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Photos By: Eliot Foust
LARAMIE, Wyo. — The Border War no longer belongs to CSU.
In a game marred by 56 total fouls, 28 for each team, the Wyoming men’s basketball team did just enough in the second half to hold off a furious Colorado State rally to beat the Rams 83-75 in front of an announced crowd of 6,734 Saturday afternoon at the Arena Auditorium.
Behind a career-high 33 points from senior guard Nathan Sobey, the Cowboys (18-13, 9-9 MW) avenged their 82-67 road loss to the Rams on Feb. 22.
“Nate was terrific. We had to pull him out a couple to get a breather because he was so exhausted,” Wyoming head coach Larry Shyatt said. “But a good job by our assistants because they got him enough rest that he had his legs late in the game. He had some big finishes and hit his free throws down the stretch.”
For the Rams (16-15, 7-11 Mountain West), it was yet another rough shooting first half on the road, hitting just 6-of-25 shots in the first frame en route to a 44-29 halftime deficit. For the fifth time this season, the Rams shot below 25 percent from the field in the first half, all of which have resulted in losses.
“We can’t absorb long stretches of being out-competed because we won’t beat anybody that way,” head coach Larry Eustachy said.
Despite trailing by as many as 18 early in the second half, the Rams again rallied behind junior forward J.J. Avila, who had 15 of his team-high 21 points in the final frame. CSU cut the deficit down to two on a long 3-pointer by guard Daniel Bejarano with 6:11 to play, but it would get no closer as Wyoming closed out its first win in the Border War since Jan. 21, 2012 with timely buckets from Sobey as well as sophomore guard Josh Adams, who scored more than 20 points for his third game in a row.
However, the storyline for most of the 221st meeting between these teams was the officiating, with five players fouling out including Avila and starting guards Joe De Ciman and Bejarano, as well as Wyoming starters Derek Cooke Jr. and Riley Grabau.
“It was difficult, tough, hard, however you want to describe it,” Bejarano said of finding a rhythm in such a tightly officiated game. “Calls weren’t going away but we just tried to play through it. Stuff like that isn’t always going to go our way and we tried our best to get past it and that’s really all there is to it.”
NEXT UP: Saturday’s loss guaranteed the Rams the No.9 seed in next week’s Mountain West Conference tournament, where they will face No.8 seed Utah State, a team they’ve struggled against this season, losing at home and on the road to the Aggies. Wednesday’s game tips off at 2 pm and will be available for streaming on the Mountain West Network.
Collegian Reporter Keegan Pope can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter @kpopecollegian.