CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa – Using balanced scoring with five players in double figures and clutch plays down the stretch, the Colorado State men's basketball program opened the 2015-16 season with a thrilling 84-78 victory at Northern Iowa, Nov. 14, as part of the Mountain West-Missouri Valley Challenge. It was CSU head coach Larry Eustachy’s 70th victory at the helm of the Rams.
Seniors Joe De Ciman and Gian Clavell and junior John Gillon led the Rams’ scoring with 16 points each, with senior Antwan Scott coming off the bench to chip in 12. Junior Emmanuel Omogbo, in his first action for CSU, nearly had a double-double with 11 points and nine rebounds. Jeremy Morgan led UNI with 20 points, while Wes Washpun chipped in 19.
Both teams were solid from the field, with CSU hitting 30-of-62 (48.4 percent) and Northern Iowa going 28-of-58 (48.3 percent) from the floor. The Rams committed just eight turnovers and outscored the hosts 15-10 off of miscues.
The two teams traded leads nine times during the first half before CSU took the lead on a De Ciman three pointer with 5:25 to go in the first half and built a seven-point halftime lead at 42-35. UNI came out and put on a spurt to start the second half, eventually tying the game at 46 and 48. Again De Ciman came up big, scoring a conventional three-point play to put the Rams up again, a lead they would never relinquish.
Colorado State built the lead to as many as 14 at 69-55 with 7:39 to play, but back-to-back triples from Aarias Austin ignited the home crowd and Paul Jesperson’s three made it a five-point game two minutes later. The Panthers eventually chipped the margin down to three, but the visitors had an answer each time to earn the win, including making seven of 11 free throws in the final minute.
IN THEIR WORDS...
"I like what we did today – I really do. I’m still trying to figure out who we should have playing in certain situations and who we shouldn’t... We had a group that was playing well in spite of being tired. I thought a big play was leaving our guys in with three fouls and they took out their point guard with three fouls and that’s really when we made our move." -- CSU Head Coach Larry Eustachy on the overall game.
"We are still getting used to the newer rules regarding timeouts, as we were out late in the game. I look up and we are out of timeouts. I thought they (the players) organized it well with lineups we hadn’t seen in practice and got it done. It was a great reinforcer about what we do in practice really pays off with what we did in the game." -- CSU Head Coach Larry Eustachy on the late stages of the game and how the team managed it.
"I think any win on the road is a super-hard thing to do, so when you get them, you feel great as a player and for the program. It is so hard to get a win on the road in college basketball. For us, we expected to win, as we go into every game expecting to win. How we played and what we did on the court was a positive for us and we want to keep building on that." -- CSU senior Joe De Ciman on getting a road win like this to open the season.
"It shows us where we are with how hard we have been practicing. We lost three of our leaders from last year, but the stats showed we have weapons with the five guys in double figures. We know that we can share and win, where last year it may have been one of the seniors going off and the rest supporting. It is a big win for us and I feel like we worked well together and it paid off." -- CSU senior Gian Clavell on what did this team learn about itself today.
STAT OF THE GAME...
• The Rams were effective inside against the Panthers, outscoring the hosts 36-22 in the paint.
- The Rams are now 61-17 in season openers in the modern NCAA era (since 1937-38), including eight in a row and 24 of its last 25. The last time CSU lost an opener was Nov. 9, 2007, losing a 75-39 decision at Montana. Overall in season openers, the Rams have gone on the road 23 times and are now 13-10 against the host squad.
- CSU head coach Larry Eustachy, in his 25 season openers, is an impressive 23-2. Eustachy has led his teams to 10 consecutive regular-season openers, dating back to a 70-68 loss to Georgia State in his first game as the head coach at Southern Miss in 2004.
- Coming of last year’s 31-4 mark, Northern Iowa had its 18-game home court win streak into the contest, which opened the season 12th among active win streaks, snapped with the loss to the Rams. UNI is now 7-3 in season openers and 9-1 in home openers under head coach Ben Jacobson. It was also the Panthers first loss in 15 home openers as well as the first loss in 22 games in the month of November at the McLeod Center, which is now in its 10th year of existence.
- CSU evened its historical series with UNI at one win apiece, with each team getting its victory in the Mountain West-Missouri Valley Challenge.
- Colorado State will open the home portion of its 2015-16 campaign on Thursday, Nov. 19, hosting Loyola Marymount of the West Coast Conference.
- Last season, LMU posted an 8-23 overall record and 4-14 mark in the WCC, tying for ninth in the regular season. The Lions return six letterwinners of 15 from last year’s team, including two starters.
- The game will air across the Colorado State Sports Network, including flagship 105.5 FM ESPN, with Gary Miller on the play-by-play and Brian Roth handling analysis.
- The game will have its video stream on the Mountain West Network, live audio on CSURams.com in partnership with Stretch Internet and live stats on GameTracker.
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