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Heartbreaking loss caps off remarkable men’s basketball season

David Roddy and Adam Thistlewood hug after Colorado State University defeats North Carolina State University .
David Roddy (21) and Adam Thistlewood (31) hug after Colorado State University defeats North Carolina State University in the National Invitation Tournament quarterfinal game in Frisco, Texas, at the Comerica Center March 25. Colorado State beat NC State 65-61. (Devin Cornelius | The Collegian)

With 0.3 seconds left on the clock in Colorado State’s final game of the season, Louisiana Tech University’s Kenneth Lofton Jr. made the go-ahead basket in the third-place game of the National Invitation Tournament. It would be the last heartbreaking loss of the year for the Rams. 

I know when we reflect, this was a heck of a season — we took a major step forward, ” –Niko Medved, men’s basketball head coach

This was undoubtedly one of the best performances this team has put up in the postseason this year, and despite leading for the majority of the game, CSU just could not close it out. 

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It certainly didn’t help that when the game was tied with under five minutes left, through no fault of his own, David Roddy had to take over a two-minute absence to receive medical attention after being on the wrong end of a flying elbow from Isaiah Crawford.

To Louisiana Tech’s credit, they put up an extremely comprehensive team performance. The Bulldogs had four starters put up double-digit points and outscored CSU 34-18 in the paint.

On CSU’s side of the ball, Isaiah Stevens had another big game across the stat sheet. The guard put up 18 points and seven assists — both were team highs. To end any year with a loss is tough, and it will certainly leave a sour taste in your mouth, but Niko Medved’s squad more than proved that the trajectory for this team is very high come next year.

“The season ain’t end the way that we wanted it to,” Stevens said in a post-game interview. “We had a great season overall, and there is a lot to be proud of, and we’ll learn from this, and we’ll grow from it as well.”

It’s hard to look to the future after a loss with such high emotional stakes. Playing through COVID-19 and the mental fortitude that is required by players that do so makes the completion of a season like this all the more impressive. 

“I know when we reflect, this was a heck of a season — we took a major step forward,” Medved said. “We were a few plays away from maybe playing in the NCAA tournament and winning a Mountain West championship.” 

This was CSU’s second year in a row with a 20-plus win season, despite playing five fewer games than last year. Normally, that type of consistency comes with a core group of veteran leaders, and while this team has leaders in spades, they are still quite young.

Kendle Moore, P.J. Byrd and Adam Thistlewood are the only juniors on this team, and Roddy and Stevens are just sophomores. Looking at this roster of returning players and considering the long-term effects of the NCAA’s allowance for an extra year of eligibility, the future is bright for this team.

Narrowly missing March Madness this year and making a run in the NIT firmly establishes this program’s shedding of the rebuilding label. Colorado State is a legitimate basketball team in the Mountain West and has the potential upside of a team that could embody mid-major madness on a national scale. 

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With youth, depth and now some experience playing into March, the only thing between CSU and an attempt at another dominant year is time.

“There’s a lot to learn; there’s a lot to be proud of, and I can’t wait to get to work here in the offseason and get back out there next year,” Medved said. 

Scott Nies can be reached at sports@collegian.com or on Twitter @scott_nies98.

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About the Contributor
Devin Cornelius
Devin Cornelius, Digital Managing Editor
Devin Cornelius is the digital managing editor for The Collegian. He is a fifth-year computer science major from Austin, Texas. He moved to Colorado State University and started working for The Collegian in 2017 as a photographer. His passion for photography began in high school, so finding a photography job in college was one of his top priorities. He primarily takes sports photos, volleyball being his favorite to shoot. Having been on The Collegian staff for 4 1/2 years, he's watched the paper evolve from a daily to a weekly paper, and being involved in this transition is interesting and exciting. Although Cornelius is a computer science major, his time at The Collegian has been the most fulfilling experience in his college career — he has loved every second. From working 12-hour days to taking photos in Las Vegas for the Mountain West Conference, he cannot think of a better place to work. Working as a photographer for The Collegian pushed him outside of his comfort zone, taking him places that he never expected and making him the photographer he is today. As the digital managing editor, Cornelius oversees the photos, graphics and social media of The Collegian along with other small tech things. Working on the editorial staff with Katrina Leibee and Serena Bettis has been super fun and extremely rewarding, and together they have been pushing The Collegian toward being an alt-weekly. Outside of The Collegian, he enjoys playing volleyball, rugby, tumbling and a variety of video games. When in Austin, you can find him out on the lake, wake surfing, wake boarding and tubing. You can expect that Cornelius and the rest of The Collegian staff will do their best to provide you with interesting and exciting content.

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