After being down by three at halftime, Colorado got a six-point edge in the second half, and thanks to two late Nate Tomlinson free throws, the Buffaloes beat the Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks 65-62 on Tuesday night in Boulder, Colo.
“We need to rebound, take charges, get our nose dirty, get bloodied up, and skin our knees for all 40 minutes from everybody,” said CU head coach Jeff Bzdelik after the game. “That’s what we talked about after the game. We made the right plays at the right time, and that is a positive to build on.”
The game was a back-and-forth affair, with no team being able to get larger than a three-point lead throughout most of the game.
CU (6-3) finally gained the lead when sophomore Casey Crawford hit a huge three-pointer to give the Buffs the 62-60 edge with 38 seconds remaining in regulation.
ULM (3-8) would answer back, as Lawrence Gilbert hit a short jump shot to tie the game at 62. Gilbert finished with a team-high 19 points and added five rebounds and two assists.
However, the foul on Tomlinson moments later proved to be the difference, as the Australian freshman hit both of his shots from the charity line to solidify the win for the Buffaloes.
Tomlinson didn’t play most the game, as he gained three personal fouls early in the first half and had to sit out for most of the contest. He finished with five points, four assists, and three rebounds.
Colorado freshman Austin Dufault had his best game of the season, making some key second half shots and finishing with a game-high 21 points. The North Dakota native also finished with two rebounds and three assists.
“My teammates were finding me,” Dufault said. “Last game, I was forcing things and rushing it too much. This game I slowed down and my teammates put me in a position to score, and I knocked them down.”
Malcolm Thomas led the Warhawks in the first half with nine points, but the Buffs defense shut him down in the second, holding him to only four.
Thomas did finish with a-game high 14 rebounds.
After the game, sophomore Cory Higgins commented on the Buffs' trouble with getting the ball off the boards.
“We need to work on blocking out and pursuing the ball,” Higgins said. “Sometimes we were blocking out and in position but weren’t pursuing the ball.
Higgins, the team's leading scorer coming into the game, was held to four points in the first half, but he finally found his rhythm in the second as he finished with 15 points, seven rebounds, three assists, four steals, and two blocks.
Colorado will next head to Honolulu, HI to take part in the Rainbow Classic from Dec. 28-30, while Louisiana-Monroe will host Tennessee Tech on Dec. 29.