The CSU men’s basketball team found its offensive groove on Wednesday afternoon after struggling in their first three games of the season.
The Rams shot a season-best 53 percent from the floor while handling Maryland Eastern Shore 76-65. UMES hung around most of the afternoon, but CSU was able to keep them at a safe arms distance while on their way to a comfortable win at Moby Arena.
All nine players who saw the floor scored, led by Che Bob who tallied a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds. Emmanuel Omogbo recorded his second double-double in his last three games, with 11 points to go along with 10 rebounds.
J.D. Paige added 13 points to go along with five assists while Devocio Butler chipped in 10 more points.
The ball was moving around and everybody was making contributions on the offensive end. When that’s happening, that brand of basketball is awfully enjoyable to be a part of.
“It’s always lot of fun when the ball is moving, that’s what we try to do,” Bob said. “Easy things come when you just move the ball.”
It was a huge day for the offense after some early season struggles. In Sunday’s match up against Stanford, the Rams only totaled 49 points on 29.8 percent shooting from the floor. Coming into Wednesday, the Rams were shooting just 35.4 percent from the floor for the season.
Defense and rebounding will always be the staple of any team coached by Larry Eustachy, and with this, the team has to play to their strengths offensively. And the strength of this year’s team is getting the ball inside and attacking, which the Rams did quite well Wednesday, outscoring the Hawks 40-28 in the paint.
“Last year our strength was 3-point shooting,” Eustachy said.” That’s not our strength this year. We have to adjust to the players we have. The biggest thing is we’re defending people and rebounding the ball well.”
CSU (3-1) dished out 18 assists as a team, a mark that doubled their season average of 9.3 per game coming into today. Paige led with five and Omogbo contributed four.
On a team without a true point guard, this type of well-rounded passing may be critical in continuing to allow the Rams to succeed offensively. And, Omogbo also mentioned after the game how the adequate distribution of the ball had a lot to with CSU playing a lot more relaxed.
“We were just comfortable tonight,” Omogbo said. “Things came out of the offense, we didn’t try to force anything. I just hit guys when they were open. It wasn’t one guy trying to take four guys all at once. We just hit the open man.”
CSU fell behind to the Hawks in the first several minutes, but after a Butler steal and break-away flush at the other end, the Rams took a 16-14 lead and would never look back. CSU led the rest of the way from that point forward, taking their first double-digit lead (29-19) of the afternoon on a Paige 3-pointer with 4:05 left to play in the first half.
CSU led 39-31 at halftime while Bob nearly recorded a double-double at the midway point. Bob had 10 points and eight rebounds at the break. The Rams would stretch to as much as 13 in the second half, and kept the deficit above 10 for most of the second half.
As a team, CSU had seven official dunks, including Omogbo’s rim-rattling slam right over a Hawk defender in the second half, which also included a foul where Omogbo converted the old fashioned 3-point play.
CSU will have Thanksgiving Day off tomorrow before hosting Southeastern Louisiana on Friday at 2 p.m. MT.
Sports Reporter Michael Roley can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter @michael_roley