CORVALLIS, Ore. – Nothing came easy for the Colorado Buffaloes in Oregon, but they might like it that way – especially Spencer Dinwiddie.
On a night marked by his perfection, the Buffs rallied behind their stellar sophomore guard here Sunday to beat Oregon State 72-68 and sweep their two-game trip in the Northwest.
Dinwiddie’s long-range shooting and free throw accuracy brought CU back from a seven-point second-half deficit and kept the Buffs in prime position for a February ascent in the Pac-12 Conference.
The difference Sunday night in OSU’s antiquated Gill Coliseum, said CU coach Tad Boyle: “We had Spencer Dinwiddie and they didn’t.”
Dinwiddie scored 17 of his 24 points in the second half, helping CU to go above .500 (6-5, 16-7 overall) for the first time this season in Pac-12 play.
Dinwiddie turned in a night of perfect shooting. He hit four-of-four from beyond the three-point arc (six-of-six overall from the field) and eight-of-eight from the free throw line in the final 20 minutes, including six-of-six in the last 1:41.
“I can’t remember if I’ve ever shot like that before,” Dinwiddie said. “But every shot you take you think you’re going to make. It was one of those nights.”
CU also got double-figure scoring from freshman Josh Scott (17) and senior Sabatino Chen (10).
Oregon State (2-9, 12-12) was led by Roberto Nelson with 21 points. Teammate Ahmad Starks had 20, 17 of them in the first half before CU tightened its defense on him.
The Buffs return to the Coors Events Center this week. On Thursday they face No. 7 Arizona (8 p.m., Pac-12 Network), with Arizona State visiting on Saturday (7 p.m., ESPNU).
CU started with a feverish pace, hitting its first six shots before finally missing and going up by 13 points (19-6) on a pair of free throws by Askia Booker. But the Buffs hot hands didn’t remain that way.
A 13-4 run pulled the Beavers to within 27-25 and Starks took over from there, hitting consecutive treys to tie the score at 31-31 then adding a third to give Oregon its first lead, 34-33.
The half ended that way, and whatever early momentum the Buffs had was swept away.
Starks finished the half with 17 points, hitting five of his nine three-point attempts. And it wasn’t like the Buffs hadn’t been warned: Their scouting report on Starks said he was most dangerous going to his left off the dribble – and that’s what he did on four of his five first-half treys.
In the second half, said Boyle, CU wanted to deny him the ball – and Booker helped answer that challenge. Overall, Boyle said his team didn’t play its best game – just as it didn’t in a 48-47 win on Thursday night at Oregon.
“But you’re seeing this team grow up before your eyes,” he added. “When you don’t play your best in two road games and still win, it shows you something about your players.”
Added junior forward Andre Roberson, who finished with a career-best five steals to go with his 10 rebounds and seven points: “We’ve got heart. It showed in Oregon and it showed here tonight.”
CU didn’t have a player in double figures in the first 20 minutes and was outrebounded 21-17 – 39-30 for the game. The Buffs shot 41.4 percent from the field, the Beavers 45.6. But CU got 21 points off of that many OSU turnovers while committing only nine. The Buffs also had 13 second-chance points to the Beavers’ seven.
Nelson, tied for the conference scoring lead at 18.4 points a game, had only four first-half points. But he opened the second half with a long trey from the right wing, giving the Beavers a 37-33 advantage.
The Buffs caught and passed them with a 6-0 run, going ahead 39-37 on a pair of Dinwiddie free throws with 17:51 to play. From there, it was back and forth for the next 3 minutes, with neither team able to take more than three-point lead until Joe Burton converted a three-point play with 14:22 left to send the Beavers ahead 51-47 – their largest lead of the night.
And it got larger. When Starks drained another triple from just left of the top of the key, Oregon was up 56-49 – and with 12:50 remaining the Buffs were entering dangerous territory. No matter; they had been there before and survived.
CU crept to within two (56-54) on a three-pointer by Dinwiddie over Oregon’s 2-3 zone and a transition basket by Scott. Just under 3 minutes later, Dinwiddie got another triple and the Buffs suddenly were down just a point (58-57).
Then a short shootout began.
After Oregon freshman Olaf Schaftenaar answered with a trey, restoring the Beavers’ four-point lead, Dinwiddie struck again from beyond the arc and pulled the Buffs to within 63-62. Roberson made one of two free throws with 3:23 showing to tie the score at 63-63.
CU freshman Xavier Johnson’s tip-dunk at the 2:20 mark put CU ahead (65-63) for the first time in nearly 14 minutes, and the Buffs might have been flashing back to their final-minute win (48-47) in Eugene on Thursday night.
Dinwiddie made both ends of a one-and-one with 1:41 left, giving CU a 67-63 lead. But on the other end, he fouled Nelson beyond the arc, and Nelson’s three free throws cut the Buffs’ lead to 67-66.
At 1:10, Boyle called a timeout. With 3 seconds showing on the shot clock and 52.9 on the game clock, Dinwiddie was fouled and hit both ends of his one-and-one for a 69-66 lead.
Oregon missed, Roberson rebounded and Booker was fouled with 29.1 seconds to play. Making one of two foul shots, he put CU ahead 70-66, but Nelson scored in the lane to pull Oregon to within 70-68 with 16.7 seconds left.
Fouled by Nelson on the inbounds pass, Dinwiddie hit both free throws and the Buffs were up 72-68 with 14.2 seconds showing. Oregon’s Eric Moreland missed at point blank range, Roberson rebounded and was tied up.
The possession arrow favored the Buffs – and this one was done.