FORT COLLINS, Colo. – The Colorado State Rams rallied late to survive a pesky Montana State squad for a hard fought 81-77 win at Moby Arena, Nov. 13. With the win, CSU improves to 3-0 under first year head coach Niko Medved, while the loss drops the Bobcats to 1-3 overall.
Coming out of the break from a back-and-forth opening 20 minutes with CSU leading 34-32, the Bobcats struck first taking a quick 35-34 lead off of an conventional three-point play from forward Keljin Blevins. Battling from a deficit throughout most of the second half, the Rams held a brief 55-54 lead following a jumper from redshirt-senior guard J.D. Paige as time was expiring. The Bobcats' Tyler Hall would then go on to hit three straight shots from beyond the arc, giving Montana State a 65-61 lead with 7:26 remaining. Over a three-and-half minute span starting with just over five minutes to play, Paige took over the offense punch for the Rams, scoring eight straight points to knot the game at 71. Redshirt-junior Anthony Masinton-Bonner hit the biggest three of the night off a fast break pass from freshman Adam Thistlewood to give the Rams a 74-71 lead with just 1:23 remaining, a lead they wouldn't give back. CSU extended their lead by hitting 7-of-10 free throws in the closing minutes to seal the victory.
For the contest, CSU shot 27-of-62 (43.5 percent) but just 6-of-30 (20 percent) from beyond the three-point arc. Montana State shot 27-of-58 (46.6 percent) including a respectable 14-of-35 (40 percent) from three. The charity stripe was big for the Rams, as the home team was 21-of-28 at the line while the Bobcats were just 9-of-13. MSU held a slight advantage on the boards, outrebounding CSU 35- 33. However CSU forced 15 Bobcat turnovers while just giving up seven, resulting in a 23-10 scoring advantage off turnovers for the Rams.
All five of the Rams starters reached double figures for the third consecutive game. Paige led all Rams in scoring, tying a career high with 23 points. Redshirt-junior center Nico Carvacho notched 15 points and 13 boards, marking the third consecutive game this season he has recorded a double-double. Masinton-Bonner had 14 points, with all but two coming in the second half after a slight ankle sprain at the end of the first. Jenkins tallied 12, while Moore recorded 11 in the victory. MSU's Hall led all scorers with 30 points.
In Their Words:
Head Coach Niko Medved on message to the team at halftime
"I told them 'this is great for us, this is a great test. This is going to test our poise, this is going to test our trust, we're in a close game. We've got some of you guys in foul trouble, it's not going your way, they got us on our heels. We're up two though, right? This is really going to test our poise and challenge us, and that's what we need. That's how you get better.' I think that was the message…we didn't play great, but you have to give the other team credit for that too. That's basketball, it happens. But hey, we stayed with it and we found a way to get the win."