Feb. 16, 2012
By Danny Mattie
Athletic Media Relations
BOISE, Idaho - Colorado State junior guard Wes Eikmeier scored a career-high 30 points, but the CSU men's basketball team was hindered by free-throw struggles throughout and poor late-game execution that allowed Boise State's Derrick Marks to score the deciding lay-in with eight-tenths of a second left. Marks' game winner pushed the Broncos past the Rams, 70-69, in front of 3,312 at Taco Bell Arena on Wednesday night.
The loss drops Colorado State (15-8 overall) to 4-5 in the Mountain West and into a tie for fifth in the league standings with Wyoming, heading into Saturday's second leg of the "Border War" between the bitter rivals. The loss also marks the Rams' eighth straight conference road loss. BSU improved to 12-12 overall and 2-7 in the MW.
Colorado State, who hit just 3-of-18 from the field to start the game, erased an 11-point first-half deficit shortly after the intermission, and following eight ties and eight lead changes in the second half alone, the Rams held a 69-66 advantage when Eikmeier's jumper fell with 58 seconds to play.
Kenny Buckner, who scored a team-high 20 for the Broncos, converted quickly on a layup with 41.5 seconds left to cut the Rams' lead to 69-68. Head Coach Tim Miles called a timeout on the ensuing possession, but CSU was unable to get off a shot, turning the ball over on a shot-clock violation and setting the stage for Marks' late-game heroics with 6.5 seconds left to play.
"We wanted to run a play that we figured would take about 10 seconds," said Miles. "They (BSU) denied a pass and we didn't get open, and it broke down. When Wes popped out, they had a guy step up to take a charge and there was no call. Then the play was dead, and there was no way we were going to get a very good shot off. We made an extra pass and it was too late."
Following the Rams' turnover, the Broncos inbounded the ball and Marks raced up court, attacking junior guard Dorian Green and hitting the acrobatic lay-in with less than a second remaining.
"We just have to stay in front of him there and we didn't," said Miles of Marks' winner. "We just got out of the way and allowed a layup for fear of fouling, and at the end of the game, you've just got to make it as difficult as possible for the offensive player. But we didn't do that."
"This is two games in a row that we have played well enough to win and we haven't," added Miles. "Our best players have made errors. We had another turnover late, and then the shot-clock violation, with our best guys on the floor and with a clear design after a timeout both times. We just don't make the plays.
"When those things happen, you're going to lose. You just have to see if we can find ways to be effective in late-game situations. We have been all year, and that's what's frustrating. And now it just seems like, in a week, it's crept up on us twice."
The Rams, who entered the contest ranked ninth nationally in free-throw shooting, hit just 19-of-30 (63.3 percent) from the charity stripe in the contest, well below the team's season average of 76.6 percent. Seven of the Rams' 11 missed free throws came in the second half.
"That was sickening to me," said Miles. "Make your layups, make your free-throw and you win the game. We didn't do either."
Jesse Carr helped Eikmeier pick up the slack for the Rams' offensively, tallying 15 points to go along with four rebound and a pair of assists in the contest.
"I thought that Jesse had an outstanding night," said Miles "He was solid defensively, and really played one of his better offensive games."
The Rams will now return to the friendly confines of Moby Arena for Saturday's rivalry game with UW. CSU is 11-1 overall at home this season, and riding a 10-game winning streak into the team's annual "Orange Out" game. Tipoff between the Rams and Cowboys is set for 7 p.m. MT and the game will be televised live nationally on The Mtn.
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