Comeback effort falls short as Rams lose to Florida State in Jamaica

Colin Barnard

Following a 90-73 loss at the hands of Florida State Sunday afternoon, chances are the Colorado State basketball team is not fond of Jamaica.

After a lackluster performance against Tulane in Montego Bay on Friday, the loss to the Seminoles sends the Rams home winless on the island.

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Eustachy yelling
Head coach Larry Eustachy reacts towards a ref during the 2nd half of the Rams 80-76 win over Winthrop on Nov. 14 at Moby Arena. (Javon Harris | Collegian)

Despite the setback, CSU’s start against the Seminoles served as a stark contrast to Friday’s game against Tulane in which they trailed 20-2 midway through the first half.

The Rams gave up five early points before forcing three turnovers resulting in eight quick points. The back-and-forth affair continued for the first ten minutes of the game as both teams pushed the pace on both ends of the floor.

FSU held a one-point lead at the midway point of the first half before embarking on an 8-0 run. The Seminoles eventually took an 11-point lead into the break and seemed ready to pull away in the closing 20 minutes of the game.

Then, CSU’s run started.

Che Bob opened the half with a mid-range jumper before Prentiss Nixon connected on back-to-back 3-pointers to force the Seminoles into an early timeout. Following the timeout, Bob converted a difficult and-one to tie the game at 47. Two possessions later, Lorenzo Jenkins hit his fourth 3-pointer of the game to cap a 14-1 run to start the second half.  

“I was encouraged that we were fighting throughout the game, especially coming out and starting so strong in the second half,” head coach Larry Eustachy said in a statement. “We just have to eliminate the large amounts of turnovers and play with consistent intensity on both ends of the floor to make the improvements we need to during the season.”

Just like the first half, though, FSU regained its momentum. Inhibited by foul trouble from Nico Carvacho and Deion James, the Rams were unable to keep the Seminoles out of the paint. As has been the case already this season, foul trouble proved costly for Carvacho. After playing just six minutes in the first half due to two early fouls, he picked up his fourth with 13 minutes remaining.

Fellow big man Deion James joined Carvacho in foul trouble. His quick start offensively was limited by fouls, playing just 11 minutes in the first half and fouling out with seven minutes remaining.

The Seminoles consistently navigated through the Rams’ small lineup and into the lane for easy looks. At one point, they scored 17 points in a row from either free throws or easy layups.

Florida State freshman M.J. Walker led the Seminoles with 22 points. He did most of his damage from beyond the arc, converting 5-of-8 3-point attempts. Terrance Mann tacked on 20 points on an efficient 8-of-12 shooting.

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“Our issue in a lot of situations is our youth and being receptive to coaching,” Eustachy said. “We are having to adjust to being without Gian (Clavell) and Emmanuel (Omogbo) this year and guys are having to learn those roles, and sometimes that is a challenge.”

Nixon matched Walker, scoring 22 points while going 7-of-14 from the field. He added four rebounds and four assists in 34 minutes of action. Bob notched a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds. Jenkins provided a nice spark off the bench, finishing with 14 points and six rebounds, going 4-of-5 from 3-point range.

The Rams now return to the states for a road matchup against New Mexico State on Wednesday at 7 p.m. The Aggies are the third 2016 NCAA Tournament team that the Rams will face on the early season.

Collegian sports editor Colin Barnard can be reached by email at sports@collegian.com or on Twitter @ColinBarnard_.