Dec. 5, 2009
By Alan Rakowski
Athletic Media Relations
FORT COLLINS, Colo. - Saturday's matchup with another instate rival, the Denver Pioneers, at Moby Arena, had all the makings of Tuesday's loss to Northern Colorado for Colorado State. But this time the Rams found a way to defeat one of their Colorado foes.
The Rams dug themselves a big hole early, committing four turnovers in the first four minutes, and trailed by a score of 11-1 with 15:17 remaining in the first half.
"When I saw 11-1, I said, `That looks eerily familiar,'" CSU Head Coach Tim Miles said.
But a 17-7 run by CSU helped the Rams even the score with just under 8 minutes to play in the half. CSU then outscored the Pioneers 17-11 to head into the locker room with a 35-29 advantage. The Rams never trailed the rest of the way and edged out the Pioneers by a final score of 64-59. The loss to CSU snapped a five-game winning streak for Denver (5-2).
CSU (5-3), who remains perfect at home (3-0) this season, was led by junior guard Adam Nigon, who finished with a career-high 14 points and also added five boards and two steals. He also tied a career-high for three-pointers made with three.
"Coach told me at the end of last year I need to find ways to get on the floor," Nigon said. "I felt that with a jump shot threat I could find more minutes for myself. And just stay persistent of getting in the gym and it's starting to work out for me."
Travis Busch, a transfer from the University of Minnesota, saw his first action in a Rams uniform after missing the first seven games of the season recovering from a torn ACL. He tallied seven points in 19 minutes, six of which came on three-point plays.
"It was very nerve-wracking to come back tonight," Busch said. "Just a lot of rehab, two-and-a-half hours a day. This was the easy part because I didn't really have to think about it. I have been playing my whole life. It was natural and it felt good."
CSU led by 10 with 5:52 to go in the game, but Denver wouldn't fold. A three-pointer by Denver guard, Sabatino Chen, who finished with 10 points (3-of-4 from the field, 3-for-3 from the free-throw line) cut the Rams' lead to one with 2:49 left to play. But four points by Nigon down the stretch combined with 6-of-8 shooting by the team from the charity stripe in the final 1:39 helped the Rams pull out the win.
Senior guard Nate Rohnert, the Pioneers' leading scorer (19.3 ppg) coming into Saturday's game, was held to only 10 points, including just two points in the second half.
Nine players scored for CSU. Junior Andy Ogide recorded 12 points (8-for-10 from the line) and six rebounds. Nigon and Arin Dunn, both graduates of nearby Broomfield High School, each played 32 minutes. Dunn managed five points, three boards and an assist.
CSU is now 3-0 when leading at the half. Saturday's game was the 159th matchup between the two teams. The last time the teams met at Moby, the Rams defeated the Pioneers 44-40.
CSU will square off against arguably its biggest instate rival, the University of Colorado, Thursday at Moby Arena. The game will air live on the Mtn. Tip-off is set for 7:30 p.m. MT.