In the CSU men’s basketball home conference season opener, it turns out the Rams needed the offensive production of just three starters to outperform the entire Air Force team.
Wes Eikmeier, Colton Iverson and Pierce Hornung combined for 44 points Wednesday night as the Rams (14-3, 1-1) torched Air Force (9-6, 1-2) 79-40.
The offensive outburst from the Rams is largely attributed to CSU’s considerable size advantage in the post that the Rams exploited in part due to 6-foot-10 Iverson’s 15 points and 7 rebounds.
“He did a great job. He is so big,” Air Force coach Dave Pilipovich said. “So even when we doubled him we are not his size. He was able to throw out of the double team.”
For Iverson, the Rams’ leading scorer on the season, his ability to score in the paint came because of how efficiently CSU’s offense ran throughout the game.
“I thought we did a good job getting the ball inside,” Iverson said. “We cut really well and moved the ball on offense and that was key.”
While CSU’s offense got rolling early on in the game, what the Rams took pride in the most after the game was their defense.
The Rams forced Air Force to commit 19 turnovers in the game and holding the Falcons to a shooting percentage of only 37 percent from the field and 19 percent from three-point range.
“For us to force 19 turnovers tells you that we played the game plan right,” CSU coach Larry Eustachy said. “We kept the guys who didn’t have the ball in front of us and tried to take away those back cuts and stuff and I thought it was an ‘A’ overall. It was great.”
On offense and defense, CSU dominated Air Force. The 39-point drubbing gave the Rams a team win in what is now the largest victory over a conference opponent at home in Moby Arena history.
The game on Wednesday came just five days after Air Force pushed No. 24 UNLV to the limit on the road in losing 76-71 in overtime in Las Vegas.
The victory for the Rams gives them an important Mountain West Conference win, and gives them momentum they will try to ride into Saturday night’s game against UNLV.
“We know we have a high ceiling,” Iverson said. “We set our expectations high and today was a good win but you can’t get too high and you can’t get too low and we have a tough game coming up this weekend.”
Assistant Sports Editor Andrew Schaller can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org