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CSU keeps pace for the No. 2 seed in the MW Tournament with a sweep over Air Force

Justin Michael Avatar
March 2, 2021

FORT COLLINS, CO. — Two down, two to go. 

Colorado State men’s basketball won its second game in a row against Air Force at Moby Arena on Monday night. The 74-44 victory over the Falcons keeps CSU in line for the No. 2 seed in the Mountain West Tournament, and technically keeps a slim shot at a league title alive; although it would take a San Diego State loss at UNLV on Wednesday and two more wins from the Rams this week for it to happen.

While CSU cannot control its own destiny when it comes to determining seeding for the single-elimination tournament at the Thomas and Mack Center next week, the Rams can continue to improve an at-large resume that currently remains unblemished outside of Quad 2 matchups. 

CSU may not have an impressive non-conference win to bolster its national perception but the best way to silence any doubters is by taking care of business in the games available. So far, the Rams have done this. But they’ll need to continue to play well down the stretch and even into the Mountain West Tournament. 

If the Rams do win out in the regular season, one would assume that it would be enough to comfortably place the Green & Gold into the big dance. Again, though, the best bet for the Rams is to make a definitive statement by making a run in Sin City. 

The last thing Niko Medved’s squad needs is a third-consecutive first round exit or anything that potentially fuels a narrative that this team feasts on lowly competition but struggles in the bigger moments. Anyone that has watched this team closely all year knows that it’s simply not the case — the Rams have been up for the challenge in all of the biggest games — but you just never know if a national committee paid enough attention to give them the benefit of the doubt. With that in mind, Medved’s young team needs to not leave any doubt on the table, and continue to rack up late-season wins — even if they come against competition that is less than stellar. 

In Monday’s win it was far from a pretty shooting performance. The ball movement was excellent and the Rams did a nice job of getting open looks from the floor but simply could not hit water if they fell out of a boat. As a team CSU made just five of its 28 attempts from the perimeter (18 percent). 

Fortunately for the Rams, the jump shots were not falling on offense, but a stellar defensive showing allowed them to control things for much of the night. CSU forced 18 turnovers in the victory, leading to 22 points for the Rams. Comparatively, Air Force forced 11 turnovers, leading to just 8 points for the Falcons. A quality night at the charity stripe did not hurt CSU’s cause either (23-of-28). Neither did a dominant team performance in the paint where the Rams held a 32-18 advantage.

Pacing the Rams individually in scoring was David Roddy. The sophomore forward from Minneapolis, Minn., was a force to be reckoned with down low and really made it difficult for the Falcons to keep him out of the paint — especially in the second half. Much like he did in the Game 1 victory, Roddy set the tone physically on Monday, and it made a big difference in the outcome. In total, Roddy recorded 22 points and a game-high 12 rebounds to complete his eighth double-double of the season.

Just behind Roddy was Isaiah Stevens with 15 points, 4 rebounds and 3 assists in 31 minutes of action. Along with Roddy and Stevens, one of the guys that really made a positive impact was Adam Thistlewood, though. The junior forward was not his usual self from 3-point range, however, he did come up with 8 rebounds and sacrificed his body for 50-50 balls on multiple occasions. When the jump shots are not falling, it’s that type of effort that can really spark a run, and you know that it did not go unnoticed by his teammates and coaches.

Next Up: New Mexico on Wednesday night (6:00 p.m. MT on the MW Network).

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