Junior F J.J. Avila
Feb. 27, 2014
LAS VEGAS, Nev. – After trailing by as many as 14 points, and facing a double-digit halftime deficit, the Colorado State men’s basketball fought back to within one point of the host UNLV Runnin’ Rebels at the Thomas & Mack Center Wednesday night. But the Rams were unable to reclaim a lead, eventually falling 78-70.
With the loss, the Rams fall to 15-14 overall, and 5-10 in the Mountain West, while the Rebels improve to 18-10 (9-6 MW).
Colorado State was led by junior trio of J.J. Avila, Daniel Bejarano and Jon Octeus, who combined to score 60 of the Rams’ 70 points in the contest. Avila notched a game-high 22 points, while Bejarano added 21. It was the 11th 20-point game of the season for each player. Both Avila and Bejarano also pulled down eight rebounds. Octeus added 17 points and six boards of his own.
UNLV built a double-digit lead in the first half by capitalizing on CSU turnovers and fast-break points, but the Rams were able to slow the Runnin’ Rebels down in the second half and began to chip away at the deficit.
Following a pair of Roscoe Smith free-throws, which gave the Rebels a 56-44 lead at the 12:36 mark of the second half, Bejarano was forced to the bench with four personal fouls. That was when the Rams mounted their comeback. The Rams went on a 15-4 run, which include back-to-back daggers from three-point range by Avila and Octeus to pull within 62-61 with 8:30 left in the contest.
Moments later Rams’ sophomore guard Joe De Ciman - who tallied eight points, three rebounds and three assists – headed to the free-throw line with a chance to tie the game and give the Rams’ their first lead since 3-2. However, the front end of De Ciman’s one-and-one rimmed away, and the Rebels answered with a 9-0 run of their own to regain control with less than 5 minutes remaining.
The Rebels secured the victory from the charity stripe where they closed the game by hitting 10-of-12 free-throws over the final 5:53, pushing the lead back to double-figures and 78-68, before a late layup by Bejarano pulled the Rams to within 78-70.
Colorado State is idle during action this weekend, but returns to the court next Wednesday night hosting the San José State Spartans on “Senior Night” in the Rams’ regular-season home finale Moby Arena. Tipoff between the Rams and the Spartans is set for 7 p.m. MT. Postgame, CSU will pay tribute to the careers of senior duo Gerson Santo and Josh Morgan.
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