“To win ugly you just have to grab every opportunity you get and see what happens,” CU coach Tad Boyle said. “We don’t typically start like this. We normally start better than this. But our guys in the huddle said we just had to get into the flow of the game. That’s something that frustrates me sometimes. We start slowly. And it’s hard for teams to slow down our pace, so sometimes you don’t start fast enough, but we were able to get stops and rebound the ball.”
The cold shooting made it a struggle for the Buffs (2-1) to advance to the Elite Eight, where they will play No. 10 Georgetown on Tuesday in Kansas City, Mo. CU made only 29 percent of its shots from the field.
“We just didn’t have any juice going into it,” Boyle said. “We don’t know why. It’s more mental than physical. . . . We’re a special group. I said it a number of times. This group doesn’t get rattled very well. We don’t spend a lot of time talking about how we’re a bad offensive team. That’s not accurate. But as a group, we have got to be more vocal on offense and more locked in defensively and I don’t think we are right now.”
Eastern Washington pushed CU around throughout the first half and took a 34-27 lead into the break. CU battled its way back to retake the lead at 48-46 with 15:02 remaining, but Eastern Washington went on a 6-2 run to take a 51-48 advantage with 10:07 left.
And then the 19th-ranked Buffs got rattled.
“They were their own worst enemy,” Boyle said. “When you’re the team that’s struggling, it’s not a matter of them getting stops on us. It’s just the way the offense is going. If you start getting anything going the wrong way, you’re right back to square one.”
CU’s Caleb Kellogg hit three free throws with 8:38 remaining to give the Buffs a one-point lead. CU cut the lead to two twice in the next four minutes but never could take the lead again.
“They play great defense,” CU guard Derrick White said. “They play good help. They don’t give a lot of second shots. They keep it simple and they play up-tempo. We just couldn’t get that rhythm going today.”
CU’s closing stretch featured a 7-0 run and 1-of-9 shooting for UW. Eastern Washington’s Cade McNown, who hit eight of nine shots and finished with 29 points, hit a foul-line jumper with 29 seconds left to give the Eagles a 59-54 lead.