Dec. 11, 2013
By Craig Buchanan
Athletic Media Relations
FORT COLLINS, Colo. – Despite shooting 54 percent from the field, the Colorado State Rams fell to 7-4 on the year after an 80-70 loss to in-state rival Denver (3-5) at Moby Arena on Wednesday night.
Junior guard Daniel Bejarano paced the Rams with 17 points and 12 rebounds, his third double-double of the season, while junior forward J.J. Avila chipped in with 16 points, six assists and four rebounds on seven-of-10 shooting.
The efforts by the two juniors were not enough for the Rams, however, as Denver controlled the tempo with its methodical Princeton-style offense. The Pioneers kept the game at a deliberate pace for much of the game, frustrating CSU and taking the Rams out of their rhythm. Denver was led by junior guard Brett Olson who scored a career-high 24 points, including 14 in the second half, and had five assists.
“I thought that their (DU’s) effort was better than ours from the beginning to the very end,” Head Coach Larry Eustachy said. “They were much more tenacious than us; I give them all the credit.”
The game featured six tie scores and nine lead changes, with all of them coming in the first half. Down 28-24, the Pioneers ended the first half on a 7-1 run to take the lead once and for all at 31-29 heading into the half.
Coming out of the intermission, Denver again started out well with 8-2 run to push the lead to a six point margin. The Rams were able to work back and tie the game back up at 43-43 and 45-45, but couldn’t find enough easy baskets in the game to get over the hump.
In the game, Colorado State was limited to just two fast break points, and was outscored 14-4 in points off turnovers and 18-12 on second-chance points. Normally a staple of Colorado State basketball under Eustachy, the Rams were out-rebounded 29-27 in the game, including 12-7 on the offensive glass. CSU is now 0-3 on the year when being out-rebounded by its opponent.
With the game tied at 45-45, the Pioneers used a 16-6 run to vault the lead up to a comfortable 10 points with 7:13 left in the game. Colorado State responded with a three-point play from junior guard Jon Octeus, who finished with 12 points, to cut the lead to seven with 6:52 left in the game.
Seizing all of the momentum from the Rams, the Pioneers put away the game with a possession that took 1:38 off the clock on the very next play. Needing a stop, Colorado State forced Denver into a contested shot at the end of the shot clock, but Denver ended up corralling the loose ball. On the possession, the Pioneers had three offensive rebounds before Nate Engesser knocked in a baseline jumper.
“We didn’t play well at the end of the game and throughout the game when it counted,” Bejarano said. “They got every loose ball; we just didn’t want it as bad.”
Denver kept the lead around double digits for the remainder of the game, en route to its 80-70 victory over Colorado State. The Rams will look to rebound with another home contest on Dec. 23, as the team takes on the University of Illinois – Chicago. Tip-off is slated for 7 p.m. MT and will be streamed on the Mountain West Network.
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