Jan. 25, 2014
By Craig Buchanan
Athletic Media Relations
FORT COLLINS, Colo. - The Colorado State Rams (12-8, 3-4 MW) lost a nail-biter to Mountain West foe New Mexico (15-4, 6-1 MW), 68-66, on Saturday afternoon at Moby Arena in front of 5,592 fans decked out in white for the annual "White Out" game.
Daniel Bejarano once again led the way for the Rams with 21 points and seven rebounds, marking the fifth time in the last seven games that the junior guard has eclipsed the 20-point mark. Sophomore guard Joe De Ciman (14), and junior guard Jon Octeus (12) also joined Bejarano in double figures, but as a team CSU connected on just 32.1 percent of its shots from the field.
"I thought our guys played so courageously," Head Coach Larry Eustachy said. "It's hard to play when you're not making shots, and we weren't making them, but we still played this team to the wire."
Despite the poor shooting, the Rams looked to be in control throughout the game and led for the majority of the contest. Colorado State relied on its disciplined offense, committing just seven turnovers in the game, and attacked the basket to earn 12 offensive rebounds and 33 free throws.
The Lobos shot 46.9 percent from the field, including 56.5 percent in the second half, but committed 11 turnovers which led to 15 points for the Rams.
With senior guard Kendall Williams struggling in the first half, four points on two-of-nine shooting, Colorado State took a 27-24 lead into the intermission. In the second half, though, Williams returned to Preseason Player of the Year form, and registered 19 points and five three-pointers to help guide New Mexico to a 44-point second-half output.
The Rams kept pace with New Mexico in the second half primarily with their determination to get to the free throw line. CSU got the Lobos in foul trouble early, and was rewarded with 24 free throws in the half.
Junior forward J.J. Avila scored all eight of his points in the second half after being held scoreless in the first half. Avila struggled with his shot, going one-for-12 from the field, but made his impact elsewhere on the game with 12 rebounds and four assists.
With 4:38 in the game, the Rams faced their largest deficit of the game down 60-56. CSU quickly used a 7-0 run to take a three-point lead with 2:33 left in the game. Williams answered on the very next possession for New Mexico with a three of his own, and a Hugh Greenwood three-pointer with 51 seconds left in the game gave the Lobos the lead for good at 66-64.
"This team fights, and we went down swinging," Eustachy said. "We have to put it behind us because we have an even tougher game at Nevada."
Colorado State will look to return to .500 in the Mountain West on Wednesday with a road contest at Nevada. Tipoff is slated for 8 p.m. MT and will be streamed on the Mountain West Network.
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