Jan. 4, 2014
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Colorado State junior guard Daniel Bejarano posted a career-high scoring effort for the third straight game, finishing with 25 points to go along with eight rebounds, but it was not enough to push the hobbled Rams (9-6, 0-2 MW) over the top in the team’s comeback bid at New Mexico (10-3, 1-0) on Saturday afternoon. The Lobos held on for an 80-73 victory, behind a combined 51 points from senior starters Cameron Bairstow (29 points) and Kendall Williams (22).
The Rams fought off not only the veteran Lobos’ squad and the sell-out crowd of 15,411, but worked through foul trouble and several injuries to storm back from a deficit that reached as many as 15 points in the second half and fight to within two possessions on three occasions in the game’s final 1:20. But the Lobos answered each blow down the stretch to give the Rams a second straight loss to open Mountain West play.
“They (New Mexico) are a special team,” said Head Coach Larry Eustachy after the game. “I was proud of our guys but they’re just too much for us right now.”
Colorado State gave a valiant effort with leading scorer, junior forward J.J. Avila, slowed for the second straight game with a back injury suffered Monday in practice. Avila played through the pain and gave the Rams yet another double-digit scoring effort, pouring in 14 points and adding seven rebounds in 28 minutes.
Junior guard Dwight Smith, who sprained his knee in the Wednesday’s game vs. No. 21/19 San Diego State, also tried to give the Rams a spark, but was able to play just 3 minutes, and did not check into the game after his initial time on the court early in the first half.
Even Bejarano was not completely healthy, battling through an eye infection and still going 5-of-7 from three-point range, a career-best mark for treys in a game and the most by a CSU player this season. Bejarano, the No. 1 rebounding guard in the nation, was also able to be effective despite playing for most of the second half with four fouls.
Sophomore guard Joe De Ciman also finished in double-figures scoring for the Rams, hitting a pair of three-pointers and adding a career-high seven rebounds before fouling out of the contest.
Bairstow and frontcourt mate Alex Kirk both posted double-doubles for the Lobos, pulling down 14 and 11 rebounds, respectively. Kirk scored 10 points. Williams added eight rebounds and a game-high seven assists, and the Lobos finished the game with a 48-40 advantage on the boards and a 15-7 edge in the assists column.
The Rams will get another crack at their first road win of the season next Wednesday, traveling to San José, Calif., for a matchup against Mountain West newcomer San José State. Tipoff between the Spartans and the Rams is set 8 p.m. MT/7 p.m. PT.
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