In honor of Black Friday, Colorado State men’s basketball held its own two-for-one deal by outscoring Northwestern State 40-20 in the paint in a 72-60 win at Moby Arena. The victory ends a three-game losing streak for the Rams, who returned home after losing their last three road contests.
Without junior guard Prentiss Nixon in the mix, who missed the game due to a concussion, sophomore guard Anthony Bonner started in his place. It was J.D. Paige that picked up the most of the slack though. The Denver native finished 6-of-9 from the field for a season-high 19 points.
“We just kept the game plan simple,” Paige said. “That’s just what we need just to score in the paint but when Prentiss (Nixon) comes back it’s going to be the same thing.”
The Rams (3-3) controlled the glass all night and started by owning a 21-12 advantage in total rebounds during the first half. CSU finished with 14 offensive boards and out-rebounded the Demons 41-30 in the contest.
The first half remained close despite the rebounding advantage due to the Rams inability to hold onto the ball. CSU turned the ball over ten times in the first half, leading to 15 points for the Demons. The Rams did their own damage on defense though by forcing 12 turnovers and totaling only three fouls in the first half.
Coming out of the break, the paint opened up even more for the Rams. CSU scored its first 23 points of the second half in the paint or at the free throw line.
Redshirt sophomore Raquan Mitchell inserted himself into the game in the second half by scoring ten points and making multiple highlight plays for CSU. The 6-foot-3 guard drove to the basket several times, often displaying his impressive vertical by going up and around the defenders.
“He’s named ‘Two-Three Quan’ for a reason,” Paige said. “Quan (Mitchell) brings energy every night, I think that’s one of the problems that we have. Sometimes we come out a little bit too flat sometimes, but we come out with energy we gonna be real tough to beat and we need to just have consistent energy for 40 minutes.”
“I had to get used to it but right now I’m very comfortable,” Mitchell added. “I just want to do whatever to win.”
Paige continued to work on offense in the second half as he finished as the Rams leading scorer with 19 points. Mitchell added 16 points off the bench and Che Bob also achieved his fourth straight double-double with 13 points and 12 rebounds.
After 11 straight days on the road, the Rams will get a much needed off day Saturday. Head coach Larry Eustachy spoke about how proud he was of his team fighting through all of the travel and game time to get the win Friday night.
“It doesn’t matter what the name of the team on the jersey is or (what) their record (is),” Eustachy said. “We had just lost three-straight and had a very difficult 11 days so this is a big game for us…this was an NBA road trip without the charter.”
The win for the Rams comes at a much needed time as they begin one of the toughest portions of their non-conference schedule. CSU will travel to Missouri State Tuesday, before hosting Colorado on Dec. 2. Tip off against the Bears is set for 6 p.m. MT and can be seen nationally on ESPN3.
Collegian sports reporter Austin White can be reached by email at email@example.com or on Twitter @ajwrules44