Dec. 20, 2009
By Alan Rakowski
Athletic Media Relations
FORT COLLINS, Colo. – Strong games from junior Travis Franklin and true freshman Dorian Green, who scored 22 and 18 points respectively, once again led Colorado State to victory, as the Rams defeated Northern Arizona, 64-56, at Moby Arena Sunday.
The win gave the Rams (8-3) their best start at home (6-0) in the Tim Miles era, and their best start since 2006, when they won their first six games at Moby.
Northern Arizona, who came into Sunday’s game just 3-6 (0-2 in the Big Sky Conference) on the year, fought hard for all 40 minutes. The Rams expected nothing less from the Lumberjacks, coached by Mike Adrias, who is in his 11th year at NAU.
“Nothing is easy,” said Miles. “That’s our team motto.”
The Rams came out strong to open the game and led the entire first half thanks to a stellar first-half performance from Franklin, who tallied 12 points (4-for-5 from the field, 4-for-4 from the free-throw line) and pulled down six boards, in the game’s first 20 minutes.
Franklin scored the game’s first bucket just 36 seconds in, and Colorado State led by as many as 14 in the first half, before heading into the locker room with a double-digit advantage (33-21).
But the Lumberjacks refused to go down easy. A jumper by NAU guard Gabe Rogers at the 16:06 mark ignited a 14-1 run by Northern Arizona that gave the Lumberjacks their first lead of the night, 40-39, with just over 12 minutes to play in the game.
On the ensuing possession, Franklin converted on a three-point play to put the Rams back up by one. The Lumberjacks regained the lead at the 11:24 mark and went up by four after a free throw by NAU center Josh Lepley. But then CSU looked to its two true freshmen to take over the game.
Greg Smith, a forward from Omaha Neb., who was expected to redshirt this season, sparked a CSU run with a dunk at the 9:23 mark.
“Me and Pierce (Hornung) were saying, ‘It’s dead in here; we got to do something to get something going,’” Smith said. “When I saw the rim, I said, ‘I got to go for it.’”
Over the span of the next 2 minutes, Smith and Green combined for eight points, three steals and two rebounds to put the Rams back up by four. The Rams would lead the rest of the way, as the Lumberjacks were not able to cut Colorado State’s lead below 4.
Smith totaled 10 points and 10 rebounds, giving him his first double-double of his career.
Green tallied 18 points and shot 6-for-8 from the free-throw line. Franklin had a game-high 22 points (6-for-7 from the field, 10-for-13 from the line) and notched his third 20-point performance of the season.
Sophomore point guard Jesse Carr saw his first action for CSU since Feb. 24, after going down with a stress fracture in his pelvis. Carr, who averaged 8.8 points for the Rams in 2008-09, finished with two points in limited playing time Sunday.
Colorado State now will head out west to take on the UCLA Bruins Tuesday. Tipoff is set for 8:30 p.m. MT.
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