January 08, 2014
SAN JOSE, Calif. - Junior forward J.J. Avila posted his second double-double of the season, pouring in 21 points and pulling down a career-high 14 rebounds, to lead the Colorado State men's basketball team to a 66-64 road win against San José State at the Spartans' Event Center on Wednesday night.
"I just give our guys so much credit to find a way to win a game on the road," said Head Coach Larry Eustachy after his team improved to 1-3 away from Moby Arena on the season.
The Rams (10-6, 1-2 MW) held off the Spartans (6-9, 0-3 MW) - who received a career-high-tying 28 points by freshman guard Rashad Muhammad - behind a strong defensive effort in the second half by sophomore guard Joe De Ciman.
De Ciman posted 13 points, joining Avila and Bejarano (15) in double-figures scoring, but it was his shadowing of the Spartans' sharpshooter that made the biggest difference in the game.
Muhammad, who leads the team in scoring at more than 16 points per game, posted 19 points including a flurry of five three-pointers in the opening stanza. But he was limited to nine points in the second half, and held without a three-point attempt by De Ciman and the Rams.
In addition to his defensive presence in the second half, De Ciman hit a key shot late in the second half, connecting on the second of his two three-pointers at the 3:23 mark of the half, extending a one-point CSU lead to a 58-54 advantage.
"Joe was terrific," added Eustachy. "That three was the shot of the game. I thought that was huge."
The game that featured 10 ties and 16 lead changes and the final 90 seconds were no different. The Rams would temporarily surrender the lead twice down the stretch, but it was Avila and Bejarano that sealed the victory at the free-throw line.
Avila connected on all six of his attempts in the final 1:20, and Bejarano hit 2-of-4 attempts during the run, helping the Rams hold off the Spartans.
In addition to his 15 points, Bejarano tallied seven rebounds and a game-high five assists. He and De Ciman tied for game-high honors with three steals each, as the Rams forced the Spartans into 19 turnovers, a figure that could have been 20 if time didn't expire on the final play of the game before Muahmmad lost the ball out of bounds while efforting for a game-winning shot attempt.
Chris Cunningham (13 points) and Jaleel Williams (11) also scored in double-figures for the Spartans. Williams led the Spartans with six boards, while Cunningham and Muhammad each pulled down five, giving SJSU a slim 29-26 edge on the glass for the game. But it was not enough to overcome the Rams' 28-16 advantage in points in the paint, or CSU's 21-3 edge in scoring off of turnovers.
Next up, the Rams return to the friendly confines of Moby Arena, hosting the Fresno State Bulldogs (8-8, 1-2 MW). Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. MT, and the game will be streamed on the Mountain West Network.