LOS ANGELES — Thomas Welsh stood near midcourt and waved his long arms to the crowd. The senior from Redondo Beach gave UCLA’s largest home crowd of the year plenty to cheer about Saturday night at Pauley Pavilion. The rest of his team didn’t.
Welsh scored 20 points with eight rebounds against Colorado, but the Bruins slipped from the top of the Pac-12 standings after a 68-59 loss.
It was Colorado’s first ever win at Pauley Pavilion and snapped a seven-game road losing streak for the Buffaloes while UCLA lost its second home game of the year. The other one came against Cincinnati in front of the team’s only other home crowd that surpassed 10,000.
Coupled with Arizona’s win over Oregon on Saturday, the Bruins (13-5, 4-2 Pac-12) fell a half-game behind the Wildcats for the conference lead.
Colorado (11-7, 3-3 Pac-12) stymied the top scoring offense in Pac-12 play, holding the Bruins to a season-low scoring total and just 5-of-25 shooting from beyond the arc.
“That was as poor as we’ve played all year,” head coach Steve Alford said. “Outside of Tom we just didn’t have much as far as good concentrated effort. Obviously, you’re not going to win at this level when you don’t have enough guys collectively to do that, but I take responsibility for that.
“That’s our job as coaches, to make sure they’re ready to play and I don’t think we were — not only were we not ready to play, just to have no energy, no effort, that’s hard to watch.”
The Bruins fell behind by as many as 17 points during the first half. Welsh scored 10 straight points in the second half to cut the Colorado lead to four with 5:20 to go. After hitting his second of back-to-back 3-pointers, the senior center paused to egg on the crowd before going to the bench for a timeout.
Despite the crowd’s roars, the Bruins gave up five straight points after the timeout and never got to within one possession.
“We had spurts like that, where we were getting stops and cutting…