Rams end 2022 with 78-70 loss to San Jose State

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Collegian | Serena Bettis

Colorado State University guard John Tonje (2) makes a play against San Jose State University at Moby Arena Dec. 31, 2022. The Rams lost 78-70 after losing the lead in the second half.

Braidon Nourse, Sports Editor

While Colorado State University students have been enjoying a month-long break from their studies, the Rams men’s basketball team has been hard at work on the court. In the 20 days since their last game at Moby Arena, the Rams scraped out an impressive win at St. Mary’s College of California, but dropped their last two games against the University of Southern California and their conference-opener at The University of New Mexico.

The Rams have been no stranger to the highest of highs and the lowest of lows this season, and their recent road trip was no different. Then, with a chance to get back on track with their first conference win in their first home game in nearly three weeks, they couldn’t get it done over San Jose State University behind senior guard Isaiah Stevens24 points and 10 assists.

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Head coach Niko Medved was far from pleased with the 78-70 loss, the first of his CSU head coaching career against the Spartans.

“I don’t know why, but probably the biggest disappointment was our spirit at times,” Medved said. “I thought they made a run at the end of the first half, and for whatever reason, we came out in the second half and just thought we didn’t have a lot of juice.” 

After leading by as many as 14 in the first half, the Rams couldn’t hold on to close out the half and allowed the deficit to be cut to just three at the break, mostly thanks to accurate, streaky three point shooting from the Spartans. Going forward, the key to keeping big leads is simple.

“Keep doing what we do,” junior guard Isaiah Rivera said. “That’s the consistency part throughout a game. Forty minutes is a long time. You’ve just got to keep doing what you do over and over and over again.”

The barrage of threes only continued to start the second half, with SJSU hitting three of their first six attempts in the first nine minutes.

The Rams have been without arguably their best perimeter defender in Jalen Lake since their Dec. 11 outing against Peru State. Taviontae Jackson had also missed action since that game, but made his return against the Spartans.

Due to both of those absences, Medved has altered the starting lineup slightly, introducing a second forward in Patrick Cartier. He contributed 12 points of his own on the day. 

“There’s a lot of things I like about (the two forwards starting), but I think to be brutally honest, I think we just need to keep evaluating everything,” Medved said. 

The Rams haven’t lost their first two conference games since the 2019-20 season when they suffered straight losses to San Diego State University and Boise State University. Their next outing will be on the road against the University of Nevada, Reno Jan. 4, 2023.

“This is the team that also won at St. Mary’s two weeks ago,” Medved said. “When I say all this, I believe in this group, and I think we can be good. … I think we can compete with anyone in our league. But thinking it, we’ve got to be able to do it.”

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“2022 is over, 2023 is a new year. … There’s an opportunity for this group to learn from it and to grow, and if we can talk about it, we’ve got to be about it,” Medved said.

Reach Braidon Nourse at sports@collegian.com or on Twitter @BraidonNourse.