BOULDER, Colo. (AP) - D’Shawn Schwartz scored 13 of his 15 points in the second half Saturday night when No. 25 Colorado turned its defensive pressure into overdrive to overwhelm scrappy San Diego 71-53 after leading by just three at halftime.
That sizzling second-half shutdown is just what coach Tad Boyle wants to see from his Buffs (2-0) Monday night when they host UC-Irvine, which returns three starters from a 31-win team that upset Kansas State in the NCAA tournament.
“This is somebody we cannot take lightly,” said Boyle, who improved to 10-0 in home openers. “They’re deep, they’re big, they’re physical. We’d better play better. We need the second-half Colorado team tonight, not the first-half. And we’ve got to put two halves together because Irvine, much like San Diego, is not going beat themselves.”
Tyler Bey added 14 points and two impressive blocked shots on Braun Hartfield, one a thunderous rejection and the other a swipe and steal that was equally athletic.
“We didn’t execute the way we wanted to in the second half,” Hartfield said. “I think it was us.”
Hartfield didn’t want to credit Colorado, but the Buffs (2-0) knew it was on them to turn up the heat after halftime.
“We live by defense, period,” Bey said. “When we don’t make shots, we’ve got to get stops.”
And the Buffs were doing both in the second half, when the outscored the Toreros (2-3) by 15 points.
“I think the nerves kind of calmed down a little bit,” Schwartz said. “It was a packed-out house. It’s great, love to see it. We just have to slow down a little bit and just get our heads on us.”
Lucas Siewert and McKinley Wight IV each chipped in 11 points for the Buffaloes, who avenged losses to the West Coast Conference team in each of the last seasons.
Colorado’s superior depth wore down the Tereros, who were playing for the third time in five nights, and the Buffs used an 18-0 run to turn a tight 46-42 game into a blowout.
“We missed layups, we got shots blocked and they’re coming down the other end, they’re driving, they’re finishing and they got really good players that can score a lot of ways,” San Diego coach Sam Schull said.
The Tereros, who had to replace four graduating seniors from a team that advanced to the NIT for the first time in program history, got 10 points each from Noel Coleman and Joey Calcaterra.
San Diego trailed 30-27 at halftime but Marion Humphrey picked up his second and third fouls within 30 seconds and took a seat, and the Buffs were in the bonus with 14:21 remaining.
Schwartz sank four free throws and a 3-pointer to put Colorado ahead 46-37.
“It’s great for us to get a chance to play a Top 25 team in November on their home floor,” Schull said. “Games like tonight will help us in January and February.”
HE SAID IT
“I’m not worried about the minutes I’m playing, just making the time count.” Siewert, who came off the bench to play 21 minutes, more than more than starters Evan Battey and Dean Kountz and just 1:40 less than Schwartz.
San Diego: The Tereros hung tough for 25 minutes but they were just outmatched by a deeper team.
Colorado: The Buffaloes put this one away by holding San Diego scoreless for 6:26 during their big run.
“We kept getting stops,” Boyle said. “And our defense’s integrity didn’t come and go, and in the second half, we kept getting stops, and we allowed that to get us in transition. We got to the foul line, we attacked the basket in transition.”
Ranked for the first time since Jan. 13, 2014, the Buffaloes’ blowout ensured this one won’t be a cameo.
San Diego: The Toreros return home to take on rival San Diego State on Wednesday night.
Colorado: The Buffaloes get a day off before hosting the Anteaters team that Boyle’s so concerned about: “I’m telling you what, the game Monday night is going to be a battle extraordinaire,” he said. “We are playing a well-coached, well disciplined, tough team. We’ve got our hands full on Monday night. Our fans and our players need to understand.”
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