Rams falter at home alongside record-breaking game from Carvacho

Luke Zahlmann

On November 13th, 2016, Nico Carvacho played his first minutes in a meaningful contest for Colorado State.

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Against San Diego State Tuesday night, with only four players remaining from Carvacho’s first-year roster, the big man broke the program’s all-time rebounding record, passing Pat Durham in 33 fewer contests.

The milestone came in a 71-60 loss, but as a summation of the work Carvacho has put in, the accolade wasn’t all for naught.

“(The record) means a lot to me,” Carvacho said. “Especially (doing) it in such a short time compared to everyone else. I wish I could have some more (wins) with it but you know, all the work that I put in… I’m really proud of myself.”

Along with his breaching of the all-time rebounding mark, Carvacho tied Durham for third place on the single-season defensive rebounds list for the program (219).

A bounty of honors for Carvacho was part of a 20-point, 12-rebound effort to lead the team in both areas. The double-double was the 17th of the year for Carvacho, furthering his career program record (30) and moving to a tie for 6th in Mountain West history.  

The centers’ efforts played the role of masking another slow start.

For the third-consecutive contest, CSU trailed for the entire first half. Their low-scoring ways also continued as the Rams scored only 26 in the opening half against the Aztecs. The mark in the game’s first stanza was tied for the third-worst in any first half this year for the team.

“We really struggled offensively tonight,” Niko Medved said. “I just thought we shot ourselves in the foot a lot. We had a lot of opportunities in transition where we had an advantage (and just made) silly (mistakes).”

Five missed layups plagued the Rams’ scoring attack, with a pair failing to yield points due to Aztec chase down blocks.

Woes on the offensive end diluted a solid defensive effort from Medved’s squad into merely means for hanging on. The eight turnovers created by the Rams defense resulted in a lone bucket compared to seven points for the Aztecs on their eight forced turnovers.

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You look at the numbers, we’ve been a really good offensive team this year. We’ve really struggled on defense… I like what we do offensively.Niko Medved

Even in their comeback efforts in the latter half, the Rams were scourged by a Jalen McDaniels fury.

With a bevy of NBA scouts in attendance, McDaniels’ five-point first half gave way to a 13-point effort in the second half. In an eight-minute span to begin the concluding period, he scored 11 of his 18 points. Outside of his key run, the Rams held McDaniels in check.

“We were being real physical with him,” Adam Thistlewood said. “(We tried) to eliminate his post touches, he’s great from 15-17 feet… I thought we did a decent job overall.”  

In his previous 12 games prior to the Aztecs’ meeting in Fort Collins, the sophomore had averaged 20 points, aiding his team-high 17.1 point average for the year.

With 10:39 left in the game, trailing by five, the momentum was poised to swing in the Rams favor. After an Anthony Masinton-Bonner steal off of an Aztecs’ screen, both Bonner and Hyron Edwards charged down the court. Bonner flipped it up to Edwards, a game-changing alley-oop set to commence.

Instead, the dunk rattled off the back of the rim, rebounded by the Aztecs with a subsequent Rams’ foul to boot. What could have been the start to a score reversal, the dunk instead proved to be a summation of the evening, helping to continue an Aztecs’ 12-1 scoring run. The run eventually reached 17-1 before the hosts bucked the trend.

“You need to get two points there,” Medved said. “I think that Hyron is gonna make that play 90-whatever percent of the time… I’m not gonna tell our guys to start being tentative… that was a play we left out there. It was (just) one of those games.”  

Outside of Carvacho’s record-breaking effort, the Rams shot a combined 15-of-43 from the field, with J.D. Paige leading the backcourt with 14 on a 6-of-13 mark.

Guard, J.D. Paige drives up the court while analyzing the Aztecs defense. (Joshua Contreras | Collegian)

McDaniels’ efforts notwithstanding, the Aztecs were led by a game-high 21 points from Devin Watson. Of his game-high tally, 13 came in the second half with a trio of 3-pointers adding to his total of five in the game, also a high for both teams.

Though their offense has hit barren stretches, it’s hardly the main focus of Medved’s qualms.

“You look at the numbers, we’ve been a really good offensive team this year,” Medved said. “We’ve really struggled on defense… I like what we do offensively.”  

A trip to the west coast for a bout with last-place San Jose State Feb. 20th is the next opportunity for the team to end their losing streak. The game is set to tip-off at 8 p.m. on the MW Network.

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