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Rams fall to Missouri State as late comeback falls short

Coach Eustachy looks to offical
CSU head coach Larry Eustachy questions a call made by an official during the Rams’ 72-61 win over Sacramento State on Nov. 10, 2017. (Jack Starkebaum | Collegian)

Colorado State’s late comeback attempt against Missouri State came up just short as the Rams ultimately fell to the Bears 77-67 in the Mountain West-Missouri Valley Challenge.

Missouri State built a 20-point lead with 7:53 remaining and the game seemed all but over. However, largely in part to some crucial baskets by Che Bob and Deion James, CSU went on a 24-8 run to trim the deficit to only four points with 45 seconds remaining.

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Unfortunately for the Rams, they didn’t have enough time to get over the hump.

CSU was able to shut down Missouri State’s leading scorer, Alize Johnson. Johnson was held scoreless on 0-of-7 shooting from the floor. The senior forward averaged 14.7 points through seven games this season before playing the Rams. Johnson also only collected four rebounds, well below his average of 10.7 per game.

The Rams out-rebounded the Bears, who were the 12th-best rebounding team in the NCAA going into this game, 41-36. Before tonight, Missouri State out-rebounded its opponents in every game this season.

While the Rams were able to shut down Johnson and hold a rebounding advantage, they were limited by offensive inefficiency. CSU shot 35.9 percent from the floor and missed 16 of its first 17 3-point attempts.

The Rams were essentially working from behind from the very start, as Missouri State opened the game on a 20-8 run over the first 10 minutes. CSU opened the second half on a 7-0 run to cut the Bears’ lead to 42-33. But, the Rams once again went cold from there and Missouri State began to run away with the game.

Though the Rams stormed back late, CSU’s offensive inconsistency that allowed Missouri State to build a large lead proved to be the difference.

Even though guard Prentiss Nixon had a forgettable night from beyond the arc, converting only 2-of-11 attempts, Nixon was effective otherwise. The guard finished with 20 points and six rebounds while shooting 7-of-19 from the floor.

Che Bob extended his double-double streak to four against Missouri State. Bob scored 13 points and collected 12 rebounds to tie the career-high he set in CSU’s last game. Deion James came up big late and tied his career-high in points with 14.

Missouri State junior guard Ryan Kreklow picked up the slack for his teammate Johnson. Kreklow scored 20 points for the first time in his collegiate career and converted 6-of-11 shots from the floor. Reggie Scurry also added 12 points for the Bears while forward Obediah Church scored 10.

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The Rams come back to Moby Arena to face the undefeated Colorado Buffaloes. CSU is looking to earn two straight victories over CU after defeating the Buffaloes in Boulder last season 72-58.

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

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