BOULDER, Colo. (AP) — A snowstorm blowing outside wasn’t nearly as chilly as Colorado coach Tad Boyle’s postgame speech.
For a team hoping to make the NCAA tournament, the Buffaloes dropped a game they simply couldn’t afford to drop. He let them know exactly that.
Down the hall a few paces, it was a far different speech, with Oregon State coach Craig Robinson praising his squad for finally playing the way he envisioned all season.
For a team going, well, nowhere, it’s exactly what it needed heading into the Pac-12 Conference tournament next week in Las Vegas.
Eric Moreland scored 17 points and Roberto Nelson added 15, helping the Beavers snap a five-game skid by holding off Colorado 64-58 on Saturday.
“I tried to do a little reverse psychology,” Robinson said. “I told them how hard it was to play here, hoping that they would raise the level of play.”
They certainly did that.
It was the first-ever win in Boulder for the Beavers (14-17, 4-14 Pac-12). They were 0-6 all-time before Nelson closed out a tight game on a layup with 15 seconds remaining, sending the crowd heading for the exits.
So incensed was Boyle by this listless performance, he grabbed the microphone soon after the game — it was senior night and he was going to talk anyway — and apologized to the capacity crowd. Boyle really isn’t sure what his team needs right now — kind words? A hug? — but hopes this contest serves as a reality check. The Buffs (20-10, 10-8) were on a high after knocking off a ranked Oregon team two days ago, only to be brought back down to earth.
“The reality is that we just lost to a team that was 3-14, coming into our building, with a great crowd, with a snowstorm blowing on us, on senior day,” said Boyle, whose team will be the No. 5 seed and face No. 12 Oregon State again on Wednesday in the Pac-12 tournament. “We got beat. That’s the reality. I don’t know if we need a rah-rah speech, but we better figure it out, because guess what? The regular season is over with. It’s now win or go home.
“There are no guarantees of tomorrow.”
It was that way last season, when the Buffaloes lost at Oregon State to end the regular season. Colorado went on to win the league tournament to make the NCAA field. Boyle’s not sure if that’s necessary again, but isn’t looking beyond the first game next week in Las Vegas.
“Those guys in the locker room have to get their heads on right, have to get ready to beat whoever is placed in front of us,” Boyle said. “It makes me sick to my stomach, that we could not give our fans more than we gave today.”
Spencer Dinwiddie had 18 points for the Buffaloes, who were attempting to tie the school record for wins in the regular season, a mark held by the 1996-97 squad that featured Chauncey Billups.
For a second straight game, Colorado played without Andre Roberson, who is sidelined with a viral illness. Boyle hopes to have the nation’s leading rebounder back on the court in the conference tournament.
With no Roberson in the middle, the Beavers outrebounded the Buffs 40-32.
“Roberson is a special player,” Oregon State center Joe Burton said. “Without him, it’s a missing link.”
Nelson leads Oregon State in scoring but was shut out in the first half, only to erupt in the final 20 minutes. Moreland picked up the slack, even grabbing 10 rebounds for good measure.
Devon Collier gave the Beavers a lead they wouldn’t relinquish with 18:41 left on a short jumper. But it wouldn’t be easy, especially down the stretch.
Dinwiddie cut the lead to 60-58 when he hit three free throws after being fouled on a 3-point attempt with 28.8 seconds left. But that’s when Nelson dribbled down the court, avoiding being fouled, and banked the ball in to wrap up the win.
Burton finished with 10 points, giving him 1,005 for his career. He’s the first Beavers player with more than 1,000 points, 700 rebounds and 300 assists in his career.
With an effective hook shot, Burton was hard to stop as the Buffaloes tried everything to contain the 295-pound center.
“I should have just thrown up the hooks all day because I went like 100 percent from the hooks and I missed little baby layups,” Burton said.
A spring snowstorm passed through the area and was expected to dump nearly a foot of snow with winds up to 35 mph. And while maybe a few fans didn’t make the trek to Boulder in the bad weather, there were still more than 10,000 on hand, which is right around the team’s average for the season.
More than anything, the Buffs were disappointed with their effort on Saturday.
“No sense of urgency whatsoever, especially on the defensive end,” Askia Booker said.
Xavier Johnson, one of Colorado’s top offensive threats, clearly became more and more agitated as the game went along. He finished with just six points and had four fouls in 28 minutes.
“When things go well, Xavier is fine. When things don’t go well, Xavier has problems — emotionally, mentally,” Boyle said. “Xavier was emotionally taken out of the game tonight. That happens when he doesn’t have success. That’s something he has to get better at and he will.”
Before the game, the Buffs honored senior guard Sabatino Chen and junior forward Shane Harris-Tunks, who graduates in May and plans to skip his final year of eligibility in order to return home to Australia.
“Our team wasn’t ready to play today, emotionally, mentally or physically,” Boyle said. “It’s unfortunate, but it’s reality. We have to live with it.”
(© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)