March 8, 2014
LARAMIE, Wyo. - After trailing by as many as 18 points early in the second half of the 221st installment of the Border War against rival Wyoming, the Colorado State men's basketball team mounted a ferocious comeback. But the Rams (16-15, 7-11 MW) were unable to fully overcome the deficit, pulling within two points but falling 83-75, in a wild game that included 56 combined fouls, 28 each for CSU and UW, and saw five players - three Rams and two Cowboys - disqualified.
"I just thought we got out-competed early," said Head Coach Larry Eustachy. "We can't absorb - just like they can't - four minutes of being out-competed."
Senior guard Nathan Sobey led the Cowboys' charge that, scoring a career-high 33 point on 11-of-22 shooting including 4-for-8 from three-point range. He notched 19 first-half points and led the Cowboys to a 44-29 advantage at the break with the Rams' starting five hampered by foul trouble - two fouls for J.J. Avila, three each for Daniel Bejarano, Jon Octeus and Joe De Ciman - and a hand injury that limited starting senior forward Gerson Santo to just 5 minutes of action.
"It was about as unusual a game as I've been in, with the fouling, and (having to use) guys that usually don't play," added Eustachy. "But give Wyoming all the credit in the world. They came out, after 40 minutes, the winning team. I was proud of our guys in the second half for getting it to within two. Wyoming made the plays and we didn't."
With the team shooting just 24 percent (6-for-25) in the first half, it was the Rams' foul shooting (16-for-19) that kept them in the contest early on. De Ciman recorded all 13 of his points in the opening stanza, while the Rams' junior trio was held to a combined 10 points with six from Avila, four from Bejarano and a scoreless half by Octeus.
The Rams offense responded in the second half after a three-point play by Sobey pushed the deficit to 47-29 with 19:07 left in the game. CSU mounted a 13-0 run, that began with a layup by Carlton Hurst and ended with an Avila three-pointer at the 14:06 mark of the second half. Avila's deep jumper pulled the team to within five points, 50-45.
The Rams continued to chip away at the Cowboys' lead, and cut it to within two points twice, first, following a Bejarano three-pointers at the 6:05 mark, and again just 39 seconds later on a pair of David Cohn free-throws.
The Cowboys answered with a 10-2 run of their own to regain control, 74-64, with 2:57 left in the contest. The Rams were never able to get any closer than six points for the remainder of the contest as De Ciman, Bejarano and Avila all fouled out of the contest.
Avila led the team with 21 points, nine rebounds and a pair of assists, while Bejarano tallied 15 points and seven boards. De Ciman finished with 13 points, going scoreless in the second half after playing in foul trouble. He was the first player disqualified at the 11:10 mark of the second half.
Wyoming's Josh Adams and Derek Cooke, Jr., also recorded double-figures scoring with 22 and 14, points, respectively.
The loss snapped the Rams' four-game win streak against the Cowboys, and dashed the team's hopes of finishing as high as the No. 6 seed heading into next week's Reese's Mountain West Championship in Las Vegas, Nev. Instead, the Rams close the season as the No. 9 seed and will match up in the opening round against the No. 8-seeded Utah State Aggies (17-13, 7-11 MW), who swept the regular-season series between the programs in their first year in the MW. Tipoff is set for 3 p.m. MT/2 p.m. PT and the game will be streamed for free via the Mountain West Network at www.CSURams.com/videos.
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