a 1-and-1, giving WSU an opportunity to tie the game. CU fouled Wells, who also missed the front end of a 1-and-1, handing it back to the Buffaloes, who put the game out of reach with a free throw from Lampkin.

Washington State remains a lock for the NCAA Tournament. The only question involves the Cougars' seeding. As of Friday morning, most national projections saw WSU earning a 6 or 7 seed, which likely wouldn't be good enough to land at the Spokane site. That projection might take a hit in the days to come.

That much will be settled during the tournament selection show, set for 3 p.m. Sunday.

BOX SCORE

First half

13:00 — WSU 11, CU 10: Cold start for the Buffaloes, who respond with a couple shots after five-straight misses. WSU opens 5 of 12 from the field, behind four points from Cluff. Both teams crashing the offensive glass.

Pretty free-flowing action, as the first media timeout comes after seven minutes.

11:41 — WSU 13, CU 12: Buffs briefly take the lead, but Chinyelu slams a dunk to regain it. CU loses its fourth turnover at the U12 media timeout.

7:52 — WSU 17, CU 16: Back-and-forth as Rice gives the Cougars the lead again. He and Cluff lead with four points apiece.

Da Silva leads CU with eight. The Buffaloes are 0 of 5 from 3, WSU is 1 of 6. CU ball on the other end of the U8 media timeout.

3:25 — CU 23, WSU 20: Wells called for a turnover at the U4 media timeout. Lampkin is going to work in the paint for the Buffaloes, he has four points and four rebounds after scoring on consecutive possessions.

Halftime

Colorado put together a strong defensive effort to take a 27-23 lead over Washington State at halftime of the Pac-12 Tournament semifinals in Las Vegas.

Neither team scored a fast break point and had to get almost everything inside.

Colorado made just 1 of 8 3-point attempts and scored 20 points in the paint. WSU was 2 of 9 from 3 and scored 14 points inside.

Tristan Da Silva leads CU with eight points, while Eddy Lampkin adds six points and five rebounds.

Jaylen Wells and Myles Rice lead WSU with six points apiece.

Second half

15:22 — CU 36, WSU 27: Buffaloes jump out to a 9-4 advantage in the second half and Cluff is called for an offensive foul at the U16 media timeout.

Cougars did catch a break with Lampkin picking up two quick fouls and heading to the bench. Simpson with five of his team-high 12 points in the second half.

11:48 — CU 40, WSU 33: Houinsou makes a layup and the Cougars get a heldball on the other end to signal the U12 media timeout. Buffaloes retain possession. Cougars not taking advantage with Lampkin on the bench.

7:43 — CU 47, WSU 42: Cougars claw back to down 2, but the Buffaloes extend their lead with a layup from Hadley at the U8 media timeout. Jakimovski is called for a foul on the play.

Turnovers still killing WSU, up to 16 in the game.

3:25 — CU 49, WSU 48: Hadley is called for an offensive foul at the U4 media timeout and the Cougars will have a chance to take the lead when play resumes. WSU missed two shots to take the lead on its last possession.

2:11 — CU 53, WSU 40: Da Silva steals it and Hadley scores a layup to put the Buffaloes back ahead. WSU calls a timeout.

0:50 — CU 55, WSU 52: Wells travels at a bad time for WSU, its 18th turnover of the game and the Buffaloes call timeout. Big possession coming up.

0:12 — CU 55, WSU 52: Wells gets a shot to tie, but he misses and the Cougars send the Buffaloes to the free throw line.

0:04 — CU 56, WSU 52: Wells gets to the line but misses and Lampkin hits one of two on the other end. WSU calls a timeout, but the Buffaloes should win this one now.

Tipoff has been delayed due to Oregon-Arizona running long.

Pregame

Round 1 was a roaring success. Washington State's next challenge comes with uncharted territory.

The second-seeded Cougars take on the No. 3 seed Colorado Buffaloes in the Pac-12 Tournament semifinals tonight at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Tipoff is set for 7:30 p.m. on FS1.

WSU can clinch its first trip to the Pac-12 title game with a victory. The Cougars (24-8, No. 22 AP) are coming off a 79-62 rout of Stanford in the quarterfinals, while the Buffaloes (23-9) blew past Utah 72-58.

Colorado is a 2 1/2 -point favorite according to vegasinsider.com.

The two teams split their regular-season series, both games won by the home team by less than 10 points.

Coverage of last night's game

Dave Boling: Cougars leave no doubt they're the team to fear at the Pac-12 Tournament

Washington State's Rueben Chinyelu rebounds against Stanford in the first half of Thursday's Pac-12 Tournament quarterfinal in Las Vegas. — Read more