LAS VEGAS — Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Isaiah Stevens. 

When the clock is ticking down and the game is on the line, there are only a handful of individuals that you want to be running the show. For the Rams, that individual is Isaiah Stevens. 

Like a legendary quarterback operating the two minute drill to perfection, when most people would tense up, maybe even freeze, the moment seems to slow down for Stevens. 

On Wednesday afternoon, against the Fresno State Bulldogs, the Rams led by as much as 12 more than halfway through the second half. After giving up a 17-2 run and going down 3 to the Bulldogs with less than 2 minutes to go though, the Rams found themselves in a difficult position. 

From being up double digits to going down a basket in crunch time, a less composed team very easily could have crumbled in that moment. Fortunately for the Green & Gold, that’s when Stevens does his best work. 

Mar 3, 2023; Fort Collins, Colorado, USA; Colorado State Rams head coach Niko Medved talks with guard Isaiah Stevens (4) in the second half against the New Mexico Lobos at Moby Arena. Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Going all the way back to his freshman year, whenever the lights have been brightest, or the shots have been the biggest, it’s been Stevens that has most consistently stepped up. Whether it was the game-winning runner against Loyola-Chicago in 2019 or the mid-range jumper to beat Nevada in 2020, Stevens has just always had a coolness to him that is rare at the collegiate level. 

“Having a guy like that is pretty comforting,” Niko Medved said of Stevens postgame. “He’s just so calm under pressure in those situations.”

Against Fresno State in the opening round of the Mountain West Tournament, Stevens once again showed just how cool and collected he is under pressure.

After first driving through contact and completing a 3-point play at the free throw line to tie the game at 65 apiece, Stevens proceeded to hit the game-winning runner with a little under 3 seconds left in the game. 

In total the senior guard finished with 19 points and four assists in 39 minutes on the floor. 12 of those points came over the final 12 minutes of the game though. So like Manning or Elway, Stevens was able to really come up clutch in what would be the equivalent of the fourth quarter.

According to Isaiah’s father, Barry, even when Isaiah was a little kid, he always had a level head and was hard to rattle. 

“When he was playing little league basketball and all that jazz, he still just had a steady calmness about himself.”

When asked about the comparison between Stevens and legendary quarterbacks, Barry smiled and said that watching those types of guys in clutch situations, it’s like they’ve already been there before. 

“They’ve seen it and they’ve done it. And it just doesn’t rattle them in the situation. I’m glad that (Isaiah) is like that because he didn’t get it from us.” 

While the Stevens family may be used to watching Isaiah be a smooth operator, it does not make watching the action from the stands any less stressful. In fact, Barry described the feeling as sitting on pins and needles. 

“You learn to just say, hey, we’ve seen it plenty of times before,” Barry told DNVR.  

Let’s just trust the process and he’ll deliver. And he’s been doing that. He has an ability to stay calm and just execute, so it’s awesome.” 

After surviving and advancing past the Bulldogs on Wednesday, Stevens and the Rams are now tasked with trying to slay the top-seeded Aztecs. We’ll see if the savvy veteran has any more special tricks up his sleeve. 


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 and the Sports Director for the Rocky Mountain Collegian. From 2013-15 he was an intern for CSU Football.