Colorado State was unable to build carry any momentum with it on the road in pivotal matchup between two middle of the pack Mountain West teams. The Rams (14-11, 6-6 MW) never overcame their slow start and fell 87-80 to UNLV (15-11, 6-7 MW) at the Thomas and Mack Center Saturday night.
CSU turned the ball over 21 times, resulting in 22 points for UNLV. In the first half, the Rams could not find any offense, missing their first five 3-pointers and being outscored 18-6 in the paint.
But, Emmanuel Omogbo was able to keep CSU in the game by attacking UNLV’s already depleted front court – Stephen Zimmerman and Ben Carter were both out after injuries from the previous weeks, and Goodluck Okonoboh transferred much earlier in the season.
Despite connecting on only two of his five shots from the charity stripe in the first half, he was able to get the Rebels in foul trouble. He wisely went at the Rebel’s Derrick Jones Jr., causing him to pick up his third foul with 4:24 remaining in first half, forcing him to sit the rest of the period.
Omogbo and Prentiss Nixon led the Rams with eight points each in the first half. However, the freshman guard, who fouled out Wednesday night against Boise State, picked up his third right before the half as well. He would eventually foul out with 9:52 remaining in the game.
The Rams’ 11 first half turnovers allowed the Rebels went into halftime up 36-32.
After the break, UNLV picked up where it left off in turning the Rams over. Jerome Seagers quickly recorded two steals, both of which led to transition baskets, including a highlight reel lob that Jones finished off from Patrick McCaw.
UNLV eventually gained some separation, as McCaw scored 10 straight points for the Rebels to extend the lead to 68-54. He finished with a game-high 20 points and also grabbed eight rebounds.
CSU was led by Joe De Ciman who scored 16. Omogbo posted a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds. Antwan Scott finished with 13, but started the game by going 1-for-10 from the field. CSU never led at any point in the game.
The Rams will continue their road stand when they play Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Utah State. The Aggies beat CSU 96-92 at Moby Arena on January 16.