Jan. 27, 2013
FRESNO, Calif. – All five starters scored in double-figures, and sixth-man Daniel Bejarano added nine rebounds and seven points, including a spectacular three-pointer in the game’s waning moments, to help lift Colorado State to a 74-63 road victory over Mountain West newcomer Fresno State on Saturday night at the Save Mart Center.
Colorado State (16-4, 3-2 MW) outrebounded the Bulldogs by a 40-21 margin in the contest, building a lead as large as 18 points at halftime, but the Rams were ready for Fresno State (7-12, 1-5) to make a run in the second half.
“We knew they weren’t going to lay down,” said Head Coach Larry Eustachy. “This is as hard-playing a team as there is in the league. They came back and I thought we withstood it. It was a great win for us.”
Colorado State, which had lost four straight on the road heading into the contest, initially broke the game open with a 9-0 run early in the first half to turn an 8-7 deficit into a 16-8 lead they would never relinquish after a pair of Greg Smith free-throws at the 11:32 mark.
The lead ballooned to 18 points entering the intermission, as Colorado State closed the half on a 12-3 run over the final 3:43. That run featured more key free-throws from Smith, who hit 6-of-6 from the stripe during the stretch to lead the team into the locker room with 11 first-half points.
But coming out of the break, Fresno State’s physicality helped the team scrape back to within striking distance, eventually closing to as close as five points, 50-45, midway through the half, before Colorado State regained control.
“Fresno State is one of the harder playing teams in our conference,” said senior guard Wes Eikmeier echoing Eustachy’s sentiments. “They have some losses but they never stop fighting, so at halftime we knew they were going to claw back.
“We knew we’d have to play through some calls, like always on the road, and I think we showed a lot of guts down the stretch making plays and sticking with it.”
Dorian Green sealed the victory by going 8-of-8 from the FT line in the final 60 seconds of action - en route to a team-high 17 points - but it was Bejarano that quieted the Save Mart Center crowd of 8,103 for good, as the sophomore guard knocked down a turnaround three as the shot clock expired from 25 feet away to push the Rams’ lead to 68-58 with 1:18 to play.
Fellow seniors Pierce Hornung and Wes Eikmeier each tallied 12 points to join Green and Smith in double-figures scoring, while center Colton Iverson notched his ninth double-double of the season with 11 points and a game-high 13 rebounds in the contest.
In addition to the Bulldogs’ defense, the Rams also had to endure a stretch of 5 minutes, 41 seconds in the middle of the opening half without a shot clock above their basket, after a malfunction forced officials to shut off the timer directly above the west basket.
Not long after the hoop was replaced at a media timeout, the game was delayed again for close to 15 minutes, at the 3:43 mark of the first half, when Iverson’s monstrous dunk broke the same goal, forcing Save Mart Center officials to bolt on a new rim before play could resume.
Colorado State now returns to the friendly confines of Moby Arena, looking to extend the nation’s fourth-longest home court win streak (24 games) on Wednesday night against Boise State. Tipoff between the Rams and the Broncos is set for 7 p.m. MT.