Welcome back, Isaiah Stevens. 

The senior point guard made his season debut in Wednesday’s 87-71 win over Loyola Marymount. Had you gone into the night with no knowledge of his preseason injury, you wouldn’t have guessed he had one based on the way that he played. 

Stevens opened the game by draining a mid-range jumper and followed it up with a stepback three that was silky smooth. Not long after that, Stevens drove into the paint, went up, absorbed the contact and had the body control to finish through it. Although he only played 19 minutes in his first game back, Stevens displayed the same explosiveness and versatility that we’ve all become accustomed to seeing over the years. He finished with 13 points, 4 assists and zero turnovers in what was an on-brand performance. 

While it was big to have Stevens back for this matchup against a quality mid-major opponent, there were a lot of guys that produced for the Green & Gold.

John Tonje followed up his 25-point performance against Mississippi-Valley with 23 points on 8-of-12 shooting against LMU. His ability to knock down long-range attempts continues to provide a big boost for the offense. He was also active as a defender, and on the glass with a team-high seven rebounds though. Tonje had a highlight dunk. It was just a really nice showing for the senior out of Omaha, NE. 

Colorado State basketball guard John Tonje goes for a layup during a game against Loyola Marymount at Moby Arena, Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2022, in Fort Collins, Colo. Photo: Tanya Fabian (USA TODAY Images)

Isaiah Rivera shot 70 percent from the floor and had zero turnovers in a 19-point showing. The junior guard has really stepped up this year since getting a chance to play extended minutes. As has Jalen Lake. The sophomore guard had 13 points, four rebounds and four assists. Where he really made a major impact though was on the defensive side. He’s become a really solid on-ball defender and showed that he can be a shot blocker as well with a pair of rejections. Lake finds ways to impact the game in just about every capacity. 

Patrick Cartier led the bench unit with 16 points on 7-of-10 shooting. His presence in the paint was huge for CSU, particularly in the first half when he posted up and finished over and around a larger defender on multiple possessions. With 16 points in just 18 minutes of action, he definitely made the most of his time on the floor. 

In general it was just a really solid team win for the Rams who have now won 15 consecutive non-conference games at Moby Arena. There were maybe a few things that you would like to see get cleaned up. CSU was a bit erratic offensively in the first half and had a poor 2 minute stretch late that allowed LMU to cut the Rams’ lead to two possessions. Free throw shooting continues to be a struggle for this team as well (11-of-16). But considering CSU ended up shooting 63% as a team in the second half, while continuing to play tremendous on-ball defense, they really didn’t have to sweat too much. 

After making just one of their first 10 3-point attempts, the Rams eventually started to find the bottom of the net and made nine of their next 15 from deep to finish at 40% as a team (10-of-25). Some of those early missed jump shots were a little premature in the possession for my blood — I would have liked to have seen another ball reversal or two — ultimately they were open looks though, so it’s not as if they were poor decisions.

What the coaches will really love — even more than the made jump shots — is that the Rams had 24 assists and only four turnovers. CSU was able to hold a significant advantage in points scored in the paint too (+14). When you factor in the quality defense, this was the Medved brand of basketball. Hopefully it’s a sign of what’s to come as the Rams branch into a challenging stretch of non-conference games.

CSU will look to keep up the quality play at home when Northern Colorado rolls into Moby Saturday afternoon. The women’s team recently lost in triple overtime to the in-state rivals. We’ll see if the men’s squad can gain back some of the bragging rights. 

Author

Justin is a Colorado State alumnus and has covered the Rams for DNVR since 2019. Prior to coming to DNVR, Justin was the founder of RamsReport.com and the Sports Director for the Rocky Mountain Collegian. From 2013-15 he was an intern for CSU Football.

>
X