Exhibition basketball is usually for improvement before the season starts, but Sunday night’s game took on a greater meaning for the Colorado State Rams. CSU defeated the Northern Colorado Bears 83-79 while raising funds for hurricane relief for those affected in Puerto Rico.
General admission tickets were sold for $5 a piece with courtside tickets costing a little bit more. A crowd of 1,079 attended the game, making out to over $5,400 raised for the charity Unidos por Puerto Rico. A portion of concession sales will also go towards the charity.
“We have Gian (Clavell) and his PR in our prayers,” senior Che Bob said on the charity. “We talked to Gian about his GoFundMe account and everything we could do to help him, it was good to do what we did for him.”
Former CSU guard Gian Clavell helped in the motivation for putting on the extra exhibition matchup because of his Puerto Rican roots. Clavell could not attend the game because of his obligation to the Dallas Mavericks, but sent a video message thanking CSU that was played on the board after the first timeout of the game.
“I thought it was for a great cause and I don’t think either coach could be happier with what they got out of it,” head coach Larry Eustachy said.
The two teams put on a solid show for the fans that attended the matchup. CSU held a small lead at halftime with a 47-46 advantage. Senior Che Bob came out hot from their last matchup against Colorado Mesa by putting up 18 points in 16 minutes in the first half. The Texas native also brought down six rebounds.
UNC responded with senior forward Andre Spight, who picked up 14 points in the half and put Rams’ Anthony Bonner on ice skates from a crossover and made the jumper. He finished the game with 25 points to lead the Bears.
The game stayed tight until the very end when CSU fought to hold on to a 79-77 lead. Spight stole the ball away from the Rams and took off down the court, but spun out control and lost the ball, forcing the bears to foul with 10.4 seconds left.
Redshirt junior J.D. Paige made both free throws, but Spight responded with a layup with 4.7 seconds left.
Junior Prentiss Nixon finished the job for the Rams by making the next two free throws after a UNC foul and then forced a turnover from Spight who dribbled the ball out of bounds at half court.
“What I liked was that we matched their determination, which is hard to do,” Eustachy said. “I was hoping it went overtime to be honest with you, just to play five more minutes.”
“I think we needed that,” Bob said on playing a tight game. “We play a tough non-conference schedule this year and our conference is no slouch so we’ll be facing games like that all year.”
Bob finished the game with 25 points to lead the Rams and redshirt sophomore Nico Carvacho forced his way inside for 16 rebounds and nine points. The Rams finished shooting 26-for-35 from the free throw line and 43.1 percent from the field.
Bob touched on how Eustachy wants to focus on defense and rebounding. CSU had only one more board than the Bears with a 39-38 advantage. The Rams also forced 11 turnovers while picking up six steals.
CSU will take the court next Friday Nov. 10 to officially open the season against Sacramento State. Tipoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
Collegian sports reporter Austin White can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @ajwrules44.