Going into this game against Fresno state, CSU had lost four straight Mountain West Tournament games. Suffice it to say, Niko Medved had his squad ready to play in this one.
The Rams were aggressive early, going straight at Fresno State big man Orlando Robinson for a couple of layups to start the game. Both teams started hot but cooled down quickly thanks to a ton of energy on the defensive end. Deon Stroud had 10 of the first 13 points for Fresno State and the game was tied at 13 with 11:52 to go in the first half.
Junior guard PJ Byrd immediately gave CSU a jolt off the bench, determined to make his presence felt on both the offensive and defensive end. The Rams ended up playing really good defense for much of the first half, forcing nine Fresno State turnovers and contributing to a poor shooting performance from the Bulldogs. True Freshman big man James Moors really stood out on defense, holding his own in the paint against Robinson and defending admirably when switching on the perimeter. Despite some good play from their role players, Colorado State wasn’t shooting particularly well. Specifically David Roddy, who was stifled early by a combination of good defense by FSU, as well as a few tough misses at the rim. Roddy didn’t get a shot to go down until 2:00 minutes left in the half, finishing with just 5 points heading into the locker room.
Relying on solid defense and getting to the hoop (18 first half points in the paint), the Rams built a 33-28 lead at halftime
Niko Medved made it a point to get Roddy going in the second, feeding him the rock immediately on a well designed play that ended in an easy layup. On the other side, Deon Stroud stayed hot for Fresno State. Averaging 12.1 PPG this year for the Bulldogs, Stroud had 15 points with just a couple minutes gone in the second half. Fortunately for CSU, Stroud forced his way out of the game, drawing his 4th foul with an ill-advised closeout on a 3 pointer from Adam Thistlewood. Fresno State didn’t lose anything with him out though, going on an 18-13 run and cutting the lead down to 1 with 6:43 left in the game.
After a scary moment where Kendle Moore went down with what looked like a potential knee injury, Ram fans everywhere were relieved when he came back in the game just a couple minutes later. If you want an idea of the type of kid this is, check out this video:
The back court of Stevens and Moore controlled this game throughout, ending the night with 16 and 15 points, respectively. Despite his rough start, David Roddy added 15 points and 7 rebounds. He ended up finding his aggressiveness near the end of the game, finally driving to the basket and drawing fouls. He ended up shooting 7-9 from the free throw line. Adam Thistlewood provided a solid contribution as well, going for 10 points and 7 rebounds. James Moors battled Fresno State’s best player Orlando Robinson all game long, and despite Robinson scoring 16 points, it took him 17 shots to get there. That’s the kind of defense you like to see from your Freshman big man.
Next up for CSU is a tough matchup against Utah State for a chance to go to the Mountain West Championship game. This game has tremendous implications, as it could very well serve as a play in game to the NCAA tournament. If the Rams lose, they will be testing their luck against an NCAA selection committee that hasn’t been kind to them in the past. If Utah State loses, that could be the nail in the coffin for their tournament chances. Get your popcorn ready, this is about to be a good one!
Tip off at 10:00 p.m. MST on CBS Sports Network.