Colorado State’s offense hasn’t been a question all season. The Rams have put up points in bunches, but came into Friday’s game giving up 85.5 points per game.
They answered with defense against Portland.
CSU held the Pilots to just 36 percent shooting en route to a 90-74 win Friday night in the semifinals of the Corpus Christi Coastal Classic on the campus of Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.
Senior guard Gian Clavell continued his scoring tear, pouring in 21 points on 6 of 10 shooting, including hitting 5 of 6 from behind the arc. Fellow senior Antwan Scott chipped in 17 points and John Gillon added 11 points, nine rebounds and five assists.
“There’s so many bright spots, and there’s so many things we can get better at,” Eustachy said after the game. “…In spite of some very poor spurts, we had some very good spurts for long periods of time.”
The Rams led early and often, starting off the night on a 10-3 run before the Pilots fought back into it, tying the game at 15 with 11:24 to play in the first half. CSU again extended its lead to eight on a basket by Tiel Daniels, but Portland tied it at 30 on a jumper by Jarrell Marshall with with 5:33 to go. CSU would close the half on a 14-6 run though, to take a 44-36 lead into the halftime break.
CSU opened the half with two free throws from Tiel Daniels, and the Rams dominated from there. The Rams stretched a 10-point lead early in the half to 28 just past the midway point of the second frame. A 3-pointer from true freshman Prentiss Nixon put the Rams up with 79-51 with 8:31 to play, and the Pilot would get no closer than 16 points the rest of the way.
The Rams will now face undefeated UTEP Saturday night in the championship game of the tournament, in what will be another reunion for CSU head coach Larry Eustachy and UTEP coach Tim Floyd. Floyd hired Eustachy as an assistant in 1986 at the University of Idaho, and Eustachy went on to replace Floyd at Idaho and eventually Iowa State when Floyd left to coach the Chicago Bulls.
Tipoff is at 5:30 p.m., and the game will be streamed online at the UTEP athletics’ site.
Jackson makes debut
Highly-touted junior college transfer Kimani Jackson made his first appearance of the season, scoring six points and pulling down seven rebounds. Jackson missed the Rams’ first five games of the season, including their exhibition game, after suffering from a concussion and migraine symptoms.
“I thought the real bright spot was Kimani,” Eustachy said. “He’s had his issues with concussions, and summer school this summer, and he’s been way behind. But you can tell that he’s different than anything we have in the middle, and that’s what we need.”
On a roll
Friday’s win gave CSU its 21st non-conference win in a row. CSU’s last non-conference loss came on Dec. 12, 2013 against the University of Denver.
Collegian Senior Sports Reporter Keegan Pope can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @ByKeeganPope.