The Student News Site of Colorado State University

The Rocky Mountain Collegian

The Student News Site of Colorado State University

The Rocky Mountain Collegian

The Student News Site of Colorado State University

The Rocky Mountain Collegian

Print Edition
Letter to the editor submissions
Have a strong opinion about something happening on campus or in Fort Collins? Want to respond to an article written on The Collegian? Write a Letter to the Editor by following the guidelines here.
Follow Us on Twitter
African American female student studying from home during lockdown
Pediatric NP Online Programs: Alleviating Gaps in Colorado's Healthcare System
April 10, 2024

In Colorado's intricate healthcare sector, the provision of specialized care to its pediatric population remains a challenge. Pediatric Nurse...

Utah State uses furious rally to beat CSU 73-69 in first round of MWC tournament

DSC_1349LAS VEGAS, Nev. – What looked like the beginnings of a Cinderella story for the Colorado State men’s basketball team quickly became a Sin City nightmare Wednesday afternoon at the Thomas and Mack Center.

With a 10-point lead and just over two minutes to play, it looked as though the Rams would steal an upset of eighth-seeded Utah State in the first round of the Mountain West Conference tournament.


What ensued was one of the most improbable and utterly heart-breaking collapses in Colorado State basketball history.

Leading 64-54 with 2:19 to play, what looked like done deal was anything but as the Aggies used a furious 19-5 rally to stun the Rams 73-69 and move on to a quarterfinal matchup with No. 7 San Diego State on Thursday.

“I’m not even sure (what happened down the stretch),” junior guard Jon Octeus said. “They capitalized on a lot of our mistakes. (They) knocked down free throws, we didn’t. (They) took care of the ball, we didn’t. The last two minutes of the game we just forgot to show up.”

Despite a combined 6-28 shooting effort from All-Mountain West players Daniel Bejarano and JJ Avila, CSU had multiple chances to put away the Aggies. What started with a 3-pointer by USU guard TeNale Roland with 2:12 to play quickly escalated after consecutive 3-pointers by Jalen Moore and Spencer Butterfield and a technical foul Bejarano. After leading for the previous 18 minutes, the Rams (16-16) found themselves in an all-too-familiar situation on the wrong end of the scoreboard against the Aggies.

Still, the Rams trailed by just one with 19 seconds to play before Utah State closed out the game at the free throw line, hitting all six of their attempts.

Following the game Utah State head coach Stew Morrill was in absolute disbelief of what had just happened.

“I’ve been coaching a long time and I’ve never been a part of something like that,” Morrill said. “That was wild.”

Early on, it looked as though CSU would be run out of the Thomas and Mack Center, trailing 14-5 less than five minutes into the game. But behind 13 of Dwight Smith’s game-high 21 points, the Rams battled back to tie it at 31 heading into halftime.

From there, CSU controlled the second half, leading from the 19:17 mark until Butterfield’s free throws following Bejarano’s technical with 40 seconds to go gave the Aggies a one-point lead. After jawing with Aggie center Jarred Shaw, Bejarano began taunting Roland and was called for an unsportsmanlike technical by head official Randy McCall.


“Following a made basket by Utah State, player number 2 (Bejarano) from Colorado State began taunting Aggie players #5 (Shaw),” McCall said in a statement following the game. “When number 5 turned around to walk away, number 2 from CSU began taunting another Utah State athlete. CSU player number 2 was assessed a Class A unsporting technical foul based on Rule 10, Section 3, Article 1B.”

After the game, Dwight Smith couldn’t hide his disappointment despite his career performance.

“I just wanted to win this game, (my stats) don’t even matter at this point,” Smith said before laying his head onto his arms in disbelief.

For a team decimated by injuries and a lack of scholarships due to NCAA transfer rules, a win Wednesday afternoon would’ve been sweet revenge after losing twice to the Aggies earlier this year. What started as a story of possible redemption quickly devolved into a thriller worthy of a Hollywood script.

Unfortunately, there was no happy ending for the Rams in this one.

Still, CSU head coach Larry Eustachy praised the effort of his team after one of the more heart-breaking losses in his more than 20 years of coaching.

“These guys played their hearts out,” Eustachy said. “That was just one of the most unusual, uncanny chain of events I’ve been a part of in 20-some-odd years as a head coach. But these guys have nothing to be ashamed of, they played their hearts out and I’ve never been prouder of a group of guys.”

Next Up: The Rams will await a possible bid to either the College Basketball Insider (CBI) or postseason tournaments. Stay tuned to the Collegian for news regarding a possible fourth-consecutive postseason appearance for the CSU men’s basketball team.

Collegian Reporter Keegan Pope can be reached at and on Twitter @kpopecollegian. 

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

When commenting on The Collegian’s website, please be respectful of others and their viewpoints. The Collegian reviews all comments and reserves the right to reject comments from the website. Comments including any of the following will not be accepted. 1. No language attacking a protected group, including slurs or other profane language directed at a person’s race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, social class, age, physical or mental disability, ethnicity or nationality. 2. No factually inaccurate information, including misleading statements or incorrect data. 3. No abusive language or harassment of Collegian writers, editors or other commenters. 4. No threatening language that includes but is not limited to language inciting violence against an individual or group of people. 5. No links.
All The Rocky Mountain Collegian Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *