The thin bench may have finally caught up with Colorado State. With only seven scholarship players and two games within a few days, head coach Larry Eustachy’s bunch came out sluggish and got behind early to Boise State. The Broncos were able to hit key free throws down the stretch to escape from Moby Arena with a 79-76 victory Tuesday night.
“We just didn’t match their toughness or determination early” commented Eustachy after the game. “We got totally away from who we are.”
Colorado State (14-9, 6-4 MW) was down by as many as 19 points in the first half but fought back thanks to a pivotal four point play by senior guard Gian Clavell. Clavell hit a three pointer from way downtown while being fouled. He made the corresponding free throw and then hit another three pointer seconds later to help cap a 12-3 run which cut the Broncos lead to 10. Clavell would finish with 15 points but would leave the game briefly in the second half with an apparent ankle injury. While he did return, his departure combined with Colorado State’s foul trouble dampered any hopes of a comeback.
The Rams used big plays by Clavell and senior forward Emmanuel Omogbo to climb their way back into the game in the first half but it was sophomore guard’s JD Paige’s three pointer to cut the Boise State lead to three that gave Colorado State the momentum going into the locker room. Paige would finish with a team high 20 points. Omogbo had 16 points including three three pointer field goals to go along with his 11 rebounds for his 12th double-double of the season. He would foul out of the game going for a steal with about 90 seconds remaining in the game giving Colorado State one less scoring option when they needed it most.
Boise State (14-7, 7-3 MW) got help from some unexpected places. With potential Mountain West player of the year junior Chandler Hutchison on the bench with foul trouble, senior transfer James Reid went on a three point shooting terror. He went 6-9 from behind the arc to finish with 18 points but it was sophomore guard Paris Austin who sealed the game for the Broncos. Austin went 10-10 from the free throw line with six of those coming in the final 30 seconds. He finished with a game high 25 points.
This loss snaps Colorado State’s three game winning streak and gives Boise State sole possession of second place in the Mountain West conference. The Rams travel to UNLV on Saturday to take on the Runnin Rebels. Gametime is scheduled for 4pm and can be seen on CBS Sports Network.