Jan. 1, 2014
By Craig Buchanan
Athletic Media Relations
FORT COLLINS, Colo. - The Colorado State Rams (9-5, 0-1 MW) dropped their first game of the Mountain West season to No. 21/19 San Diego State (11-1, 1-0 MW) on Wednesday night at Moby Arena, 71-61.
"I'm very proud of this group," Head Coach Larry Eustachy said. "We were competitive in a game that was closer than the scoer indicated; I'm extremely proud of our staff and our players for what we have been able to do. We just can't quite get over the hump against a top-20 team yet, but I think we'll be able to do that before it's over."
Junior guard Daniel Bejarano led the Rams with a career-high 22 points and eight rebounds, while junior forward J.J. Avila (15) and junior guard Jon Octeus (10) also scored in double figures. It marked the second consecutive game that Bejarano posted a career-best scoring effort.
Colorado State shot just 38 percent from the field and 21 percent from downtown, as San Diego State's stingy defense proved worthy of the team's high national ranking. The Aztecs and Rams were close in several statistical categories, both committing 14 turnovers and scoring 12 points off of second-chance points.
SDSU gained a slight advantage on the boards, securing 39 rebounds in the game to CSU's 35 rebounds, but made its mark on the game with points in the paint. The Aztecs attacked the rim constantly in the game and out-scored the Rams 40-14 in the paint.
Led by Xavier Thames' game-high 23 points, San Diego State led for the duration of the game. The Rams tied it up on three separate occasions, at 8-8, 23-23 and 25-25, but the Aztecs always had an answer to maintain the lead. San Diego State ended the first half on an 11-2 run to give it a nine-point cushion heading into the intermission.
Colorado State proved to be resilient and got as close as four points in the second half, but couldn't put together enough stops down the stretch to get over the hump. The Aztecs led by as much as 11 points in the game and had enough defensive stops and hustle plays to give them second-chance opportunities on offense late in the game to secure the 10-point victory.
The Rams travel down to Albuquerque next to take on another premier program in the Mountain West in the New Mexico Lobos on Saturday. Tipoff is slated for 4 p.m. MT and will be televised on ESPNU.
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