BOULDER - A Saturday night of bumping, grinding, pounding and flailing ended with a soft buzzer-beating layup. And that ended the night badly for the Colorado Buffaloes.
Arizona State's Evan Gordon split CU's defense down the right lane, driving for the game-winning basket in overtime as the Sun Devils stunned the Buffs 63-62 at the sold-out, bummed-out Coors Events Center.
"Welcome to college football . . . I thought the season was over in December," said disgruntled CU coach Tad Boyle. "It was an unbelievable physical game, the most physical game I've ever been a part of - college, high school, YMCA."
CU freshman Josh Scott took the brunt of the night's physicality. Matched against Jordan Bachynski, Scott and the 7-2, 250-pound ASU center became entangled and spun to the floor with 16:02 remaining in the second half.
Bachynski got up, Scott didn't. Motioned to come to the court by CU players, trainer Trey Tashiro rushed to attend to Scott. When Scott was able to sit up and finally stand, Tashiro escorted him to the locker room, where he remained for the rest of the game.
Boyle said Scott, after catching an elbow to the head, "blacked out and got a concussion." Further tests are scheduled to determine Scott's status for Thursday's game against Utah (CEC, 8 p.m., Pac-12 Network).
Boyle credited Arizona State but said the night's rough-and-tumble play and the scarcity of blown whistles - 35 fouls were called and maybe that many or more uncalled - "affected both teams . . . I thought our guys reacted well and played their hearts out. I had no problem with their effort and energy; they did everything we asked them to do on defense."
He called Gordon's drive "a hell of a play . . . a bang-bang play and we weren't able to stop them."
On ASU's winning possession, which started with 8.3 seconds left after Spencer Dinwiddie's layup gave CU a 62-61 lead, Buffs sophomore Askia Booker he and his teammates were aware of Sun Devils point guard Jahi Carson.
Boyle said the Buffs wanted to "get the ball out of (Carson's) hands, and Booker added, "I think Jahi is so great with ball and can create his own shot, everybody was looking to him. Gordon had a straight-line drive . . . we just didn't guard the ball well enough."
Saturday night's bitter defeat came two nights after CU had shocked No. 9 Arizona. Losing for the first time in four games, the Buffs fell to 17-8 overall and 7-6 in the Pac-12 Conference. ASU, which defeated CU 65-56 in Tempe last month, improved to 19-7, 8-5. Saturday night marked CU's sixth sellout at the CEC this season, breaking the school record of five set in 2010-11.
The Buffs rallied to win close games last week at then-No. 19 Oregon and Oregon State, which left Boyle philosophical about Saturday night's loss. "We stole two games in Oregon," he said. "I can't get too down . . . (but) it stinks. It's college athletics and losing is no fun. The guys in our locker room are hurting, I'm hurting, our staff is hurting and BuffsNation is hurting."
A foul-line jumper by Andre Roberson gave CU a 60-59 lead with 1:46 remaining in overtime, but Carson banked in a runner from the right side to push the Sun Devils ahead 61-60.
Boyle called a timeout but the Buffs went empty on that possession. At the other end, Carrick Felix missed two free throws with 24 seconds to play, giving the Buffs a chance.
Dinwiddie took it, making a layup to put CU up 62-61 with 8.3 seconds left. But the Buffs couldn't cut off Gordon's drive to the basket, and his layup trickled in as time expired, sucking the life out of the CEC.
Dinwiddie led CU with 24 points, with Booker adding 17 and Xavier Johnson 10. Carson's 18 topped ASU, with Gordon scoring 14 and Bachynski 12.
Behind 15 rebounds by Roberson and 14 by Johnson, the Buffs won the board battle 41-26. Roberson collected 14 of his rebounds in the second half. The Sun Devils shot 46 percent from the field, the Buffs 35.1 percent. ASU's biggest statistical edge was in the paint - 30-20.
CU trailed for the final 6:38 of regulation and had only one field goal from the 5:33 mark until a pair in the final 46.6 seconds by Booker and Johnson. It was Johnson's dunk on a dish from Dinwiddie that tied the score at 54-54 and sent the game into overtime.
While the Buffs were struggling to hit a shot in the final 5 minutes, Dinwiddie hit 10 of 10 free throws before the baskets by Booker and Johnson. Dinwiddie finished 14-of-14 from the line.
The Buffs ran hot and cold in the first half, encountering a pair of scoring droughts and winding up three points behind (27-24) at halftime. That's not to say Arizona didn't have its first-half offensive troubles; the Sun Devils went 7:18 without a point and the Buffs took advantage, rolling to a 22-15 advantage behind the three-point shooting of Dinwiddie and Xavier Talton.
But as quickly as that seven-point lead appeared, it evaporated in the half's final 4:10 as Arizona closed with a 12-2 run. In home games this season in which they trailed at halftime, the Buffs had been 1-1 (beating Texas Southern, losing to UCLA). Now they're 1-2.
In most areas, CU clearly needed a quick reversal to open the second half. Less than two minutes in, Booker tied the score at 27-27 with a three-pointer from the left wing. But a rough patch - literally - was coming for the Buffs.
Inside play had been physical from the opening tip, with Bachynski trying to overpower Scott from the outset. Their duel intensified in the second half's first 4 minutes, resulting in the entanglement that took Scott out of the game.
In Scott's absence, the Buffs used 6-11 Shane Harris-Tunks and the 6-7 Roberson on Bachynski. By this time, the sold-out CEC was doing its part, but both teams were still having difficulty on the offensive end - mainly because anything seemed to be allowed on the defensive end.
With 7:11 to play, the score was tied at 38-38, and if the Buffs were going to win this one it wouldn't be done softly.
A trey by Jonathan Gilling gave ASU a 41-38 advantage, then he added a pair of free throws to put the Sun Devils up by five (45-40) - their largest lead of the night - with 5:01 to play.
After Arizona went ahead 47-42, Dinwiddie hit four consecutive free throws to pull CU to within 47-46 with 3:56 to play. Just over a minute later, Gordon's three-pointer from the right wing gave the Sun Devils a 50-46 advantage, but once again Dinwiddie cut CU's deficit to 50-48 with a pair of free throws.
Bachynski, who had missed a pair of foul shots at the 3:36 mark, hit a pair with 1:50 showing - and down 52-48, the Buffs were in trouble. It deepened when Carson sank another pair with 1:19 left, putting CU six points (54-48) down.
All that was keeping the Buffs afloat were Dinwiddie's free throws - he got two more at 1:15 - until Booker hit a runner in the lane to bring the Buffs to within 54-52. It was CU's first field goal since 5:33, that coming on another Booker basket.
ASU called timeout with 34.7 on the game clock and 24 seconds on the shot clock. The Sun Devils took the shot clock to zero, leaving the Buffs with 10.6 seconds to tie or win.
Dinwiddie fought his way through a double team to get the inbounds pass, raced up court and after going airborne, dished to Xavier Johnson for a stuff. It was 54-54 with 2.5 seconds to play.
ASU's Carrick Felix got off a shot at the buzzer, but it bounded off the back iron. OT, along with heartache for the Buffs, were on the way.
Booker said the Buffs missed Scott "without a doubt. He's our low-post presence . . . Coach told us it would be a physical game and that (Bachynski) would be one of the best players we'd face. We did pretty well with him."
After scoring 16 points, grabbing seven rebounds and blocking nine shots in the first meeting, Bachynski line read 12, 3 and 3 in those categories Saturday night.
Boyle told his team that "every game from here on out is going to be like this . . . we're 0-2 against Arizona State, but guess what? We've still got a conference tournament."