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Men’s basketball wins thriller 72-68 over South Dakota State

After tough back-to-back losses at the hands of conference opponents San Diego State and Boise State, the Colorado State men’s basketball team returned to Moby Arena on Tuesday and got back into non-conference play. The Rams secured a nail-biting victory over South Dakota State University in a matchup that was a battle until the end. The Rams won 72-68. 

It wasn’t the prettiest win for CSU, but they got the job done nonetheless. After the first half, the score was 31-30, and the Rams only maintained the lead due to a buzzer-beating Jackrabbits put-back layup being waived. 

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The Rams picked up their play in the second half. The first play of the second half was a momentum booster, as Nico Carvacho slammed in a thunderous alley-oop dunk off the feed by Isaiah Stevens. In the next few possessions, Kendle Moore was able to tally in some free throws, Kris Martin knocked in a 3-pointer and CSU looked more active defensively, even forcing a shot clock violation, all of which led to a nice little CSU run.

The game was still back and forth, as there were 15 lead changes throughout the game. CSU was down late in the second half until Adam Thistlewood hit an incredible 3-pointer from way past the line to give the Rams a two-point lead with just over 15 seconds left in the game. The Rams were able to then force a defensive stop, and Thistlewood grabbed the tough rebound, which led to an easy transition dunk from Martin for the dagger. 

It was a close game and a very exciting win for CSU, with both positive and negative takeaways. There are still a lot of things that CSU will need to work on that were highlighted in this game. CSU had 11 turnovers, which led to 11 Jackrabbit points. The two-point defense was also a little underwhelming for CSU.

“To our guy’s credit, they didn’t fold, and we stuck with it,” coach Niko Medved said. “And we made some plays down the stretch, and we absolutely had to have them, and sometimes you find a way to win when you don’t have your best.”

The freshmen group is a big part of the team this year, and they all looked great against South Dakota State. John Tonje provided an early spark off the bench, hitting two quick 3-pointers when he entered the game.

David Roddy, as he has been often this season, was also a momentum changer off the bench. He finished a tough layup in traffic and had another and-one finish en route to seven points and four rebounds.

Dischon Thomas had a career day. Thomas had eight straight points, including two beautiful mid-range jumpers to keep the Rams in the game.

“(The freshmen) are confident when they come in,” Thistlewood said. “They just give us a burst of energy that we need to keep going.”

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Carvacho had another double-double in the match. The senior had 12 points and 12 rebounds and has shown brilliant footwork in recent performances.

The CSU victory pads the Rams above a .500 record at 7-5. The Rams stay at home in what could be one of the biggest matchups of the year on Friday, facing off against in-state rival University of Colorado Boulder. Hopefully the late-game thriller can serve as inspiration in the rivalry game against the Buffs.

Bailey Bassett can be reached at sports@collegian.com or on Twitter @baileybassett_

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