The Colorado State men’s basketball team played one of its best games this season Tuesday night against Boise State, but the Broncos were simply better.
Behind 19 points from preseason All-Mountain West guard Anthony Drmic and 18 from former George Washington High School standout Thomas Bropleh, the Broncos rolled to an 84-72 victory over the Rams at Moby Arena. Despite having four players scoring in double-figures – Daniel Bejarano (23 points), J.J. Avila (13), Carlton Hurst and Dwight Smith (11) – the Rams simply couldn’t guard the Broncos’ arsenal of 3-point shooters.
Leading the shooting barrage was Drmic, who hit all three of his 3-pointers in the first half to push the Broncos out to a 43-36 halftime lead. Despite shooting 48 percent from the field in the first frame, CSU simply couldn’t match Boise State’s hot start that included hitting 8 of 13 shots from behind the arc.
“Our plan was to just stick to him (Drmic),” head coach Larry Eustachy said. “He’s the best shooter in our league, there’s no question about it. We lost him in transition and you just can’t do that. He’s the best shooter I’ve seen in a long time.”
While the Rams limited Drmic to just five points in the second half, it was Bropleh who picked up his slack. After going scoreless in the first 20 minutes, the senior from Aurora lit it up in the second half, hitting 7 of 9 shots including four of his six 3-point attempts.
“He just stepped up in a big moment,” guard Dwight Smith said of Bropleh. “Drmic hit those shots early and then Bropleh carried them the rest of the way. He just stepped up when they needed him but we need to have guys step up as well.”
After trailing by double-digits for most of the second half, CSU cut the deficit to as little as seven with 2:18 to play. But after a missed layup by Avila, Bropleh hit his final, and likely most important, 3-pointer of the game with 1:02 to play to stretch the lead back to 10. The Broncos then salted it away at the free-throw line for their second win in five games.
“This is a team that the Sporting News picked to win the Mountain West,” Eustachy said of the Broncos. “This is a team that shouldn’t be 7-6 in the Mountain West, I know it and their coach knows it. We just lost to a very, very good team tonight.”
After being dealt their third-consecutive loss, the Rams now turn their attention to Saturday when they welcome rival Wyoming into Moby Arena for the first of two meetings in the next two weeks between the teams. While there is plenty of motivation to win at home against their bitter rivals, tonight’s loss simply added fuel to the fire.
“There’s obviously a lot of motivation to win this game,” Bejarano said. “They’re one of the better teams in the conference and I know we’ll be ready to go and get this thing going back in the right direction.”
Next Up: CSU welcomes the Cowboys (17-9, 8-5 MW) to Moby after dominating them in both meetings last year. Saturday’s “Orange Out” game tips off at 4 p.m. and will be broadcast on ROOT Sports.
Collegian Reporter Keegan Pope can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @kpopecollegian.