For the second straight game, CSU came out victorious against the tough and resilient Wyoming Cowboys to finish off the Border War sweep of their rivals.
The Rams finished this one off from the charity stripe, going 6-6 in the final 2:03 of the game. David Roddy once again led the men from Fort Collins to victory with 15 points and 11 rebounds. The Rams are now 8-0 on the year when Roddy has 10 or more rebounds. Isaiah Stevens added 14 points, John Tonje had 10, but the Rams relied on their defense in this one to pull out the victory. Final score: 68-59.
Showing more urgency than last game, CSU put on a defensive clinic in the first 16 minutes of the game, holding the Pokes to 19 points, and carrying a lead of 18 points with 3:52 left in the first half. This was led mostly by the bench mob, going on an immediate 12-0 run after entering the game. John Tonje, P.J. Byrd, and Dischon Thomas have been reliable coming off the bench all year for the Rams. Freshman guard Isaiah Rivera has come on quickly as someone Niko Medved can trust, joining those 3 as one of the best bench units in the Mountain West. Sensing this one was getting out of hand, Wyoming clawed their way back, only trailing by 10 heading into the break.
Whatever urgency CSU had heading into this game was lost coming out of halftime. The second half was defined by missed shots from the boys in Orange. After building their lead in the first half primarily from inside the 3 point line, the Rams went away from that strategy in the second with a barrage of missed shots from deep, along with turnover problems that have been a consistent issue for CSU the last few games. This led to Wyoming slowly chiseling down the Rams lead until eventually it became a 1 point game at 60-59 with 2:27 left. CSU seized on multiple Wyoming mistakes in the final couple minutes, forcing multiple turnovers and hitting their free throws to close this one out.
Not many teams claim victory after committing 17 turnovers, and only shooting 17.6% (3-17) from beyond the arc, but the Rams did just that Saturday night. The combination of their 31-19 rebound advantage, along with their lock down defense (specifically on Marcus Williams) was the difference in this one. As one of the best 3 point shooting teams in the country, CSU proved they can win in a variety of ways.
A couple notes:
-Isaiah Stevens turned in probably his two worst games as a Ram so far in his young career these last two games. Credit Wyoming for playing great defense on him. Colorado State is going to need him to limit the turnovers moving forward. Regardless, Stevens continues to impress as a leader for the Rams along with Roddy. Hopefully these two can play their best heading into the latter part of the season.
-The high number of turnovers recently from the Rams continues to be an issue. This needs to be cleaned up.
-After losing to Wyoming last year in the conference tournament, effectively ending any hope of making the NCAA tournament, this two game sweep against their rivals was that much sweeter for the Rams. Niko Medved is now 5-3 in the Border War as CSU’s head coach.
Next up: New Mexico @ Colorado State, 9pm MST, on FS1