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Isaiah Stevens is the greatest player in Colorado State men’s basketball history.
The fifth-year point guard came into Friday night’s matchup against Loyola Marymount as the all-time leader in assists for both CSU and the Mountain West (699). Not only did the veteran hoopster surpass 700 assists in his impressive career, but he also became CSU’s all-time leading scorer with a 19-point effort, as the No. 16 Rams moved to 11-1 on the year with a 76-67 true road win over LMU.
Stevens came into the game needing 13 points to tie Pat Durham for the school record. Durham’s 1,980 points in 125 career games had stood as the high water mark for the Green & Gold since 1989; and for many years it seemed like the record would never be topped.
If anyone was going to break the longstanding achievement, though, there is nobody more fitting than No. 4. The 6-foot-0, 185-pound pound guard has been instrumental in the rebuild of the program of under Niko Medved. And after electing to return to Fort Collins for one final run this year — instead of hopping in the transfer portal and chasing a paycheck — it’s awesome to see such a loyal player rewarded for his commitment.
After scoring 8 points on 4-of-6 shooting in the first half, the savvy hoopster ended up topping the Durham at the free throw line with 8:47 to play in the game. Stevens was fouled in the paint and proceeded to knock down a pair at the charity stripe to further cement his place in Rams history.
When it was all said and done, the veteran finished the night with 19 points on 8-of-13 shooting. He also paced the Rams with seven assists and pulled down three boards in a team-high 35 minutes of action.
Along with Stevens, CSU was aided by a standout performance from Nique Clifford. The Colorado transfer scored a career-high 23 points on 9-of-10 shooting and really was able to get whatever look he wanted in the victory.
Whether it was a backdoor cut resulting in an easy dunk or putting the ball on the floor and creating his own opportunities, Clifford consistently was able to put up high-quality attempts from the floor and to his credit, he made the most of them.
When the athletic guard is able to score like he did in this one, while also impacting the game on the glass, and as an on-ball defender, it really demonstrates how much more versatile the Rams are on both ends than they were a season ago.
The additions of Clifford, Joel Scott, etc, have significantly elevated CSU’s ceiling as a legitimate player in a deep Mountain West. And if the Rams can continue to compete on both ends of the floor like they have through the first 12 games of the regular season, Niko Medved’s squad is not going to be a group anybody is going to want to face in the NCAA Tournament.
It’s been a stellar start to the 2023-24 campaign for this experienced roster. It’s going to be a lot of fun to see how much noise they ultimately make in the coming months.