WACO, Texas (AP) — Colorado couldn’t keep the ball out of LaceDarius Dunn’s hands down the stretch, and the Baylor senior made the Buffaloes pay.
Dunn scored 26 points, including eight straight free throws in the final 2 minutes, as the Bears rallied from 17 points down to beat Colorado 70-66 Saturday and end a four-game losing streak against Big 12 North opponents.
“Lace is as good a free-throw shooter as there is in the nation, if not the best,” Baylor coach Scott Drew said after Dunn swished 6 of 6 in the final 17 seconds to thwart the Buffaloes’ comeback. “Our players did a good job of finding him, and he did a good job of getting open.”
Perry Jones III scored 14 points for Baylor (14-6, 4-3 Big 12), which had not beaten a Big 12 North school since outlasting Missouri 64-62 on Feb. 13 in Waco. Quincy Acy added 13 points and nine rebounds.
Alec Burks had 20 points to lead Colorado (14-8, 3-4), which lost its fourth straight conference game after a 3-0 start. Cory Higgins added 16 points for the Buffaloes, Levi Knutson had 10 and freshman Andre Roberson finished with nine points and 11 rebounds, including 10 on the offensive end.
Baylor took its first lead of the game on Dunn’s short jumper from the left wing with 2:55 remaining, and A.J. Walton drained a 3-pointer seconds later to make it 61-57. But after Dunn made a pair of free throws at the 1:27 mark, Acy missed one and Walton missed two more with 38 seconds left to give Colorado the ball, trailing by only two.
Then Dunn took over.
After Higgins’ 3-pointer from the top of the key bounced high off the rim, Dunn beat everyone to the rebound, drew a quick foul and made both shots to make it 66-62 with 17 seconds left.
Twice more in the final 11 seconds, Colorado made quick buckets to cut the lead to two only to have Dunn work free on the inbounds play, draw the foul and make his free throws.
“The most important thing is the coaches and players have trust in me and try to get the ball to me,” said Dunn, who came into the game shooting almost 82 percent from the line and finished 11 of 11. “It’s my responsibility to knock down the free throws.”
Colorado tried to deny Dunn on the final possession but couldn’t contain him.
“We had a breakdown defensively,” Colorado coach Tad Boyle said. “We wanted to keep the ball out of his hands. We wanted Walton to catch it because he had missed a couple of free throws. But Dunn is a good player. He stepped up like seniors do.”
Boyle didn’t second-guess Higgins’ 3-point attempt.
“We wanted the first good shot we could get,” he said. “If that’s a 3 by a good shooter, we’ll take it. I can’t fault our guys in the last minute and a half of the game for trying to attack.”
Higgins liked his chances, too.
“It felt good,” he said. “I’d shoot it again if I get the chance. But that was just one shot. We should have had the game won by then.”
The Buffaloes raced out to a 35-21 halftime lead, outplaying the taller Bears in the paint and taking advantage of 13 Baylor turnovers, which they turned into 12 points. Colorado held a 21-19 rebounding edge, and Higgins and Knutson each hit two 3-pointers.
Baylor opened the second half with a 21-9 run behind eight points from Jones to cut the deficit to 44-42 with 11:35 remaining. Colorado hung onto the lead for another seven minutes, but never regained the momentum.
“We talked (at halftime) about winning the second half, but they came out and instead of us punching them in the mouth, they punched us in the mouth,” Boyle said. “We couldn’t get stops. Everything we worked for in the first 20 minutes was gone in the first part of the second half.”
Drew gave Dunn much of the credit for that as well.
“Lace did a great job being the only senior of keeping us together,” he said. “When you’re down 17 at home, it’s easy to get separated and become individuals. We came of age to come back and win this game in the manner that we did. Earlier in the year, we wouldn’t have won this game. I’ve seen a lot of progression.”
Dunn, who is second on Baylor’s all-time scoring list with 2,097 points, moved to within 92 of Terry Teagle’s school-record 2,189. He needs 160 to surpass Texas Tech’s Andre Emmett (2,256) as the Big 12’s career leader.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)