FORT COLLINS, Colo. - Four Rams scored in double figures as Colorado State (16-14, 7-10 MW) celebrated Senior Night with a 78-66 win over San José State (7-22, 1-16 MW) at Moby Arena on Wednesday night.
Junior guard Jon Octeus led Colorado State with 21 points while junior guard Daniel Bejarano scored 19 points and pulled down a team-high nine rebounds. Junior forward J.J. Avila provided a well-balanced game with 15 points, seven rebounds and eight assists, and sophomore guard Joe De Ciman rounded out the double-figure scorers for the Rams with 10 points.
"I think we played the best we have played all year for long periods of time," Head Coach Larry Eustachy said. "I never felt like we were going to lose this game, even when they got it to four; we were just playing too well defensively and making the plays."
The Rams shot 49 percent from the field for the game and utilized 32 free-throw attempts to help propel themselves to a double-digit victory to close out its home season. Colorado State won 14 games at Moby Arena this year, marking the third consecutive year that the Rams have accomplished this feat. Over the past three years, CSU has won 85 percent of its contests in front of its home fans.
While Colorado State consistently found itself at the free-throw line, the Spartans were limited to just seven free-throw attempts as CSU's tough defense kept them out of the paint and forced them to take long jumpers. The Rams outscored the Spartans 32-24 in the paint, and capitalized on 17 second-chance points compared to just six for SJSU.
"This team has really come together," Eustachy said. "We play the right way together; nobody cares who gets their points."
San José State took an early lead after back-to-back three pointers from Devante Wilson to open the game, but once CSU regained the lead at 8-6 with 15:54 left in the first half, it never relinquished the lead. The Spartans kept the lead as close as three points at 30-27 in the first half, but the Rams utilized a 9-1 run over 1:50 to take a double-digit lead into the intermission at 44-34.
Colorado State's lead grew to as much as 17 points at 57-40 with 14:05 left in the game, but SJSU showed some fight and quickly closed the gap. After a 16-3 run over 3:15, the Spartans cut the lead to just four points at 60-56 with 10:26 left in the game, but the Rams responded.
The Rams leaned on their junior playmakers in Avila, Bejarano and Octeus down the stretch and erased any chance of a comeback from the Spartans with another sustained run, this time a 15-2 run over 3:38. The run pushed CSU into the lead at 75-58 with just 5:22 left in the game, and the Rams held on from there to seal the deal and send their two seniors, Gerson Santo and Josh Morgan, away in style.
Santo finished the game with two points and three rebounds in 20 minutes and contributed mightily to the Rams' solid defensive effort. Morgan brought the fans to their feet when he checked in for the final three minutes of action.
"It felt great," Bejarano said of the win. "We knew we needed to win this game, not just for the team, but for the two seniors."
Colorado State closes out its regular season schedule on Saturday with a trip north to visit Border War rival, Wyoming. The Rams will look to duplicate the success it found against the Cowboys earlier this season when the team knocked off Wyoming 82-67 just two weeks ago at Moby Arena. Tipoff is slated for 2 p.m. MT and will be televised on ROOT Sports.
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