CSU Rams avenge road loss at Boise with win over Broncos at Moby
FORT COLLINS — In a conference of chaos, the Colorado State men’s basketball team continues to hold serve at home.
CSU made Boise State its latest victim at Moby Arena as the Rams avenged an earlier loss to the Broncos with a 75-62 victory Tuesday night.
It was the Rams’ 12th win at home this season (12-1) and their fifth win on their home court in Mountain West Conference play.
In a topsy-turvy league that features five teams in the top 35 of the NET rankings, home wins are crucial, and CSU continues to make opponents miserable at Moby.
With the victory, the Rams avenged their Jan. 6 loss at Boise and improved to 18-5 overall and 6-4 in the Mountain West. Boise State dropped to 16-7 and 7-3.
“Terrific performance by our guys tonight all the way through,” CSU head coach Niko Medved said. “Came out from the opening tip and played great defense in the first half. I thought we challenged them physically.”
The defensive effort played a big part in the win as the Rams held the Broncos to their lowest point total in Mountain West play.
CSU also held Boise State’s Max Rice, the reigning Mountain West player of the week after he averaged 23.5 points last week in wins over Air Force and New Mexico to 11 points. He had a career-high 35 against the Lobos.
“We knew coming in that he was coming off a very impressive game down at The Pit,” CSU guard Isaiah Stevens said. “Coach Medved made it very clear that he’s capable of changing a game each and every night. He’s confident. Obviously, he’s skilled as well. We just didn’t want to give him anything easy.”
The few minutes of the game went back and forth with Patrick Cartier finally giving either team a lead of more than two with a layup that gave the Rams an 8-4 advantage three and a half minutes in.
Neither team was able to pull away early. It wasn’t until there was 6:35 left in the first half that the Rams were able to take a lead of more than five points. A pair of free throws by Joel Scott gave CSU a 25-18 advantage.
The Rams took their first double-digit lead of the first half on a pair of free throws by Scott that put CSU up 30-19 with 4:52 left in the first half. Boise State cut the CSU lead down to four with 2:14 left, but the Rams went into halftime with a 37-30 lead.
CSU shot 52.2% from the field in the first half after making eight of their first 10 shots. Nique Clifford led the Rams with eight first-half points. Stevens had seven and Scott and Cartier six each in the first half.
The early offensive success was a welcome change from the first time the two teams met.
“I felt like we also gave up a lot of possessions at their place just with turnovers, especially on my part,” Stevens said. “We just wanted to make sure that we took care of the ball, have a lot of possessions end in shots because when we shoot them, we like our chances of them going in.”
The Rams came out hot in the second half as well, scoring the first five points after the break to take a 12-point lead at 42-30. CSU maintained a double-digit advantage until the Broncos cut it to 44-35 with 15:39 left in the game.
Boise cut the CSU lead down to six at 46-40, but a three-point play by Joe Palmer increased the Rams’ advantage back to 49-40 with 11:57 remaining. A pair of free throws by Mbemba gave CSU a double-digit advantage again at 51-40.
A 3-pointer by Cartier gave the Rams their largest lead of the game at 53-40 with 9:35 remaining. CSU led 57-42 before the Broncos cut it down to nine, but that might be as close as they might get.
Stevens led the Rams with 16 points and 11 assists. Scott added 13 points and Cartier 10.
CSU will be back in action Friday night at home against San Jose State. Tip-off is at 7:30 p.m. at Moby Arena. The Rams will be looking for their fourth win in a row after defeating San Diego State, Fresno State and Boise State in a span of eight days.
“If we’re playing well, we can beat anybody,” Medved said. “We’ve just got to focus on ourselves and take the next one and if we play well, we’ll probably look up and at the end of the season, we’re right there, but we just want to keep going.”
The top four teams in the Mountain West all have three losses in conference play. CSU is one loss behind them with four.
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