This game was too close for comfort for the ascending Colorado State Rams basketball team. Wyoming, no slouch of their own, proved to be a tough test Thursday night for the Rams in Laramie. It was the first of two match ups against the two this week, and it was a dog fight until the very end.
Things were not looking good for CSU in the first half. Sloppy play from the Rams led to 11 first half turnovers. Isaiah Stevens especially struggled with 3 of his 5 turnovers coming in the first half. It ended up being an overall difficult night for the normally reliable Sophomore guard out of Allen, TX. It wasn’t just Stevens though, as the whole Rams team struggled to get things going in the first half. Wyoming on the other hand was carried by Freshman guard Xavier DuSell, who impressed with his 3 point shot to the tune of 14 first half points. CSU actually managed to shoot better than Wyoming from the field going into the break, but it didn’t matter, as the Rams went into the locker room trailing 38-32.
The second half saw a different, more disciplined Rams team. The team CSU fans have grown accustom to in the Nico Medved era. They cleaned up their ball security, and came out of halftime with a renewed sense of urgency. Trailing by 6 at half, they clawed back, eventually tying the game at 51 on a P.J Byrd jumper with 11:10 remaining on the clock. From there it was a back and forth affair until the very end. David Roddy stepped up big time, as did Adam Thistlewood and Kendle Moore, but John Tonje was the catalyst. Not only was he efficient (shooting 4-5 from the field, 2-3 from 3), he once again proved to be a player the Rams can trust with the ball in crunch time. After a Marcus Williams 3 pointer tied the game at 72 with 12 seconds left, Tonje drove the lane and sealed the game with a layup with 5 remaining. That’s all she wrote, as a Kwane Marble II heave fell short, and the Rams escaped with a victory.
It was a hard fought win for the Rams who had just come off two heavyweight battles with Utah State and Boise State, splitting both of those series. I think it’s safe to say CSU needs to sweep the Cowboys on Saturday to be taken seriously as not only a Mountain West contender, but a potential NCAA tournament team.
The Rams destiny is in their hands, let’s see if they can seize the opportunity.
Next game: At Wyoming, 4pm MST, CBS Sports Network.