John Gillon simply couldn’t be stopped.
The redshirt sophomore guard from Houston, Texas torched the Boise State defense for a career-high 25 points to lift the No. 24 Colorado State men’s basketball team to a 71-65 victory over the Broncos Wednesday night in front of 5,115 fans at Moby Arena.
Gillon, a transfer from Arkansas-Little Rock, played just 27 minutes but made the most of his time on the court, hitting 6 of 11 shots, including 4 of 4 from behind the arc. Along with Gillon’s career night, CSU got 13 points and four rebounds from J.J. Avila and 11 points and eight rebounds from Daniel Bejarano.
Mikey Thompson led Boise State 20 points and was the only Bronco to reach double figures.
“He was awesome out there,” Avila said of Gillon. “He hit three huge 3’s when we needed him and you saw at the end of the first half, we just let him hold the ball for 30 seconds and he got a foul and hit the two free throws. The game goes to John honestly, it was a team effort, but he played his heart out.”
The Rams were plagued by yet another slow start, falling behind 22-8 with 13:04 to play in the first half. After subbing out Avila, Bejarano and Stanton Kidd early in the half, CSU finally started to catch its stride after a 3-pointer by Gillon and a layup by reserve guard Fred Richardson III. The Rams slowly chipped away at the Broncos’ double-digit lead, cutting it to 28-26 with 3:26 left in the first frame. Boise State then responded with a quick 5-2 run to take a 33-28 lead into the break.
Despite shooting just 9 of 24 from the field in the first half, the Rams free throw shooting was what kept them in it. After struggling from the line in the majority of its games this year, CSU hit 9 of 11 from the charity stripe in the first half to stay within striking distance.
Following a layup from Avila to start the second stanza, Boise State went on a 9-2 over the first three minutes to extend its lead back to double digits. However, the Rams fought their way back into it again, closing the deficit to two points before taking their first lead since the opening minute of the game on a 3-pointer by Gillon.
CSU took its largest lead of the game at 62-56 on a basket from Kidd with 5:37 to play. The Broncos closed within one after a pair of free throws from Mikey Thompson with 3:41 to play and then again on a layup by Thompson with 1:31 to play.
“We were right in the game down one with two minutes to go with the ball,” Broncos head coach Leon Rice said. “It is the team that can make more plays down the stretch and they (CSU) were able to make a few more plays down the stretch to seal the game.”
But the final minutes belonged to Gillon as he closed out the Rams’ 14th-consecutive win with an and-one, and three more free throws to seal a 71-65 victory and move the Rams (14-0) to 1-0 in Mountain West play.
“It’s always good to be able to have a good game,” Gillon said. “I’m glad they (CSU fans) got to see me play at a high level. They (Boise State) gave me a lot of space and I think they respect that I can drive to the basket and finish so they gave me space and I was just able to knock down shots tonight.”
The Rams now turn their attention to a matchup Saturday at New Mexico against a Lobos team coming off of a 76-64 victory over Fresno State. The Rams and Lobos tip off at 6 p.m. on CBS Sports Network.
Collegian Sports Editor Keegan Pope can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter @ByKeeganPope.