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Rams men’s basketball loses semifinals heartbreaker to New Mexico

Colorado+State+University+forward+Joel+Scott+goes+for+a+layup+in+a+Mountain+West+mens+basketball+championship+semifinal+March+15.+CSU+lost+to+the+University+of+New+Mexico+74-61.
Collegian | Emma Askren
Colorado State University forward Joel Scott goes for a layup in a Mountain West men’s basketball championship semifinal March 15. CSU lost to the University of New Mexico 74-61.

LAS VEGAS – All good things have to come to an end.

For the Colorado State men’s basketball team, their good thing came to its end on Friday night when they faced off against New Mexico in the semi final round of the Mountain West Men’s Basketball Championship.

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After strong performances against No. 10 San Jose State and No. 2 Nevada, Colorado State made its first semifinals appearance since 2021. However, the confident team that was seen in the first two games was nowhere to be found as CSU fell 74-61 to New Mexico.

“Congratulations to New Mexico, give them credit,” coach Niko Medved said. “We knew they would be amped up, it’s a huge game for both teams, (there was) a lot on the line.”

The Lobos quickly set the tone of the game with an 11-0 run in the first minutes of the game. Colorado State appeared to be out of sorts, finally responding in the fifth minute of play with a 3-point shot.

A stunned Rams squad was finally able to lock in, tying the score up at 23-23 with seven minutes remaining in the half. Joel Scott led the team in scoring not just in the first half, but the entire game.

“I think that’s just high level basketball,” Isaiah Stevens said. “Two high level teams just trading runs and making plays on both ends.”

Scott scored 20 points the whole game, seeing the small holes in the formidable Lobos defense. Stevens followed Scott in scoring, with 13 points the whole game.

Despite Stevens and Scott leading in scoring, there were plenty of opportunities for the Rams to score. Pressure from the Lobos however created rushed offensive plays and missed shots which led to mental stress on players and when there were easy shots to make, it seemed Colorado State was unable to capitalize.

“That’s what they do, (New Mexico) speeds the game up, they execute on both ends at that pace,” Stevens said. “We were able to generate some good looks. Maybe a little rushed at times, we just (have) to settle in.”

The second half of the game was much of the same for the Rams. This time, Colorado State was unable to bring the score back to even, and trailed the entire second half by no less than six points. 

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What was disappointing for the Rams was that there were offensive and defensive opportunities to turn the story around. 

Colorado State led New Mexico in both field goal and 3-point attempts at 70 and 28 respectively, but were trailing in percentages made, only making 34.3% of their field goals and 21.4% of their 3-point shots. Compared to New Mexico who made 45.2% of their field goals and 38.5% of their 3-point shots.

On the defensive side of the ball, the Rams led the Lobos in rebounds with 44 rebounds for CSU and 39 for New Mexico. However, the Lobos completely blew Colorado State out of the water when it came to points from turnovers with six from CSU and 22 from New Mexico.

For Stevens, this game doesn’t tarnish an ideal legacy he hopes to leave at Colorado State.

“Hopefully one that contributes a lot of wins,” Stevens said. “Just being a good person, a good teammate, somebody that (fans) wanted to come out to moby and see on a nightly basis, somebody that they hope that their kids could try to model themselves after and be like.”

This isn’t the end for the Rams though, as Selection Sunday will decide their fate in the NCAA tournament. 

“Part of the fun of it is not knowing,” Medved said. “And having that on Selection Sunday, you have no idea: what your seed is going to be, where you’re going to go, who you’re going to play and that’s some of the beauty of it.”

Reach Emma Askren at sports@collegian.com or on Twitter @emma_askren.

Interested in more sports content? Sign up for Ram Report here for weekly CSU sports updates!

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About the Contributor
Emma Askren
Emma Askren, Sports Editor
Emma Askren, alongside Damon Cook, is the fall 2023 sports editor for The Collegian. She began working at The Collegian during her first year in the fall of 2022, when she covered the swim and dive team as well as anything sports-related. She is currently a sophomore at Colorado State University, where she is majoring in journalism and media communication and double minoring in Spanish and sports management. During her first year, she joined the rowing team, began working as a reporter for The Collegian and working at the Student Recreation Center. Askren applied to CSU as a journalism major, knowing she wanted to combine her passion for sports and writing to create a fulfilling career. Upon realizing that Rocky Mountain Student Media was hiring for first-years, she jumped at the opportunity to become a writer for The Collegian. While working for the sports desk, Askren has had the opportunity to write about hockey, logging, whitewater rafting and the importance of women in sports. As a woman in a male-dominated industry, she seeks to break the status quo and become a successful sports journalist following graduation. Following a year as a sports reporter, Askren became a co-editor for the sports desk alongside Cook. Together the duo seeks to create a new and improved sports desk that caters to all readers of The Collegian and beyond.

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