Feb. 26, 2012
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By Danny Mattie
Athletic Media Relations
SAN DIEGO, Calif. – For the third straight road contest, CSU Head Coach Tim Miles felt his program played well enough to come away with a victory in a hostile Mountain West environment. But for the third consecutive time, the Rams (17-10, 6-6 MW) were unable to hold on to a second-half lead, as No. 24/25 San Diego State (22-6, 8-4) rallied to overtake the Rams, 74-66, in front of a sell-out crowd of 12,414 on Saturday night at Viejas Arena.
The loss drops Colorado State to fifth in the MW standings, a game behind fourth-place TCU, and two behind conference leaders New Mexico, UNLV and SDSU, with two games to play.
“Our kids played with so much effort and so much heart,” said Head Coach Tim Miles. “We just didn’t have enough possessions that ended up in baskets to get over the top.”
The Rams got out to a strong start, leading for all but three minutes of the opening half, and held a lead as late as the 8:11 mark in the second. But a second-half SDSU rebounding edge and late foul trouble doomed CSU down the stretch, and the Aztecs knocked down 7-of-8 from the FT line in the final minute to seal the victory.
“I think our foul trouble made us get into zone (defense) a little more and made us play a little smaller than I wanted to,” added Miles. “But fouls are part of the game, and I would say that the extra possessions that San Diego State got with their offensive rebounds, especially in the second half, resulted in a lot of foul shots for them, and those were killers for us.”
SDSU’s Jamaal Franklin came up huge for his club, tying a career-high with 31 points, and pulling down a personal-best 16 rebounds.
“I thought he was just electric,” said Miles of Franklin’s performance.
The sophomore guard was especially effective late in the game. After a Wes Eikmeier layup cut the SDSU lead to 58-57 with 4:42 to play, Franklin answered with a three-pointer to push the lead back to two possessions. He closed the game scoring 13 of the Aztecs’ final 16 points, including a perfect 8-for-8 from the free-throw line in the final 3:44.
Eikmeier, who entered the game as the MW’s leading scorer, matched Dorian Green’s 14-point effort to lead Colorado State. Green also notched seven rebounds in the contest. Junior forward Pierce Hornung finished one rebound shy of a double-double with 11 points and nine boards, before fouling at the 6:29 mark of the second half. Greg Smith and Jesse Carr also fouled out down the stretch, leaving the Rams short-handed as they attempted to come back against the Aztecs.
Colorado State now returns home to Fort Collins Wednesday evening, hosting No. 21/20 UNLV on “Senior Night” at Moby Arena. The Rams enter the contest with a 13-1 mark at home and have won 12 straight in front of the Moby Maniacs, tying for the 15th longest home-court winning streak following Tuesday’s victory over No. 18/21 New Mexico. A win over the Rebels could keep the Rams’ NCAA tournament hopes alive, and give CSU a school-record third home victory over a top-25 program this season.
Tipoff is set for 8 p.m. MT and the game will be televised nationally on CBS Sports Network. Tickets are available by calling the CSU ticket office at 800/491-Rams, in person at the McGraw Athletic Center ticket office, or online at CSURams.com.