By all rights, Colorado should be playing its next game in the losers’ bracket at the Paradise Jam in Lynchburg, Va., but thanks to McKinley Wright IV, it will face Drake in Saturday’s semifinals. Wright IV drained a 3-pointer as time expired Friday to propel the Buffaloes past a game Quinnipiac squad 70-69 and into a meeting with the Bulldogs.
Wright IV, a freshman guard, eclipsed his career high with 14 points in the first half and finished with 21 for the Buffaloes, who trailed by 13 points with a little more than five minutes remaining. Tad Boyle’s team was fortunate to have a chance to win after going 4-of-20 from 3-point territory and finishing with seven assists against 17 turnovers. “We did not deserve to win that game, I told the Quinnipiac coaches that,” Boyle, whose team is in search of its first in-season tournament title since 2012-13, told the media. “Our heart, our spirit, our fight, I like that about this team, but we’ve got to play smarter.” Reed Timmer finished with 29 points, one shy of matching his career high, as the Bulldogs erased a 10-point deficit in the final nine minutes against Wake Forest to win 77-74.
TV: 8:30 p.m. ET, No TV
ABOUT COLORADO (3-0): Wright IV may have hit the game winner, but he certainly didn’t win the game by himself. Namon Wright, a junior transfer from Missouri, had 16 points, including six in the final 83 seconds, Lucas Siewert canned a 3-pointer with two minutes left and Tory Miller-Stewart grabbed nine rebounds for the Buffaloes. “We were down 13 with five minutes to go and we came together and said we are not losing this game,” Wright IV, who corralled a missed free throw with seven seconds left before hitting the 3-pointer from the top of the key, told the media. “I shot the shot how I shoot any transition three.”
ABOUT DRAKE (2-0): Graham Woodward scored 20 points off the bench and he Timmer made clutch free throws in the waning minutes for the Bulldogs, who appear much improved after winning seven games in each of the last two seasons. “We fought, and we scratched, and we never had any doubt,” Timmer told the media. “We didn’t let any run affect us. We knew that this team, even though that they are in the ACC, are not any better than us.” De’Antae McMurray and Casey Schlatter combined for 15 points and 14 rebounds for Drake.
1. Wright IV, who hit a 3-pointer with 16 seconds left to pull the Buffaloes to within a point, originally committed to Dayton, but switched to Colorado after former Dayton coach Archie Miller took the Indiana job.
2. The Buffaloes only victory in four tries against Drake was an 82-80 overtime win in 1996.
3. The winner faces Mercer or Drexel in Sunday’s championship game.
PREDICTION: Colorado 71, Drake 65