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All 5 starters chip in as Colorado State takes care of business in road win

Justin Michael Avatar
February 4, 2024

Taking care of business. 

Colorado State (17-5, 5-4) came into Saturday night’s matchup with Fresno State (9-13, 2-7) still searching for its first road win of the conference slate. In a businesslike performance against the Bulldogs, the Rams backed up Tuesday’s home win over San Diego State with a 73-61 victory that was arguably just as important. 

It’s easy to get up for a premiere matchup in front of a sold out crowd. In a trap game scenario against a pesky team like Fresno State, it takes a more self-internalized motivation. But to CSU’s credit, the guys did exactly what they needed to in this one. 

The Rams took a 31-25 advantage into the break after establishing an early lead. And instead of playing with their food by giving an inferior opponent the opportunity to hang around, Niko Medved’s squad slammed the door on any possibilities of late-game theatrics with an approach that was calm, cool and collected on both ends of the floor. 

As a team the Rams shot 53 percent from the floor, 41 percent from deep and 100 percent at the free throw line. They also had 15 assists on 28 made field goals while only turning the ball over five times. In a true road setting it was really impressive offensive execution, especially considering all five starters got involved. 

Joel Scott and Patrick Cartier tied for the team-lead with 14 points apiece on a combined 11-of-17 shooting. Each guy made a pair from deep and it really did wonders for opening up the spacing against a team that threw a lot of different looks at CSU defensively. They both had their moments down low as well. 

Along with those two, Nique Clifford had 12 points, eight rebounds and four assists in 35 minutes. Isaiah Stevens had 12 points and a couple of assists. Josiah Strong had 10 second-half points to seal the deal as well. 

The depth of the roster has been one of the greatest strengths for the Rams this season and on a week where they really needed to be able to depend on the veterans, a multitude of guys stepped up and made big plays in a couple of key wins. 

Here are some more takeaways from Saturday night. 

Feb 3, 2024; Fresno, California, USA; Colorado State Rams forward Joel Scott (1) points during a break in the action against the Fresno State Bulldogs in the first half at the Save Mart Center. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Scott’s shots 

For the second game in a row, Joel Scott hit a pair from beyond the arc in the second half. 

After hitting just six 3’s over the first couple of months, the former Division II star has made four of the six he’s let fly over the last two wins. 

I’m not saying that he should change his mindset or start launching 3-pointers like he’s Steph Curry, but it really opens up the floor when the big man can confidently stroke a few when he’s left open. It’s been great to see him shooting the ball with confidence, particularly with how well he’s also scoring in the paint right now. 

Scott deserves praise for his efforts as a passer in the win, too. His six assists doubled his best single-game total coming in. He also had six rebounds in a really well-rounded performance. 

Timely touch 

The 3-point shooting as a whole has been up and down this season. The shot selection on Saturday was really encouraging for the second game in a row though. 

CSU was unselfish with the basketball and consistently worked inside-out to create quality looks. 

What was really great was that four different players each made multiple 3’s in the win. Multiple players also demonstrated the ability to knock down a big shot in a clutch situation. 

Defense traveled 

Teams tend to score better in their own gym. If you’re going to be a consistently competitive program, defending at a high level on the road is paramount. The Rams did that and it’s one of the biggest reasons they pulled out the win. 

CSU forced 12 turnovers which resulted in 16 points the other way. And they made timely adjustments whenever the Bulldogs found any type of spark offensively.

Credit the Green & Gold for locking in and ensuring that they won an important game in a setting where it could have been easy to come out flat. 

Next up 

CSU responded in a major way this week. 

The Rams have a massive opportunity to keep the good vibes going with a couple of games in Fort Collins coming up. 

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