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‘Fight Like A Ram’ game ends with victory in Moby Arena

Colorado+State+University+player+Joel+Scott+passes+the+ball+to+another+player+in+the+men%E2%80%99s+basketball+game+vs.+Utah+State+Feb+17.
Collegian | Julia Percy
Colorado State University player Joel Scott passes the ball to another player in the men’s basketball game against Utah State Feb. 17. CSU led the entire game, winning with a final score 75-55.

Editors Note: This post has been updated to better clarify the partnership between CSU and UCHealth for the Fight Like a Ram event.

Basketball is more than just a game.

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Colorado State rallied past Utah State Saturday 75-55 in their annual Fight Like a Ram tradition, in which CSU partners with UCHealth to support cancer warriors in the community.

The Rams honored the fight and perseverance those individuals give every day by putting their names on the back of the players’ jerseys during the game. 

Using the platform of basketball, this is one of the greatest traditions this team does, getting a chance to give back to the community and contribute to something much larger than themselves. 

“People are dealing with other challenges that are way bigger than the problems we have,” guard Nique Clifford said. “We’re just trying to win a basketball game. It’s really cool to be a part of something like that where you see people fighting real-life problems, and just the joy and hope that they still have on their face makes you want to smile and keep going.”

Playing with a chip on their shoulder after a frustrating loss to San Diego State, the Rams were fired up to be playing in front of the home crowd, playing for more than just themselves.

Two of the main takeaways from their loss were their inability to pull down rebounds and defend in transition. But Saturday produced a much different result with the Rams out-rebounding the Aggies 45-32 and being able to get back and defend much more quickly.

“It’s really cool to meet those cancer warriors and talk to them about their stories and hear what they’re going through and just get a chance to get to know them.” -Joel Scott, men’s basketball forward

“To be honest, we didn’t do anything different as far as emphasizing offensive rebounds,” coach Niko Medved said. “The emphasis was transition defense here. … That’s what they do: They rim run, they push it, they attack the lane, but I thought our hustle was great. We found ourselves making good decisions.”

Getting the ball rolling and playing physical basketball was completely necessary for the Rams in order to pull off a win, and forward Joel Scott did just that.

Scott’s ability to get physical and ignite the Rams offense doesn’t come as a surprise, as he has been doing it throughout the season. But because of his early exit due to foul trouble in his previous matchup, there was more fire than usual.

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“Tonight was a good game to try and get back into it,” Scott said. “We lost it in the second half in the SDSU game, but we asserted ourselves early, and doing that throughout the whole game really worked out well for us.”

This style of gameplay worked to the Rams’ favor, especially on the offensive side of the ball, posting 48 points in the paint.

It’s certainly not uncommon for this group to outscore their opponent, but it was impressive how the defense came out and held the high-caliber Utah State offense to way under their average points per game of 80.1.

“(Utah State) is a really good team,” Clifford said. “The main part of their game is pushing the break and getting early touches to Great Osobor, and Darius Brown leads that charge. I feel like we did a good job of getting back in transition, shutting that down and in the half court set guard for them.”

In spite of the paint masterpiece, the Rams couldn’t get anything going beyond the arc, shooting 17% from the three, which is abnormal considering how well they have been shooting at this stage of the season.

This shows how versatile this group can be, not just relying on one aspect of the game, rather utilizing their ability to work as a team, playing the basketball that has worked so well for them this season.

“What was interesting was we really had a poor perimeter shooting night,” Medved said. “They went to the zone defense. I don’t think we got really bad looks, but it was one of those nights that we get a perimeter shot to go down, but that’s life sometimes. Our guys stayed with it, they stayed poise and got a great win.”

Despite the pressure of the game at this stage of the season, the hearts and minds of the cancer warriors were more important than the outcome, and the Ram community did a tremendous job giving them the experience they all deserved.

For some of the Rams’ players, including Clifford and Scott, it was their first chance to be a part of the Fight Like a Ram game, and although pulling off the win was special, spending time with the cancer warriors meant so much more.

“It’s a really special opportunity and experience to be a part of,” Scott said. “It’s really cool to meet those cancer warriors and talk to them about their stories and hear what they’re going through and just get a chance to get to know them.”

Reach Luke Hojnowski at sports@collegian.com or on Twitter @lukehojo.

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