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CSU Rams Men’s Basketball Week 9 Recap: #13 Rams start conference play with a win against the New Mexico Lobos

Fort Collins, CO – Lockdown defense will be a key to victory for the Rams for the future.
Photo by: Reuel Indurkar (The Collegian)

The Rams clearly showed that tonight in a game that got well out of hand for the New Mexico Lobos in a 76-68 Rams victory in Moby Arena to bring the Rams to 1-0 in conference play and 13-1 overall.

Despite hitting the 4th week of missing an excellent perimeter defender and starter in Josiah Strong, the Rams held the Lobos to their second lowest scoring game at 68 points, and well below their season points per game of 85 points.

The game was not always within the Ram’s control, as the Lobos’ defense came out hot in the first 10 minutes. The Lobos went out as far as a 12-5 lead, as the Rams struggled with their full-court defense and aggressive man-to-man approach.

However, a combined effort from the starters to fight through the tough defense led to back-to-back threes to get the Rams tied at 17-17 with 9:47 to go. The Lobos defense returned to a more traditional style, and the rest of the half ensued with Patrick Cartier taking over with 10 points and taking over down low against tough bigs in Nelly Junior Joseph and JT Toppin.

Cartier finished with 21 points, a season-high for him, and helped get the Rams a spark through both halves as the leading scorer. When asked about Cartier’s big night, Isaiah Stevens elaborated, “It just makes us so much more versatile and dynamic when he’s aggressive, understanding that we are looking to play through him a lot in our offense.”

The Ram’s defense persisted through the game, as the Rams outrebounded the Lobos in both halves, 20-16 in the first and 18-12 in the second. This performance helped the Rams secure the win, as the Lobos typically average 41 rebounds a game and have the talented rebounders in Toppin and Joseph limited down under in their effects on this part of the game.

The Rams in their efforts dominated the boards grabbing 38, with strong efforts from Joel Scott with 7 and Nique Clifford with 10, all defensive rebounds.

Nique also had a double-double, putting up 12 points and being a force to be reckoned with on both ends, helping the Rams secure the win. Clifford’s big night elevated the Rams past the Lobos in a big way, as Coach Niko Medved evaluated his impact more, saying “He’s always been a great rebounder… he’s been our leading rebounder this year…Everybody looks at your bigs to rebound but sometimes it’s those perimeters going in and cleaning up rebounds and we needed all of it tonight.”

The Rams’ amazing two-way efforts on the court to get past the Lobos were just the start of their long conference season ahead, as they are 1-0 going into their next conference matchup against the Utah State Aggies in Logan, Utah on Saturday, January 6th at 7 pm.