CSU played its first NCAA tournament game since a 79-67 loss to No. 3 seed Duke in the first round on March 20, 2003, in Salt Lake City, Utah. The NCAA appearance marked the ninth in program history. CSU now is 3-10 all-time in the tournament.
The Racers outscored CSU 18-2 over the first 10-plus minutes of the second half, breaking the game open.
Today marked the first-ever meeting between the Rams and Racers.
The Rams carried a 24-23 lead into the locker room. CSU jumped out to a 10-3 lead with 15:10 remaining, fell behind by five at the 6:54 mark, then retook the advantage on Jesse Carr’s three-pointer with 1:44 left. CSU outscored the Racers in the first half 10-8 in the paint, and 9-7 in bench scoring. The Rams also commanded a 21-14 rebounding edge.
CSU held Murray State to 23 points in the first half, matching the Racers’ season low (Murray State also trailed 24-23 on a neutral court in an eventual 64-62 win over Alaska-Anchorage on Nov. 23).
Looking ahead to next season, the Rams lose only two seniors, G Kaipo Sabas and F Will Bell. They return four starters, including all three all-conference selections (G Wes Eikmeier, F Pierce Hornung and G Dorian Green). What’s more, CSU adds to its arsenal G Daniel Bejarano (Arizona) and 6-10 F/C Colton Iverson (Minnesota), Division I transfers that sat out this season. CSU played its fifth ranked team (eight games, including conference foes), extending the single-season school record. CSU finished 3-5 against ranked teams in 2011-12.
CSU has advanced beyond the opening round in the NCAA tournament two times, in 1969 and 1989.
With the loss, CSU finishes the season 20-12. The 20 wins ties for the Rams’ fifth-most wins in program history, the first CSU team to reach that mark since the 1997-98 campaign.
F Pierce Hornung tied a career-high with 17 rebounds (two previous occasions, vs. Air Force, Feb. 4, 2012; at San Francisco, Nov. 29, 2009). He had 11 boards in the first half, helping the Rams to a 24-23 advantage on the scoreboard at intermission. His last rebound in the first half marked the 500th of his career. His 17 boards were the most for the Rams in a tournament game since Dale Schlueter grabbed 19 in the first round in 1966.
Hornung now has 14 career double-digit rebounding games, and the Rams now are 12-2 in those contests.
Hornung also registered his sixth career double-double, the first time in six games the Rams have lost such an effort.
Green, who entered averaging 13.5 points per contest, was held scoreless for only the fifth time in his career. The last opponent to hold him without a point was Montana, in the first game of the 2011-12 campaign, a 64-58 win Nov. 11 at Moby Arena.
G Wes Eikmeier in the first half surpassed 750 points in his career, which began at Iowa State.