Depleted roster dooms CSU on the road against New Mexico

Eddie Herz

Having a depleted roster while attempting to gain ground toward the end of the season is at the top of the “things to avoid in March” list.

Though not ideal, running into injury issues late and enduring the negative consequences of such are often inescapable. Colorado State learned that the hard way on Saturday night as part of a detrimental 77-65 defeat in New Mexico.

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A victory over the Lobos would have improved the Rams to an even 8-8 in the Mountain West play, in turn tightening the gap between CSU and fifth-place University of Nevada, Las Vegas, to half of a game. Instead of putting forth an inspired performance, the negative consequences associated with a diminished lineup plagued the Rams all game long.

With minimal depth to turn to as a result of injuries to Hyron Edwards and Anthony Masinton-Bonner, individual performances meant substantially more against The University of New Mexico. 

“First of all, we don’t make excuses that way,” Head Coach Niko Medved said. “It is what it is, other guys have to step up. This one was pretty easy to digest. They played with more energy than we did.”

Per usual, redshirt junior center Nico Carvacho was leaned on heavily. The center was responsible for most of CSU’s production as he contributed 22 points and 13 rebounds for his 20th double-double of the season. Although foul trouble inhibited the green and gold from finding a rhythm on Saturday night.

Four different Rams accounted for at least four fouls against the Lobos, three of which were starters (Carvacho, Kendle Moore and Adam Thistlewood).

In addition to capitalizing on CSU’s foul trouble, the Lobos controlled the glass with authority. For a team that rarely produces positive results when out-rebounded, it is extremely difficult for the Rams to keep a game close when losing the rebounding margin 47-25.

“Rebounding was the story,” Medved said. “They just absolutely destroyed us on the glass. I thought they got every 50-50 ball. There were a lot of balls that were loose on the floor and we just couldn’t up with it … our guys kept battling because that is what they do. But clearly this game was lost on the glass.”

Fittingly, Colorado State struggled to stay within striking distance at the Pit. UNM started the contest on a 7-2 run and never broke stride from there. The Rams trailed for the entire game and witnessed a manageable eight-point halftime deficit extend in the final 20 minutes of action.

Though CSU trimmed its disadvantage to single digits in the final few minutes, the run was too-little, too-late for Medved’s group. An 11-1 UNM run to lengthen its advantage to 62-43 proved to be the finishing blow.

Colorado State fell to 12-17 overall with the defeat and will face a formidable opponent in Utah State next Tuesday when it attempts to bounce back. The Aggies upset No. 12 Nevada on Saturday at home, moving USU into first place in the Mountain West.

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“If you want to have success right now you have to play with an incredible edge, and you have to do all the little things the right way,” Medved said. “Clearly we didn’t do that here tonight, and hopefully we can regroup here. We have to come out and play with a ton of energy. Whether we are thin or not, that is just the way it is. Guys have to come out and play, and I think we will. I think we’ll respond and play better on Tuesday.”

Eddie Herz can be reached at sports@collegian.com or on Twitter @Eddie_Herz.