Video by Travis Green, CTV11 Sports
Colorado State (19-4, 6-4 MW) shot itself right out of the game in a 59-48 loss at Wyoming (19-4, 8-2 MW).
It was poor shooting that doomed the Rams in the Border War once again, although this one was particularly ugly. CSU repeatedly launched jump shots over the Pokes’ zone defense but to no avail. The Rams went 3-for-25 on 3-pointers, and shot 30 percent from the field overall.
“We had good shots. They just didn’t fall like they normally do,” senior guard Daniel Bejarano said. “It wasn’t the environment. It wasn’t the crowd. Shots just weren’t falling.”
Larry Nance Jr. led all scorers with 19 points and also added 10 rebounds. Derek Cooke posted a double-double as well with 12 points and 11 rebounds.
J.J. Avila led the Rams with 18 points and 12 rebounds.
“I don’t think we did a very good job of working the ball around and getting a very good shot,” Avila said. “I think we settled for the first open shot we got.”
The Pokes jumped out to a 6-0 lead just like they did a month earlier at Moby Arena. The Rams, on the other hand, started the game by going 0-for-5 from the field. It wasn’t until the 15:04 mark that the Rams finally got on the board with an Avila 3-pointer. That shot did not exactly open the lid for the Rams though as they proceeded to score just two points over the next 7:06.
“We missed some shots and it just became contagious,” CSU head coach Larry Eustachy said.
The Rams did not reach double digits until the 5:24 mark of the first half, at which point Nance answered quickly with a 3-pointer to put the Pokes up 21-10.
Bejarano picked up his third foul with 2:14 left and would sit for the rest of the period. After a pair of Gillon free throws brought the Rams to within eight, Nance once again answered with a 3-pointer, this time at the buzzer to give the Pokes a 26-15 lead at the break.
It was the least CSU scored in the first half of any game this season. The Rams shot 20 percent from the field in the opening frame and 1-for-13 from behind the arc.
“I think we kept shooting until we saw the ball get in the basket and it just never happened,” Avila said. “I felt like we played good defense. We just couldn’t score.”
The next 20 minutes would be more of the same. Daniel Bejarano’s return rejuvenated the Rams momentarily but it would not last long.
Following a Bejarano 3-pointer, the Pokes responded with a huge alley-oop from Josh Adams to Derek Cooke Jr. which put them up 31-19 and swung momentum back in their favor for good. A jumper by Avila brought the score to 50-39 with 5:07 to play before a 7-2 run led by Nance and Cooke put the Rams away.
Photos by Abbie Parr
“At stretches we felt like we were making a run and they came back,” Bejarano said. “They didn’t let us make a huge run.”
CSU’s shooting struggles continued at the free throw line where it went 9-for-17. That coupled with their five second half turnovers dashed any chance of a comeback.
The loss for CSU makes it the first time Wyoming has swept the Border War since 2009. More importantly though, it gives the Rams their fourth loss in conference play.
“Some games you just can’t explain, and it was just one of those games,” Eustachy said.
Collegian Sports Reporter Emmett McCarthy can be reached by email at email@example.com and on Twitter @emccarthy22.