Rams lose in New Mexico despite big night from big men

Austin White

With both starting guards for the Colorado State Rams out with injuries, ball possession came at a premium in the Rams’ 80-65 loss at the New Mexico Lobos Saturday night. CSU finished with 23 turnovers and lost despite shooting 53.1 percent from the field.

Junior guard Prentiss Nixon missed his third straight game with an ankle injury while fellow junior guard J.D. Paige is out for the next 3-4 weeks with a broken hand.

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Junior forward Deion James drives to the hoop but gets called for a charge during the first half of play against the UNLV Rebels on Jan. 20 at Moby Arena. (Elliott Jerge | Collegian)

The loss did not come without the big men of CSU having good nights since Deion James and Nico Carvacho led the team in points with 17 and 14, respectively. Carvacho also carved out a double-double with his 15 rebounds.

Early on the Lobos did what most teams this year have had success with against the Rams and that is shooting, especially from beyond the arc. New Mexico hit eight 3-pointers in the first half and shot 55.2 percent from the field as they went into the break up 44-32.

Guard Raquan Mitchell kept the Rams within 12 by putting up all eight of his points in the first half behind a couple of 3s. Redshirt sophomore Lorenzo Jenkins played extended minutes due to the injuries to starting guards Nixon and Paige. Jenkins also nailed two 3-pointers in the first half to give him the six points he finished the night with.

Overall the Rams went 4-for-6 from 3-point range in the first half, but the second half did not bring the same results. CSU attempted only four more deep balls and made only one.

A majority of the work went down low to the big men, but the Rams discovered that a 12-point comeback is hard to accomplish by only making deuces.

New Mexico struggled more from the arc in the second half by shooting only 31.3 percent from deep. However, their hot hand from up closer continued while they also knocked down seven of their nine free throw attempts in the second half.

Still the Rams hung around and after a layup by James, CSU pulled within at 53-48 with just over nine minutes left in the game. But a charging call on James on the Rams next possession capped the sloppy night CSU had.

Ultimately the Rams finished the game with 23 turnovers compared to the Lobos’ seven. New Mexico capitalized on the errors and kept themselves an arms distance away until they sealed the game for good by going on an 11-2 run after the James charging call. The Rams remained down 10 or more for the rest of the contest.

Scoring for the Lobos also came from multiple sources as three separate players finished tied for the team high in points with 13. Senior guard Antino Jackson finished right behind them with 12 of his own to go along with his 11 assists.

A fourth straight conference loss puts the Rams towards the bottom of the Mountain West Conference as they mow sit four and half games back of the first place No. 23 Nevada Wolfpack. With only eight games remaining, the season for the Rams looks bleak as a conference title run appears unlikely.

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Motivation will not be hard to come by in the Rams’ next matchup though as they will host the rival Wyoming Cowboys on Wednesday, Jan. 31. The Cowboys are coming off an overtime upset of Nevada and will look to avenge their loss at home to the Rams earlier in the season.

The win against Wyoming marks the last time the Rams added to the win column as they will try to end their skid. The highly anticipated “State Pride” jerseys will also be on display against the Cowboys. The game is set to tipoff at 7 p.m. MT.

Collegian sports reporter Austin White can be reached by email at sports@collegian.com or on Twitter @ajwrules44