Nov. 20, 2013
EL PASO, Texas -- In a wild game that featured a combined 54 fouls and 76 free-throw attempts, and the ejection of CSU head coach Larry Eustachy, the Colorado State men’s basketball team (2-2) came up just short in its come-from-behind bid vs. the host UTEP Miners (3-1) on Tuesday evening, falling 82-74 in front of 7,137 fans at the Don Haskins Center.
"We don't have any margin for error,” said head coach Larry Eustachy. “We've got to get more play out of everybody if we're going to have a chance to beat a team like this.”
CSU, already using a thin roster without junior guard Dwight Smith (broken hand), found itself in early foul trouble against the deeper UTEP squad. But the Rams continued to fight throughout the tight first half that featured four lead changes and two ties.
“That’s what we’ve come to expect from our team,” added Eustachy.
The Rams held slim leads at the 10:32 mark (16-14) and the 5:43 mark (26-25), and after a Josh Morgan three-pointer with 19 seconds before the intermission, the first of his CSU career, the team looked to head into halftime of the back-and-forth battle within striking distance, trailing 39-35.
That was before UTEP’s Julian Washburn answered Morgan’s shot with a three-pointer from the opposite corner as time expired in the half, pushing the Rams’ deficit to 42-35, and leading to Eustachy’s first technical foul as the teams left the court.
Eustachy earned his second technical foul just minutes into the second half, as UTEP was in the midst of a 9-0 run that would push their lead to 51-35, before the Rams got on the board thanks to the third of four three-pointers on the night by Daniel Bejarano.
With associate head coach Leonard Perry
taking over on the bench, the Rams continued to scrape their way back into the game, cutting the deficit to just three points twice in the final 5 minutes of the contest.
Bejarano, for the second straight game, tallied a career-high scoring effort (19 points) and finished just shy of a double-double with a team-leading eight rebounds. The 19 points matched J.J. Avila for game-high honors, as the duo, along with junior guard Jon Octeus and sophomore guard Joe De Ciman sparked the Rams’ second-half comeback effort.
Avila, Bejarano, Octeus and De Ciman combined to score the final 23 points for the Rams. Both Octeus and De Ciman finished with 10 points in the contest. De Ciman scored all 10 of his points, including two three-pointers, in the final 9:05 of the contest.
The Rams mounted the comeback effort without their two biggest players, as 6-10 junior forward Marcus Holt fouled out with 15:36 in the game, and 6-9 senior forward Gerson Santo drew his fifth foul at the 9:17 mark.
But CSU was ultimately unable to overcome a 53-36 rebounding deficit, while the Miners iced the game from the free-throw line in the waning moments of the contest.
The contest marked the final non-conference road game of the season for the Rams who open up a 10-game home stand on Friday, hosting in-state rival Northern Colorado to begin the Colorado State Challenge.