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Late-Game Rally Falls Short Against Aztecs

Feb. 4, 2006

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Fort Collins - Colorado State University's furious late-game rally fell short, as visiting San Diego State defeated the Rams, 85-81 in Moby Arena Saturday night.

Trailing by 15 points, the team's largest deficit of the night, 80-65 with just more than five minutes to play in the game, Colorado State guard Cory Lewis keyed a 14-0 run by scoring eight points as the Rams closed the gap to a single point. Stuart Creason's pair of free throws with one minute, 17 seconds remaining helped the Rams get within a point.

SDSU forward Marcus Slaughter's two free throws pushed the lead to three, but a driving layin by Lewis cut the lead to one, 82-81 with 41 seconds to play. Slaughter then made one of two free throws with 22.2 seconds left, and the Rams had a final possession to tie or win the game.

Lewis drove but couldn't score, then kicked the ball to forward Jason Smith. He drove baseline but dribbled the ball out of bounds. John Sharper's pair of free throws with 2.1 seconds left sealed the four-point win.

"We were trying to get him (Smith) a shot," said Layer following the game of the team's final possession. "There's no such thing as a moral victory. We want to win."

Early, it appeared the Rams would knock off the league-leading Aztecs. After spotting SDSU a 2-0 lead on Mohamed Abukar's jumper, the Rams scored the next eight points, including six by Lewis, to take a six-point, 8-2 lead. The Rams would later widen the lead to as many as seven on Michael Harrison's laying with 16 minutes, 47 seconds to play, 13-6.

But a 6-0 SDSU run closed the gap to a point before Smith hit a jumper and Sean Morris added a three-pointer to stretch CSU's lead to 21-15.

SDSU then scored the game's next eight points, and Sharper's three-pointer with 11:56 left in the half gave the Aztecs a lead they would never relinquish.



The Aztecs led, 45-39 at the half thanks to a torrid night from the field. SDSU made 19-of-26 field goals the first half, 73 percent.

But Colorado State scored the first six points of the second half to tie the game at 45 on Smith's jumper. From there, SDSU used a 14-4 run to regain control of the game, stretched the lead to as many as 15 before the Rams began a gallant comeback that fell four points short.

Lewis finished with a career-most 26 points, one of three Rams in double figures. Smith added 16 and Harrison 12.

SDSU was led by guard Brandon Heath, who finished with 28 points, 17 in the first half. But he did not score in the final 9:50 of the game. Forward Marcus Slaughter added 25, while Abukar scored 13 and Sharper finished with 11.

Colorado State falls to 12-10 overall, 1-8 in Mountain West Conference play. The Aztecs remain atop the league standings with an 8-1 mark, 15-6 overall record.

Colorado State is back in action Wednesday night, February 8, playing host to New Mexico at 7 p.m. in Moby Arena. Tickets are available by calling 1-800-491-RAMS, or on line at CSURAMS.com. Tickets to all CSU games are also available at all King Soopers and City Market grocery store locations throughout the state of Colorado.

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