CSU men’s hoops out-toughs Fresno State in 80-57 home win

Video highlights by Travis Green of CTV11 Sports.

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The game was never in question as Colorado State men’s basketball (19-3, 6-3 MW) bullied its way to a 80-57 win over Fresno State (10-12, 5-4 MW).

CSU's Dantiel Daniels throws down a big dunk during the second half of the Rams' win against the Fresno Bulldogs in Moby Arena Saturday night. The Rams won 80-57 putting them at 6-3 for conference play. (Photo by Austin Simpson)
CSU’s Dantiel Daniels throws down a big dunk during the second half of the Rams’ win against the Fresno Bulldogs in Moby Arena Saturday night. The Rams won 80-57 putting them at 6-3 in conference play. (Photo by Austin Simpson)

The Rams bounced back in impressive fashion after letting one get away at Boise State earlier in the week. J.J. Avila led the way with 17 points, nine rebounds and five assists to help CSU remain near the top of the Mountain West with a much-needed win.

“We had pretty hard practices when we got back from Boise, and that is what we really worked on is making those hustle plays and out-determining teams,” Avila said.

Despite a sloppy start from both squads, CSU assumed control by jumping out to a 9-2 lead before Cezar Guerrero checked in and quickly drained two 3-pointers for the Bulldogs. Stanton Kidd responded with a three of his own to put the Rams up 18-11 with 11:16 before CSU went cold, missing their next seven field goals. Kidd finished with 13 points, six rebounds and five assists.

The Rams made up for their shooting slump though by getting to the line and shooting 12 free throws in the first half compared to Fresno State’s four. A wild and-one by John Gillon sparked an 8-0 CSU run late in the opening frame.

CSU went into the break leading 35-22. The Rams pulled down eight offensive boards in the first half leading to 14 second-chance points. The Bulldogs shot an abysmal 27.6 percent from the field in the first 20 minutes.

The second half saw more of the same as the Rams opened on an 8-2 run and began to pull away behind their strong effort on the glass. Daniel Bejarano recorded his 600th career rebound as a Ram, and Tiel Daniels pulled down 10 boards. CSU out-rebounded Fresno State 49-29, and finished with 15 offensive rebounds.

“Second half last game we did not come out with the same fire that we did in this game,” Daniels said. “I think it was just us concentrating. Like they said, we got a good couple of days of practice before this so coach was really focusing on coming out in that second half strong.”

CSU head coach Larry Eustachy said afterwards that he emphasizes rebounding probably more than any team in the country. He credited Daniels for his team’s dominance on the glass against the Bulldogs.

“When the ball is in his area, he is going to get it,” Eustachy said of the junior forward.

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Photos by Austin Simpson

CSU reached the 80-point mark for the seventh time this season. The Rams had assists on 21 of their 31 made field goals. Four players scored in double figures for CSU, including reserves John Gillon (12) and Gian Clavell (11).

Marvelle Harris and Cezar Guerrero led the Bulldogs in scoring with 16 points each. Fresno State’s Paul Watson, who had scored 19 points in back-to-back games prior to CSU, was held to five points on 1-for-9 shooting.

“I’m kind of surprised at the score,” Eustachy said. “They are a really well-coached team and a very talented team. They missed some shots they will make in Fresno for sure. But there were parts of that game where we played our best defensive basketball for long periods of time.”

CSU is on the road against Wyoming in their next game. The two rivals square off Wednesday at 7 p.m. in a pivotal conference matchup.

Collegian Sports Reporter Emmett McCarthy can be reached by email at sports@collegian.com and on Twitter @emccarthy22.