Rams win thriller to sweep Border War

Eddie Herz

Highlights provided by CTV Sports

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For the second consecutive game, Colorado State delivered in the final seconds to earn a victory as CSU fans stormed the court.

Only three days after Emmanuel Omogbo hit a 3-pointer to beat San Diego State, the Rams once again pulled some late-game magic.

Sophomore Prentiss Nixon hit a game-winning three with five seconds remaining to beat Wyoming 78-76 on senior night in front of 7,883 fans at Moby — the largest crowd of the season.

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Photos by Elliott Jerge | Collegian 

“I made the shot for these two dudes (Emmanuel Omogbo and Gian Clavell),” Nixon said. “We’ve worked hard all season. Gian fouled out and someone had to take the shot and the ball came to me with 12 seconds left on the clock. I just jumped up and stuck it.”

The shot came after Wyoming’s leading scorer, Justin James, hit a 3-pointer to give the Cowboys a one-point edge with 10 seconds left.

“There really is something about this team that is special, more special than any team I’ve ever had,” head coach Larry Eustachy said. “They just find a way to win. It took a couple great plays by both teams to make it such an exciting game. There is something about this group, they may be destined. Through everything we’ve been through, all the negativity, all the ups and downs, it never broke us. It never even bent us.”

The regular season sweep over Wyoming marks the first time since 2013 that CSU has won on both sides of the border. The last time the Rams swept the Border War they were a single-digit loss team competing for a Mountain West crown.

Similarly, the win over the Cowboys gives the Rams a half-game lead over Nevada for first place in the Mountain West. CSU is now 21-9 overall and 13-4 in Mountain West play.

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“I thought that was another great game,” head coach Larry Eustachy said. “I’d like to say we didn’t play well, but we did. Give Wyoming all the credit, I’m not sure we should have won that game. They played extremely well and we knew that no lead was insurmountable for them.”

CSU began the game on a 14-2 run, making five of their first seven attempts from the floor. Colorado State continued to roll in the early stages of the game and led by as many as 16 with 10:41 remaining in the first half.

Aside from their efficient 62.5 percent clip from the floor in the first half, the Rams also took care of the ball. CSU turned the ball over four times in the opening 20 minutes, and did not commit a foul within the first 12 minutes of the first half.

The Rams coasted for the majority of the first half, looking poised for an easy victory to close out the season at Moby. However, Wyoming stormed back.

The Cowboys went on an 13-1 run over a 4:29 span to take a 68-67 lead with 5:19 remaining in the second half. The dunk by Alan Herndon to complete Wyoming’s run gave the Cowboys their first lead of the game.

“In the second half we kind of picked it up defensively, there is no way they should have came all the way back,” Omogbo said. “But we give them a lot of credit, they’re a pretty good team. In the conference tournament they’re going to be really dangerous.”

With 1:01 remaining and the Rams clinging to a one-point lead, CSU leading scorer Gian Clavell fouled out for the first time this season. Clavell finished with 17 points on 6-of-17 shooting from the floor.

“I fouled out and let my emotions just go,” Clavell said. “I just wanted to win the game so bad but that’s why we have a team. We are a team together and we have each other’s backs no matter what.”

Prentiss Nixon finished with a team-leading 23 points. Nixon was particularly hot in the first half, scoring 18 points and converting 8-of-10 attempts from the floor.

Emmanuel Omogbo notched his 18th double-double of the season with a 13 point and 12 rebound performance. The double-double was also his 13th in conference play, setting the single-season Mountain West record. Redshirt freshman Nico Carvacho scored 10 points and collected 10 rebounds to earn his second career double-double.

The Cowboys made 12 threes in the contest. Hayden Dalton led the way by making five and scoring 17 points total.

CSU will play for the MW regular season championship on the road in their season finale against Nevada on Saturday. The Nevada game will tip-off at 6 p.m. MT on Saturday and can be seen on ESPN3.

“It would be exciting to bring the first conference title in 27 years,” Omogbo said. “It would be pretty good, but then again we are just going in there and playing our game. We aren’t worried about anything else.”

Collegian sports reporter Eddie Herz can be reached by email at sports@collegian.com or on Twitter @Eddie_Herz