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Colorado State shocks Fresno State in 60-57 comeback win

Justin Michael Avatar
February 19, 2023

Colorado State seemed destined for heartbreak once again on Saturday afternoon. 

The Rams trailed Fresno State by as much as 11 in the second half and were even down 5 with 39 seconds left in the game. After the Bulldogs missed a couple of important free throws in the final minute though, the Rams took advantage of the situation and closed on an 8-0 run to steal a 60-57 road victory. 

When the Rams desperately needed points late, Isaiah Stevens knocked down a couple of jump shots over the final 30 seconds to keep the Rams in it. The senior point guard was a gametime decision after injuring his ankle in the Boise State game on Wednesday. But just like he did in that tight loss to the Broncos, Stevens gutted it out and led the Rams with 17 points, five rebounds and four assists in 40 minutes on the floor. 

Isaiah Stevens (4) shoots against the USC Trojans during the second half at Footprint Center. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Along with Stevens, John Tonje came up clutch down the stretch as well. The senior guard had a crucial layup late and ultimately made the go-ahead free throws with 4.9 seconds left after Fresno State fouled him after the inbound pass. 

Then in the closing moments, after Tavi Jackson came up with a steal off an errant pass on the Bulldogs’ ensuing possession, Jalen Lake ultimately sealed the deal with two more free throws with 1 second remaining in the game. 

For CSU, the comeback victory is an encouraging moment after coming so close but falling short in a handful of league losses this year. While the results have not come for this group consistently, they have played incredibly hard throughout the difficult stretch, even as injuries/illness have really impacted the rotation. It’s nice to see them win a tight one after experiencing so many tough losses — especially after Wednesday’s questionable finish. 

For Fresno State, the loss is back-breaking, particularly after losing by 2 to San Diego State earlier this week. The Bulldogs have now lost three in a row and very well could lose multiple more down the stretch, as they still have a pair of road games and a tough home date with Nevada. 

While the Rams will still need to win a few more and get some help along the way, you feel a lot better about their chances of avoiding the 10-11 game in the conference tournament than you did going into the weekend. CSU will most certainly be underdogs on Tuesday at San Diego State, however, the games against Wyoming, San Jose State and New Mexico feel more like toss ups. 

If CSU is going to have success in the final four games, matching the effort they had on the glass in this one will be important. Despite facing a physical and lengthy team the Rams finished with a 36-30 advantage in total rebounds and limited the Bulldogs to just 7 second-chance points. 

Continuing to have a presence in the paint will be big as well. Patrick Cartier had 13 points on Saturday and really dominated when he got touches in the post. In total the Rams had 26 points in the paint which matched Fresno State’s production. 

As far as where the Rams can clean things up, limiting turnovers is going to be key. The Rams had 14 against the Bulldogs and FSU was able to turn that into 13 points the other way. Against a team like SDSU, you simply cannot afford to have that many giveaways. 

Going to Viejas Arena is always a challenge. We’ll see what the Rams have in store for the Aztecs after beating a similar style of opponent this weekend. 


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