March 9, 2012
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By Danny Mattie
Athletic Media Relations
LAS VEGAS, Nev. – Six Colorado State players scored in double figures, led by a double-double effort of 16 points and 14 rebounds from junior forward Pierce Hornung, propelling the short-handed Rams to an 81-60 victory over the TCU Horned Frogs in the quarterfinals of the Conoco Mountain West Championship at the Thomas & Mack Center.
The Rams led wire-to-wire, despite third-leading scorer and No. 2 rebounder Greg Smith missing the game because of a sprained ankle suffered in the Rams’ pre-tournament practice Wednesday afternoon at Cox Pavilion.
All-MW first-team guard Wes Eikmeier, and the rest of the Rams, got off to a quick start in the game. Eikmeier hit a pair of early treys and added another jumper, while Dwight Smith, Greg’s younger brother, connected from the charity stripe to help the Rams open the game on a 9-0 run.
Smith finished with 13 points, tallying 11 before intermission. Eikmeier scored 15 and forward Will Bell added 14. But it was Hornung and Jesse Carr that posted the most impressive performances of the night.
Hornung scored his first points of the game late in the first half, reeling in one of his nine offensive boards on a Kaipo Sabas miss at the 5:05 mark and putting it back to spark a 14-6 Rams’ run that closed the half.
CSU went into intermission with a 16-point lead, and the Horned Frogs never got closer than 11 for the rest of the game.
Carr, a junior from Ainsworth, Neb., notched one of the best performances of his career, tallying 10 points, seven rebounds and a career-high nine assist for the Rams.
Junior guard Dorian Green (11 points) also finished in double-figures scoring for the Rams, and reached a key milestone in the victory, becoming just the 19th player in CSU men’s basketball history to reach the 1,000-point plateau with on a pair of free throws with 7:48 left in the contest to give CSU a 68-46 lead.
The Rams shot 52 percent from the field in the contest, while holding the Frogs to just 38.6 percent shooting. CSU also forced 15 TCU turnovers, with Hornung leading the way for CSU with four steals.
The win improves CSU to 20-10 overall, giving the Rams their first 20-win season since the 1997-98.
The Rams now turn their attention to the tournament semifinals and a matchup with top-seeded, and NO. 18/21-ranked, San Diego State (25-6). It marks the Rams’ first semifinal appearance since 2006-07.
Tipoff between the Rams and the Aztecs is set for 6 p.m. PT/7 p.m. MT and the game will be televised in HD on the CBS Sports Network.