Colorado State nearly pulled off an incredible comeback in Saturday’s game against Wyoming.
After trailing the Cowboys by 14 at halftime, and by as much as 16 in the contest, the Rams followed one of their worst halves of the season with an admirable resurgence down the stretch.
CSU’s 36 second-half points were close to double what they produced in the first (21), and after recording 12 turnovers in the first half alone, the Rams managed to value their possessions more over the final 20 minutes by consistently creating quality looks.
A much better offensive approach combined with a more active effort defensively allowed CSU to slowly but surely chip into Wyoming’s lead. While it took some time for the momentum to turn, you could feel out of the break that the Rams were playing with much more purpose than they did early on. Over the final 12 minutes or so though, is when things really started to get interesting.
The Rams at one point held the Pokes scoreless for seven and a half consecutive minutes. And it was over that time that CSU used a 15-0 run to flip a 13 point deficit into the Rams’ first lead of the game since it was 1-0. All of a sudden we had a competitive game on our hands.
After exchanging a couple of baskets with the Pokes in the ensuing minutes, the Rams, sparked by John Tonje, used another 7-0 run to go up by a single possession with 2:33 remaining (57-54).
Unfortunately though, in a sequence of events that could have been straight out of a sports movie, the final moments did not go CSU’s way. After John Tonje did not get a call despite getting shoved in the back on one end, Jalen Lake was then called for a foul on his contest of Noah Reynolds on the other. And Reynolds proceeded to score the game-winning point at the free throw line with about 3 seconds to go.
CSU did have an opportunity to replicate the play they used to force overtime in UNLV. This time, however, Isaiah Rivera was unable to connect with Isaiah Stevens on the difficult 50-foot pass. So instead of ending in celebration like it did for the Rams at the Thomas and Mack Center, CSU left Arena-Auditorium wishing just a few more plays had gone differently.
While the loss is a bitter pill to swallow, particularly with the way that the final couple of possessions played out, the Rams can’t blame the officials for digging their grave in this one. CSU played as poorly in the first half as they have all season long, so while they may have some reason to gripe about the end, ultimately there were a ton of costly mistakes from the Rams that added up and came back to bite them.
Whether it was CSU’s 18 turnovers, which resulted in a significant disparity in shot attempts between the two sides; not to mention 10 points the other way for Wyoming. Whether it was 13 missed 3-pointers in a tough shooting performance for the Rams. Whatever you want to point to, there were a lot of things that CSU could have done differently to impact the outcome.
Finally, although the outcome is probably what will stick with a competitor like Stevens the most, the senior point guard did become the program’s all-time leader in assists. With 15 points and 10 rebounds, Stevens was able to record his fourth double-double of the season as well. He needed just three more assists for the first-ever triple-double in school history.
After a much-needed week off, we’ll see if the Rams can get back on the winning track against a Boise State team that has exceeded expectations so far this year.