Since cracking into the top-25 polls for the first time in 59 years, the CSU basketball team has lost three of its last six games while failing to contain opponents’ leading scorers.
On Saturday night, it was Boise State’s sophomore guard Derrick Marks who scored a game-high 38 points on the Rams in a 78-65 Boise State victory.
The performance marks the third time in the last five games the Rams have surrendered over 35 points to an opponents’ leading scorer.
“You just tip your hat to him, he hit some unbelievable shots and made some unbelievable plays, he’s a really good player,” senior forward Greg Smith said.
“Most players when they get it going, they’re very hard to stop and we’ve gotta figure it out before this year is over because we see other tough opponents.”
The Rams managed to contain Marks in the first half, holding him to five points on 2-for-5 shooting from the field as the Rams took a 36-34 lead into halftime.
But from the start of the second half, it was clear that Marks was going to take the game over.
Marks made all 11 shots he took in the second half while scoring 33 points, giving the Broncos to a 67-53 lead with 6:26 to play that the Rams could not overcome.
“We lost this game in the start of the second half,” CSU coach Larry Eustachy said Saturday night. “We didn’t take control of the game, we didn’t get it going. I’ll have to watch the film but I’m not sure if anybody could’ve stopped him tonight.”
CSU will have to find a way to stop scoring threats ahead of the conference tournament which starts one week from Wednesday.
The 3-3 stretch over the last 18 days has erased the Rams’ 2.5-game lead they previously held for second place in the Mountain West over UNLV.
While CSU has struggled in its last six conference games, the Rebels have rattled off four straight wins in the conference, including a 61-59 victory over CSU on Feb. 20.
If the Rams can win their final two games of the regular season, they will position themselves as the No. 2 seed in the MW Tournament, which would give them a game against Wyoming in the first round.
If CSU loses its final two games, the Rams could fall to the four seed in the tournament, pitting them against Boise State in the first round based on the current conference standings.
The last two games of the season for CSU is on the road against Wyoming Wednesday night and at home against Nevada Saturday night.
The Rams will have to focus on stopping Wyoming’s leading scorer, Leonard Washington, who averages 13.4 points per game and Nevada’s leading scorer, Malik Story, who averages 16.4 points per game in order to avoid a repeat of Saturday.
Assistant Sports Editor Andrew Schaller can be reached at email@example.com.