Utah State outlasts CSU thanks to 2nd half shooting barrage


Collegian | Gregory James

Colorado State guard Jalen Lake lines up to defend against Wyoming guard Noah Reynolds (21) Jan 21. The Rams lost 58-57.

Braidon Nourse, Sports Editor

The shooting slump for Colorado State University’s men’s basketball team continues.

It wasn’t any help that the Rams were matched up against the nation’s No. 1 3-point shooting team in Utah State University, who shoots an impressive 41.5% as a team on average. After shooting 46.2 % against CSU, the Aggies pulled away to a 88-79 victory over the Rams.


Casey Abashian, Assistant Executive Producer

The Rams were without arguably their best perimeter defender in Jalen Lake due to a concussion he sustained Tuesday against the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. They were also without Taviontae Jackson, who was unable to participate due to illness. With only seven scholarship players available, head coach Niko Medved had to get creative.

Early on, the best shooting team in the country looked exactly like it, hitting four of their first five from beyond the arc on the way to jumping out to a 13-2 lead within the first three minutes. Out of the subsequent media timeout, the Rams threw a full court press on the Aggies, and switched from a man-to-man defense to a 2-3 zone defense.

“I thought our guys did a really good job of responding after we got down 13-2,” Medved said. “They came back, they fought, they had an opportunity to take the lead. To be honest, I thought it was probably a little unfortunate that we didn’t find a way to kind of stretch it out a little bit.”

The change in tactics proved to be successful, judging by the 16-point run CSU would go on to take a 18-13 lead. By the end of the half, the Rams held the Aggies to 33.3% from three and trailed by one point going into the break.

The second half proved to be less of a contest when Utah State showed up from behind the arc. Shooting 12 for 21 from three in the second half, capped by a run where they hit 7 of 9, the Aggies put the game to bed by trading threes for twos with the Rams later on. 

“They’re a really high IQ basketball team,” said senior guard Isaiah Stevens, who scored a team high 25 points. “They’re gonna try to figure some stuff out, and they did. They really shared (the ball) well, that’s a team that I wanna say is top of the Mountain West in that category. They really started to find a little bit of a rhythm, and we tried to mix it up a little bit on them, but sometimes when you get it going, it can be hard to stop.”

Though CSU is now on a five-game losing streak, today’s matchup meant much more than the game of basketball, and the wins and losses that come with it. On the backs of each of the Rams’ jerseys, the name of a local cancer survivor was printed in celebration of CSU’s annual Fight Like a Ram game.

“It’s such a special event,” Stevens said. “With all the cancer patients and especially, I’ve had some people close to me deal with their own cancer battles, so this game always hits a little bit more close to home for me. I just try to go out there and just represent the name on the back of the jersey as best as possible.

“For a lot of them, maybe they didn’t play college athletics, so to look out there and see their name out there competing, it’s special,” Stevens said. “I take it very personal.”


Redshirt junior James Moors, who scored 13 points of his own, echoed Stevens’ sentiment and said it “really makes you think about life.”

“We just play a basketball game,” Moors said. “To hear all the patients’ stories and what they’ve been through and get to share experiences with them, it’s a very unique situation that we’ve been blessed to be a part of. I’m very grateful for this opportunity to be able to play this game.”

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