Rams ousted by late run in annual showdown with University of Colorado

Luke Zahlmann

In the last two years, Colorado State has played the role of spoiler, overcoming the odds and upsetting the University of Colorado. This year, the underdogs fell prey to the 14-point favorites as the Rams succumbed to a late Buffs’ run, 86-80.

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The early moments of the game were headlined by a newcomer to the rivalry, transfer Kris Martin. After sitting last year due to NCAA rules, the redshirt junior responded to his first playing time in the Rocky Mountain Showdown on the hardwood.

Led by the play of Martin, the Rams built a lead in the first half, holding the edge for all but four minutes of the opening frame. Martin’s total aided the Rams’ shooting mark of 50 percent in the first half, besting the hosts’ mark of 33.3 percent.

“We all knew coming in that this would be J.D. (Paige’s) last game (against) CU,” Martin said. “Even though I haven’t played or know much about (the rivalry), that’s my brother so I’m going to go to war with him with the same emotions. I really wanted to win this game for him.”

Player holds up his shooting hand
J.D. Paige (22) holds up his shooting arm after knocking down a three. The Rams beat the Golden Lions 92-67. (Devin Cornelius | Collegian)

The largest difference in the half came from outside as the Rams topped the Buffs 45.5-21.4 in percentage from outside, a tally of five makes for the visitors to show for it. The efficiency came despite settling for contested looks as the shot clock wound down for Martin and fellow redshirt junior Anthony Masinton-Bonner.

As their high mark from outside faltered, so did the lead for the Rams. A three-point advantage at the half gave way to a Buffs’ team that began to exploit the interior defense of the visitors.

After giving up 44 points in the paint in their last matchup to Southern Illinois, the drives down low for the Buffs began to garner fruitful results in the second half. After 16 total points in the paint in the first 20 minutes, the Buffs accumulated 10 in just under five minutes out of the intermission, 48 in the game. 

Multiple successful runs down low began to shift the Buffs’ plan of attack as the hosts filled the lane with multiple players each halfcourt set.

“I thought they got really aggressive in the second half,” Coach Niko Medved said. “We didn’t do nearly a good enough job of getting back, guarding the ball. They hurt us on the glass and in the paint in the second half.” 

Taking advantage of the mismatch down low was Buffs’ forward Lucas Siewert. Coming into the game, the third-year big averaged 13.8 points per game in the teams’ first five contests. As the chants of ‘Loo’ reigned down from the crowd, Siewert bypassed his average with more than half of the final period remaining.

Siewert finished with season-high 16 points on a 63.6-percent mark from the field and 10 rebounds in his 31 minutes. Siewert was guarded by a combination of freshman Adam Thistlewood and redshirt junior Lorenzo Jenkins throughout the game, both inferior by multiple inches to the 6-foot-10 stretch forward of the Buffs.

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“We need to do a better job of getting down and in front of the post,” redshirt junior Nico Carvacho said. “(We need to) execute the gameplan of doubling when (we need to).” 

The run that decided the game for the Buffs came with the aforementioned Siewert yielding to sophomore guard McKinley Wright IV. A spree of 12-consecutive made field goals allowed the Buffs to pull away, providing aid to their countering of the Rams’ subsequent late run.

Wright, the leader of the run, registered seven of his 18 total points during the near 10-minute spree, all of which came inside the arc.

“We all knew coming in that this would be J.D. (Paige’s) last game (against) CU. Even though I haven’t played or know much about (the rivalry), that’s my brother so I’m gonna go to war with him with the same emotions. I really wanted to win this game for him.” Kris Martin, redshirt junior 

Alongside Wright was guard Tyler Bey who lead the Buffs with a game-high 23 points on 7-11 from the field and 10 rebounds, his first double-double of the year.

In the deciding second half, the Buffs shot 61.8 percent from the field, with only three shots made from outside. Countering the hosts’ hot streak, the Rams shot 53.1 percent from the field, with a 41.7-percent mark from beyond the 3-point line.

In the matchup, Martin led the Rams in scoring, finishing with 21 points. Carvacho tallied his fourth double-double through eight games as well for the visitors (15 points, 12 rebounds). 

The Rams will return to Moby Arena for their matchup against the University of Arkansas Wednesday, their lone matchup against an SEC opponent this year. The contest will air on CBS Sports Network, with tip-off at 8 p.m.

“We got a really tough one on Wednesday,” Medved said. “We just gotta come back, keep practicing well and get better, and good things will happen.”

Luke Zahlmann can be reached at sports@collegian.com or on Twitter @lukezahlmann.