CSU disappointed in Mountain West upset vs. rival Wyoming

Bailey Bassett

Colorado State University men’s basketball has had a season that has been filled with hype, praise and optimism. Unfortunately, this season very well may end in devastation and heartbreak. The season isn’t guaranteed to be over, as there is a chance CSU can make it to the National Invitation Tournament, but in all likelihood, the season is done for the Rams. 

If it is over, this season will be remembered by all CSU fans. It was full of entertainment, thrill, frustration and happiness. This group of guys was super fun to be around because of their humility and good-heartedness. They were a young squad that exceeded expectations. Yet the 80-74 loss to Wyoming will still hurt.

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“It’s difficult right now to reflect when the emotions are what they are, and I haven’t had time to take a step back, but I know no matter what, when you take a deep breath, it has been a good year,” coach Niko Medved said. “I love this team. I love this group of guys. I love what they have done.”

Hyron Edwards goes for a rebound on Mar. 4. Although a close game at times, the Rams lost to the Cowboys 80-74. (Ryan Schmidt | The Collegian)

CSU was the No. 6 seed and the significant favorite against the last-seeded Cowboys, who only won two games in the conference. The Rams also beat Wyoming in both of their previous matchups. Rams fans, media, players and coaches alike had high expectations for them to make a run through the tournament, and that makes this loss hurt that much more. 

The Rams got off to a horrible start. They allowed Wyoming to shoot 5-6 from three early in the game, including three makes from deep by Jake Hendricks. Hendricks finished with four 3-pointers en route to a team 12-26 performance from deep.

The Rams were sloppy on defense and allowed open 3-point looks and clean back door cuts that led to easy layups. An early timeout by Medved was meant to change this, but Wyoming’s Greg Milton III knocked down another 3-pointer right after the break. 

“I think with the execution on defense sometimes we lost guys, and they made us pay,” Medved said. “Hendricks got hot early, and Kwane Marble (II) is a guy who has not shot the ball well from three, but he made some huge shots.”

The Rams started a mini comeback that was sparked by two separate and-one layups by Nico Carvacho in which he knocked in both free throws. John Tonje had a chance to further the momentum after being fouled on a 3-pointer but missed two of his three charity stripe attempts.

The team was plagued by early struggles, forcing Medved’s hand to put in Hyron Edwards early in the first half. Edwards has been the spark plug all season when CSU needs a boost of energy and defense. Edwards hit a couple of threes and wreaked havoc defensively, but it wasn’t enough, as CSU still trailed 44-39 at half.

Wyoming’s Hunter Maldonado has torched CSU all year long. In their two previous matchups, he dropped game-highs with 25 and 17 points. CSU’s game plan had to be stopping him, and that they did. In the first half, Maldonado only scored one point. He finished with a below-average 13 for his standards, but a possible overemphasis on game planning against him allowed others like Hendricks and Marble, who had 20 points, to thrive.

Niko Medved talks to the Colorado State Team during a time out on Mar. 4. Although a close game at times, the Rams lost to the Cowboys 80-74. (Ryan Schmidt | The Collegian)

CSU switched things up in the second half, and this included the implementation of a 1-3-1 zone. The lone bright spots for CSU in the first half were transition scoring and paint domination, specifically on the offensive glass with easy put-back buckets. CSU finished with 14 offensive rebounds to only two by Wyoming. The turnovers were killer though, as CSU had 16 while Wyoming only had seven. 

However, CSU made things interesting leading into the second half. Twice they cut the lead to only two points, but both of those times Wyoming rebutted with a 3-pointer. CSU fought hard, and this was illustrated by a possession in which they grabbed four offensive rebounds.

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Even with Wyoming repetitively missing free throws when CSU intentionally fouled and Adam Thistlewood nailing a clutch three that rimmed in, out and then in again, CSU was never able to overcome the deficit and finished the game without ever possessing the lead.

Carvacho ended with 20 points and 15 rebounds. If the season is in fact over, he will go down as one of the greatest players in program history. 

CSU remains hopeful they can secure a bid into the NIT, but if they don’t, this season was fun and is sure to be remembered by all members of the team.

 

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  • Hyron Edwards dribbles the ball on Mar. 4. Although a close game at times, the Rams lost to the Cowboys 80-74. (Ryan Schmidt | The Collegian)

  • Isaiah Stevens shoots on Mar. 4. Although a close game at times, the Rams lost to the Cowboys 80-74. (Ryan Schmidt | The Collegian)

  • Hyron Edwards dribbles the ball on Mar. 4. Although a close game at times, the Rams lost to the Cowboys 80-74. (Ryan Schmidt | The Collegian)

  • Kris Martin dribbles toward the basket on Mar. 4. Although a close game at times, the Rams lost to the Cowboys 80-74. (Ryan Schmidt | The Collegian)

  • Nico Carvacho goes to shoot the ball on Mar. 4. Although a close game at times, the Rams lost to the Cowboys 80-74. (Ryan Schmidt | The Collegian)

  • Hyron Edwards dribbles past the defense on Mar. 4. Although a close game at times, the Rams lost to the Cowboys 80-74. (Ryan Schmidt | The Collegian)

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