FRESNO, Calif. — Coming off a 36-point loss to No. 9 Kansas, Colorado coach Tad Boyle challenged his squad to improve its defense and rebounding.
So far, so good for the Buffaloes.
Andre Roberson scored 17 points and grabbed a career-high 20 rebounds as Colorado beat Fresno State 50-43 on Wednesday night for its first road win.
Askia Booker added 14 points and Josh Scott had 11 points and eight rebounds for the Buffaloes (8-2), who held Fresno State to 30 percent shooting while outrebounding the Bulldogs 40-33.
“After the Kansas game I kind of took offense when coach said we weren’t a good rebounding team,” Roberson said. “Our rebounding margin is terrible right now, and I take pride in my rebounding. We needed to step it up, and I feel like it starts with me first.”
Kevin Foster led Fresno State (5-5) with eight points and eight rebounds.
After leading most of the game, Colorado nearly squandered an 11-point lead in the final 3:23, letting the Bulldogs get to within 45-43, before Roberson made consecutive free throws with 17.2 seconds left.
Tyler Johnson scored all seven of his points in the final 3:01, including a baseline jumper that brought Fresno State to within two with 29 seconds remaining. But Colorado’s Spencer Dinwiddie drew a foul on the other end and hit the first of two free throws with 18 seconds left.
Dinwiddie’s second free throw hit the rim and caromed high in the air to Roberson, who soared above Jerry Brown to grab the offensive rebound and draw the foul. Roberson then hit two free throws to make it a five-point game.
“(Brown) was waiting to push me off, but I knew it wasn’t going to work,” Roberson said. “I felt the instinct telling me (the ball) was going to come off a little hard. So I kind of stepped in and the ball was right above me.”
Boyle praised Roberson’s tenacity. The slender 6-foot-7 junior grabbed seven offensive boards while Fresno State had just 12 as a team.
“He got 20 rebounds and was never boxed out once,” Boyle said. “He’s unlike anybody I’ve ever coached. Andre is so good for us in so many ways.”
Johnson, Brown and Allen Huddleston added seven points apiece for Fresno State, which scored 13 of the first 15 points in the second half to erase a 10-point halftime deficit.
Robert Upshaw gave the Bulldogs their first lead since the opening minutes, 30-29, when his attempted dunk hung on the rim before rolling through the hoop with 12:15 remaining.
Losing the lead seemed to provide the spark Colorado needed as the Buffaloes responded with a 14-2 run. Booker threw an alley-oop to Roberson for a dunk, and Sabatino Chen twice drove for layups as Colorado suddenly led 41-32 with 7:26 left.
“Obviously, we didn’t play very well offensively in the second half,” Boyle said. “But we’ve got to find a way to win games when we don’t play well, and we did that tonight.”
Scoring streaks were also a big part of the first half as Colorado closed with a 9-0 run to lead 27-17 at halftime. Roberson had nine points, 10 rebounds and three assists in the period.
The Bulldogs went scoreless for the final 6:22 of the first half, while Colorado scored just two points in the first 8:19 of the second.