Dec. 23, 2013
By Craig Buchanan
Athletic Media Relations
FORT COLLINS, Colo. – The Colorado State Rams (8-4) avenged last year’s loss to the University of Illinois – Chicago Flames with one of their most complete performances of the season, en route to a 74-61 victory at Moby Arena on Monday night.
“I thought our effort was outstanding, and that’s what we expect,” Head Coach Larry Eustachy said. “I think we’re a good team, and we’ll just get better.”
Junior guard Jon Octeus led all Rams with 18 points, while junior guard Daniel Bejarano chipped in with his fifth double-double of the year with 10 points, 15 rebounds and five assists. Junior forward J.J. Avila also reached double figures on the night with 10 points as well as eight rebounds and five assists, as Colorado State played a clean game offensively.
“Coach always says to let the game come to you, and tonight was my night,” Octeus said. “I was just trying to play the game and focus on the defensive end.”
The first half of the game was controlled by the defense with both teams searching for ways to find easy baskets. The relentless defense played by both teams proved to make this a tough task, as CSU shot just 36.4 percent in the first half while UIC shot 37.5 percent in the half.
The difference was Colorado State’s relentless work attacking rebounds and its ability to take care of the ball. The Rams gained a decided advantage in the first half over the Flames with nine offensive rebounds and only one turnover in the first 20 minutes of action, compared to three offensive rebounds and seven turnovers for UIC, as CSU took a 30-23 lead into the intermission.
“I can’t remember having this many days off,” Eustachy said of the 12-day break from the team’s last game vs. Denver. “You saw with our shooting in the beginning, it was just tough. What we could do is what we do well, and that is defend and rebound.”
In the second half, both offenses began to find their rhythm. The Rams looked to take UIC out of the game early in the second half and extended their lead up to 12 points just four minutes into the half. The Flames, behind the play of senior guard Kelsey Barlow who scored 18 of his game-high 20 points in the second half, did not go away and cut the lead down to six or seven points several times.
UIC couldn’t get closer than six points at any point in the second half and fell out of contention when the Rams used a 22-6 run over a six minute period to push the lead to 16 points at 67-51 with just 3:44 left in the game. After struggling in the first half, Colorado State shot 51.7 percent from the field in the second half and made 12 of its 15 free throws to help put away the Flames with a 44-point effort in the second half.
Colorado State out-rebounded UIC 43-31 in the game and outscored the Flames 42-32 in the paint. The Rams will next take on Lamar on Saturday to close out their non-conference schedule. The game is set to tipoff at 2 p.m. MT and will be streamed on the Mountain West Network.
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