CSU basketball squads set for stretch run in Mountain West

Moby Arena has become one of the toughest home courts in the Mountain West.

Moby Arena has become one of the toughest home courts in the Mountain West.

Jan. 23, 2014

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FORT COLLINS, Colo. – With February quickly approaching and the CSU men’s and women’s basketball programs coming off of the first of two idle dates in the midst of the conference grind, both Larry Eustachy and Ryun Williams have their squads poised to make noise in the Mountain West race.

The Rams are a combined 25-11 – 12-7 for the men, and 13-4 on the women’s side – heading into this weekend’s matchups vs. conference rivals New Mexico; the men hosting the preseason favorite Lobos at Moby Arena and the women facing a daunting road challenge in Albuquerque.

Williams has led the women’s program to its best start in 12 seasons and has them eyeing the program’s first postseason appearance since 2004, while Eustachy and the men’s program are positioned to extend a program record with a fifth consecutive postseason appearance in March.

The women’s team – which includes a talented crop of fresh faces – has put up incredible numbers en route to share of first place in the Mountain West standings through six games.  Newcomer Ellen Nystrom, a freshman from Lulea, Sweden, posted the first triple-double in school history (men’s or women’s) with 11 points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists in the Rams’ 101-60 win over San José State.

The Rams’ win over SJSU marked the first time the team eclipsed the 100-point mark since November 2004. The team has gone for 85-plus points in six games this season, and senior leader Sam Martin, a three-time all-MW selection, continues her assault on the record books, now ninth (and climbing) on the career-scoring charts with 1,371 points.

Led by a trio of junior starters in J.J. Avila, Daniel Bejarano and Jon Octeus, the men’s squad also boasts an explosive offense that has even surpassed the scoring production of the record-breaking 2012-13 squad. While the philosophy of Coach Eustachy and his staff remains centered on hard-nosed defense and rebounding, the Rams enter play this weekend scoring at a clip of 75.8 points per game, nearly three points better than last year’s version, with Avila, Bejarano and Octeus ranking among the best all-around players in the league. 

Avila leads the Rams’ version of the “Big 3” pouring in 18.9 points per game. He also ranks in the top-10 in the Mountain West in rebounding (7.4 rpg; 9th) and assists (3.5 apg; 5th), joining Bejarano as the only players in the Mountain West to rank in the top-10 in each category.  Bejarano ranks eight in MW at 16.2 points per game, and is the No. 1 rebounding guard in the nation pulling down 9.1 boards per game (sixth overall in the MW). He also ranks tied for ninth in MW with 3.2 assists per contest. Octeus holds his own as well, posting 11.3 points, 4.2 boards and 2.5 assists per game.  

Both the men’s and women’s teams have six home games remaining on their schedules.  On the men’s side, the Rams begin their stretch run this Saturday hosting New Mexico in the team’s annual “White Out” for cancer awareness.  Coach Eustachy and his staff will shed their dress shoes and opt for a pair of high tops instead as part of the National Association of Basketball Coaches “Suits and Sneakers” weekend in conjunction with the American Cancer Society.

The men’s team also hosts key matchups against UNLV (Feb. 5), Utah State (Feb. 11) and Boise State (Feb. 18) before arch-rival Wyoming comes to town for the Rams’ annual “Orange Out” on Feb. 22. 

On the women’s side, the Rams host Nevada (Jan. 29) and San Diego State (Feb. 1) before their annual “Pink Out” game against Air Force on Feb. 8. For the Rams’ matchup vs. the Falcons, CSU will be participating in the NCAA’s Pack the House Challenge, and encourage fans to wear their pink gear and fill Moby. Tickets to the Pink Out are only $4, and $2 of each ticket will be donated to the University of Colorado Health Cancer Center, a department of Poudre Valley Hospital. The team then hosts Fresno State in a battle that could decide the conference title on Feb. 15, followed by a tilt vs. UNLV on Feb. 28.

Senior Night celebrations are slated for March 5 vs. San Jose State (men’s) and March 7 vs. Wyoming (women’s). Each game will be a “Green Out” of Moby Arena, as the men’s team celebrates the careers of seniors Gerson Santo and Josh Morgan, and the women’s squad bids farewell to Sam Martin, Alicia Nichols and Hayley Thompson.

Single-game tickets start as low as $10 for men’s games and $6 for women’s contests. Fans can purchase tickets in a variety of convenient ways, by stopping by the CSU ticket office at either the McGraw Athletic Center (Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-6 p.m.) or the Ram Zone in Old Town Fort Collins (10 a.m.-6 p.m.). Tickets can also be purchased by calling 800/491-RAMS or visiting CSURams.com/tickets.


 

 

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