Things were a little too close for comfort Friday night. Southeastern Louisiana gave Colorado State all it could handle in the second game of the year. But when the game was on the line, for the second time this week, an inexperienced Rams team was able to pull out a tight win in front of the home fans (80-69) to advance to 2-0 on the young season.
Things started much better offensively for CSU than they did in Monday’s 65–63 comeback win over Gardner-Webb, as the Rams were able to shoot 54% from the floor and hit 8-of-15 threes in the first half. As a result of the hot start from deep, CSU led by as much as 13 and never once trailed.
The problem was as well as the Green & Gold were able to shoot the ball, especially for the first 14 minutes or so, the Rams were unable to bury the visiting Lions who also shot the ball at an above-average rate from beyond the arc
After allowing the Lions to also hit 8-of-15 threes in the opening half, and also not producing a field goal from the 6:01 mark until the 2:05 mark, CSU’s lead shrunk from 10+ points to just a single possession at halftime (42-40).
From there both teams would make runs at various points of the second half. To SLU’s credit, whenever CSU tried to really extend the lead and pull away, the Lions always came back with a couple of counter punches to keep things interesting. In the end they just did not have quite enough talent to overcome the bigger school on the road. And to CSU’s credit, as tight as things got for them at times, they made enough plays to leave Moby Arena with the victory on Friday night.
While the Rams were able to build the initial lead with the three-ball and really did most of their damage from along the perimeter in the first half, it was clear that they made an effort to attack the paint more over the final 20 minutes. CSU had just 8 points in the paint in the first half but finished with 28 after attacking the paint consistently in the second.
It was good that CSU was able to adjust and create more penetration down the stretch because the jump shots that seemingly would not miss for either side early on did not fall as frequently in the final half. After the teams combined to go 16-of-30 from 3-point range in the first half (53%), they both came down to earth as the matchup progressed. CSU, specifically, missed all six of its 3-point attempts late. Again though, they found a way to get it done.
Leading the Rams in scoring was Patrick Cartier. The Hillsdale-College transfer had 17 points and seven rebounds in 22 minutes off the bench. But what was encouraging was that the Rams had six different individuals finish the night in double-digit figures. It was definitely a team victory in terms of production.
The Rams have plenty of room to grow this season and they will as this young group gets more experience. We’ll see if they can improve to 3-0 when Weber State comes to town Monday night.