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Ram’s fall to Nevada After Improbable Game Winner

A second half comeback from Colorado State stopped short at the horn.
Ava Puglisi
Photo by Ava Puglisi of the Rocky Mountain Collegian

Photo by Ava Puglisi of the Rocky Mountain Collegian

Overtime was just in grasp for the 7,000 fans who refused to sit during the final minutes of play between Colorado State and Nevada.

Despite Joel Scott having 15 points, Isaah Stevens scoring 23 and tying the score at 74 in the last ten seconds, Nevada claimed the 77-74 victory. For the win to happen, the Wolf Pack’s guard Jarod Lucas nailed a one-legged half-court bank shot.

“I got asked yesterday if I could give one word to describe the Mountain West – what I came up with was unforgiving,” head coach Niko Medved said.

The game was indeed unforgiving, with Medved calling it “a gut punch.” A shot like the one from Lucas, just does not happen every day. While the stat sheet will not be able to describe the improbability of the make, there is another, more important thing it cannot show too.

When CSU and Nevada played their last 11 minutes of basketball, it took a total of 43 minutes. The extensive gameplay prompts asking why.

The answer to that question starts with the 45 personal fouls collected in the matchup. 22 from Nevada, and 23 from CSU. The stop and go play, caused by the whistle-happy officiating kept the Rams from gaining momentum.

“It was double bonus, foul city, it was just a really physical, choppy game,” Medved said. “I didn’t realize it took that long but, I know there were a lot of free throws shot. And it wasn’t very up and down, it was just foul, foul, foul . . . this was a grinder.”

In total, Nevada shot 30 free throws, making 23. The Rams shot 18-of-22 from the stripe. Scott, who spent a large amount of time battling in the paint, did not realize the duration of play in the final stretch.

“During the game you don’t really notice it as much, but it’s part of it though,” Scott said. “All the fouls and everything is just part of the game and you got to go with it and keep playing your hardest.”

However, an issue that has lingered under the surface for CSU finally came to recognition. Somewhere in the month of February, the Rams lost their rhythm. It certainly does not help when each trip down the court equates to another delay at the line. Key players like Patrick Cartier and Nique Clifford have not been able to find the element they possessed earlier in the season.

“Those two dudes are some of the best shooters on our team,” Stevens said. “Their track record so far this year speaks right to that. They’ll make their shots, and we are going to continue to trust them . . . The right basketball play is to go to them standing at the three-point line with their feet set. We’re not shying away from those guys just because they are struggling a little bit.”

The problem with feeding those players the ball is that in the matchup against Nevada, a single three-pointer was made in the second half by the Rams. While it did come from Clifford, Cartier went 0-of-1 from outside the arc in the game. The Rams shot 6-of-18 from three.

If the Rams want to compete with a team like the Wolf Pack, who shot 10-21 from three, they will need to gain the offensive spark again. Good shooting teams will always find a victory if defense is punished by officiating.

As February rolls on, and tournament play draws near, the Rams hit what appears to be a slump. Their last three outings resulted in losses. While yes, two on the road, Nevada notches the second victory by an opponent in Moby this season.

Overall, for the Rams to be successful, they must once again find the rhythm that the Mountain West has taken away from them.

CSU plays two more games in the regular season. The first against Wyoming at Moby on March 2. The final at Air Force on March 9.

The Ram’s record declines to 20-9 overall, (8-8 MW).