Thursday was a good day for the new schools in the Pac-12, with Colorado taking a 68-64 upset win from UNLV in the first full round of the men's NCAA Tournament, and Utah upsetting their neighbors to the north, beating Utah St. 69-58 in the Women's NIT.
The Buffs jumped ahead of the Running Rebels early, taking a 12 point first half lead, and a 36-25 halftime advantage on an Austin Dufault jumper just before the buzzer. A 10-0 run early in the second half that featured back to back 3 pointers by Dufault put Colorado up 46-27, and they took their largest lead, 20 points, when Spencer Dinwiddie made 2 of 3 free throws after being fouled shooting a 3 with just over 13 minutes left.
The Buffs then went cold, not scoring for 3 1/2 minutes, but they still had a 16 point, 57-41 lead with 8 1/2 minutes to go. Another scoring drought, this one over 4 1/2 minutes long, allowed UNLV to go on a 14-0 run. Colorado staved off all the Rebel's challenges though, and UNLV only got within 1 possession twice again, down 3 points both times.
Dinwiddie went to the line 8 times in the last 38 seconds, and could have put UNLV out of their misery sooner, but he hit only 5 of the 8 from the line.
Askia Booker had a game high 16 points off the Buff's bench, and Dufault added 14, as 4 Colorado players posted double figure totals.
Colorado (24-11) next faces Baylor (28-7) Saturday evening in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. The Bears barely beat South Dakota St. 68-60.
The Utah women hosted their neighbors, but the Aggies from the WAC brought in the better record, 21-8, while the Utes were 15-15 after the Pac-12 tournament.
Utah St. led by as many as 12 points in the first half, before the Utes cut that down to a 31-24 deficit by halftime.
Utah caught up 4 minutes into the second half, and were never headed after that, pulling away to as much as a 14 point lead, and ultimately winning by 11.
All 5 Utah starters wound up in double figures, with Taryn Wicijowski and Michelle Plouffe co-leading the way, with 15 points each.
The win sets up an all-Pac-12 second round matchup, with Utah (16-15) visiting Washington (18-13), a team they beat 49-36 in overtime in Seattle in their only previous meeting, on Sunday afternoon. The winner of that game will meet the winner of Oregon St.'s Saturday night game against St. Marys' in the third round of the WNIT.