BOULDER, Colo. (AP) – Colorado had a rough time in its first game without star guard Spencer Dinwiddie.
Norman Powell matched his season high with 19 points and No. 25 UCLA pulled away in the second half to beat No. 21 Colorado 69-56 Thursday night, handing the short-handed Buffaloes their first home loss of the season.
Dinwiddie was leading the team in scoring, assists and steals when he sustained a season-ending knee injury during Sunday’s loss at Washington. Colorado (14-4, 3-2 Pac-12) also played without Tre’Shaun Fletcher, who injured his knee in the same game and is expected to miss six to eight weeks.
“We can’t feel sorry for ourselves,” said Askia Booker, who scored 21 points to lead the Buffaloes. “We have to go out there and hoop. If we don’t do that, we’re going to be in trouble.”
Jordan Adams had 14 points and 13 rebounds, and David Wear added 13 points for UCLA (14-3, 3-1), which has won consecutive games since a narrow loss to top-ranked Arizona a week ago.
“We didn’t shoot the ball very well,” said UCLA coach Steve Alford, whose team shot 39.4 percent from the field, a fraction off Colorado’s 40 percent mark.
“You have to give Colorado credit,” he added. “Their kids really played hard and stepped up and played with great energy with the injuries that they’ve had to try to deal with. It’s not easy. To get a double-digit win and do the job on the backboard, this team a month ago could not win a game on the road shooting 39 percent. Now we’ve proven we can. I think that’s the biggest statement. That’s what I told the guys.”
Josh Scott added 19 points for Colorado, but the Buffaloes got little production from the rest of the squad.
Colorado coach Tad Boyle said it will take time for the Buffaloes to adjust to the losses of Dinwiddie and Fletcher.
“It is going to be a process because we lost a key component of our team – two of them,” Boyle said. “Is it going to take time? Yes, but that’s not an excuse. We didn’t lose this game tonight because Spencer Dinwiddie and Tre’Shaun Fletcher didn’t play. We lost this game because we didn’t play well enough to beat UCLA. It was a winnable game. We had a shot. We just didn’t do what we had to do.”
Boyle said the younger players thrust into more prominent roles because of the injuries will improve with time. Scott and Booker combined to make 14 of Colorado’s 20 baskets. No other player hit more than two shots from the field.
“The reality is, we’ve got guys who are capable of playing better,” Boyle said. “They know that. I want them to know I believe in them.”
It was the first loss in 12 home games for the Buffaloes, who fell to 0-3 against UCLA since joining the Pac-12 three years ago. Colorado dropped to 1-7 overall against the Bruins, with its lone victory coming 52 years ago.
Down seven at the break, Colorado made it 42-39 on a pair of free throws by Scott. But the Bruins scored seven of the next nine points to go up 49-41 with 12:35 remaining.
UCLA then took advantage of a cold stretch by Colorado – the Buffaloes went without a field goal for roughly 8 minutes – as the Bruins extended their lead to 58-46 when Powell finished a 9-1 burst with a dunk.
Scott’s dunk with 3:52 remaining ended Colorado’s shooting drought and Booker followed with a 3-pointer to get the Buffaloes to 58-51 with 3:22 left.
Booker connected on a 3 and a jumper on successive possessions to pull Colorado to 31-29 with 4:23 left in the first half, but the Bruins closed with a 5-0 spurt. They got a 3-pointer from Zach LaVine and a jumper from Adams to grab a 36-29 halftime lead.
The seven-point advantage matched the Bruins’ biggest lead of the game to that point.
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