CSU men’s basketball erases 15-point deficit in first road win of the season

Colin Barnard

Prentiss Nixon goes up for the game-winning shot against Long Beach State on Dec. 23. (Tony Villalobos May | Collegian)

The Colorado State men’s basketball team mounted a second-half comeback to defeat San Jose State 59-52 and earn its first road victory of the 2017 season Saturday evening. CSU (8-7, 1-1 MW) is now 16-0 all-time against SJSU (3-10, 0-2 MW).

Neither team found its grove offensively in the early going before Noah Baumann sparked a Spartans’ run on offense. The freshman guard connected on three 3-point attempts en route to an 11-point first half.

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Despite finding themselves with open looks both down low and from beyond the arc, CSU endured a nine-plus minute stretch without a field goal to end the half. Five free throws from Che Bob, Prentiss Nixon and Nico Carvacho were all the Rams could muster offensively in the final 9:37 of the half.

J.D. Paige found himself in early foul trouble, limiting the guard to 10 minutes of action in the opening stanza. In total, the Rams shot just 22 percent in the first half, including nine percent from 3-point range, and were out-rebounded 21-14.

Regardless of the offensive inefficiency, CSU’s staunch defense kept the Rams within striking distance as they entered the half trailing by 11 points.

Still trailing by 11 with 10:39 to play in the game, the Rams finally turned the corner on offense.

Leading up to that point, CSU converted a lowly 2-of-16 attempts from beyond the arc. After 3-pointers from Paige, Lorenzo Jenkins and Nixon and four forced turnovers, the Rams trailed by just four points with under eight minutes to play.

Jenkins and Nixon converted on two more attempts from deep to bring the Rams to a 48-48 tie with 6:18 remaining. On the next possession, Robbie Berwick made his way to the free throw line where he converted both attempts to give the Rams their first lead of the contest, one they held for the remainder of the ballgame.

After the atrocious start from 3-point range, CSU made six of its final seven attempts from beyond the arc to complete the comeback.

Even when they failed to knock down open shots for the majority of the first 30 minutes of action, the Rams’ defense locked down the Spartans’ attack. CSU forced 23 turnovers from SJSU and outscored the Spartans 26-2 on points from turnovers.

The Rams also capitalized on their foul opportunities, converting 13-of-17 free throws while ceding just seven foul shots to SJSU.

Prentiss Nixon once again led the way offensively for the Rams with 19 points on 6-of-16 shooting. Nico Carvacho joined him in double figures with 10 points and added six rebounds and three steals.

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Ryan Welage, SJSU’s leading scorer on the year, scored 16 points while shooting 7-of-13 from the field. Baumann finished with 14 points, a new career high.

The Rams now return to the friendly confines of Moby Arena where they have yet to lose this season to host San Diego State. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 2.

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