There’s a famous line in the movie “Glengarry Glen Ross” where one character tells another “Put that coffee down. Coffee is for closers.”
Another way of saying “To the victors go the spoils.”
CSU super sophomores Isaiah Stevens and David Roddy are drinking the coffee tonight as they led the Rams seemingly back from the dead, closing the game on a 12-2 run in the final four minutes to gain an important conference victory over the visitors from Sin City.
The Rebels were coming off a 33-day COVID pause, but let’s get one thing straight. They did not play with any kind of rust. Let’s get another thing straight. The Rams did not take them lightly.
UNLV looked to be the more well-oiled machine in the first half as their effort and physicality in the paint kept the Rams at bay. CSU opened hot from the perimeter, making 8 of their first 12, but had difficulty scoring inside and even greater difficulty on the glass. An early Ram lead quickly evaporated as the visitors scored inside and out, pushing their lead to 8 before a late Ram run cut the lead to 1 at the half.
UNLV opened the second half much as they began the first, quickly expanding their lead to 7. The Rams were still struggling in the paint and cold from the perimeter and UNLV’s Bryce Hamilton was having his was as he scored on a variety of clever finishes off the glass. And when David Jenkins drained a free throw, the visitors led comfortably at 59-46 and appeared to be in complete control.
Not so fast as the dynamic backcourt of Stevens and Kendle Moore exploded. A pair of Stevens three-balls wrapped around a Hamilton jumper, a Moore three-ball, a clever finish at the rim by Stevens, a Moore steal followed by a 3-ball. A 14-2 run over a span of only 1:44 and the Rams were back in it, trailing 61-60 with more than 7 minutes remaining.
But the Rams cooled off again and Hamilton continued to score contested points inside and out. The Rebels pushed their lead back up to 7 inside of 4 minutes.
Plenty of time for the Rams who overcame a similar margin the previous Saturday in less than 2 minutes.
But the had to get aggressive. Coach Niko Medved described it this way:
”We had to pitch a shutout on defense. We had to get out in transition. And we had to play fast, but not in a hurry.”
Now it was time for Roddy to join in the fun. He had begun the game with three early 3-balls but was limited inside by the defense of the Rebels’ Eduardo Del Cadia.
Roddy followed a James Moors FT miss with a tough offensive rebound, then powered his way inside to draw del Cadia’s 5th foul. Roddy converted the free throws. Then a defensive stop, a pair of free throws from Stevens, another stop.
The ball found its way to Roddy on the low block and he powered his way to the basket, scoring and drawing a foul in the process. He converted the free throw and the Rams had their first lead since the 7:27 mark of the first half.
The lead was short-lived as Hamilton once again did his magic, scoring on a crafty jumper with 49 seconds remaining.
Time for more Roddy heroics as he took a pass from John Tonje and made a clever move before finishing at the rim.
72-71 Rams with 25 seconds remaining. Plenty of time for Hamilton to do his thing.
The Rams dug in knowing that a stop would probably mean a win. They had to be looking for Hamilton but UNLV ran a play for Caleb Grill to shoot a 3-ball off a hard screen. The Rams were there to contest, the shot bounced harmlessly off the rim into the hands of Stevens, who was fouled. He calmly drained the free throws, the Rams forced an off-balance and wild 3-ball from David Jenkins, the final horn sounded.
The Rams had completed another scintillating comeback victory, closing with a 12-2 run.
Expressos for all!
Isaiah Stevens was obviously feeling the RamNation.com Karma after his podcast appearance earlier in the week. His final line was fantastic: 25 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists. How he got there was sublime. Perimeter jumpers, drives to the hoop, finger rolls. But his best came on the final play of the first half as he drove the length of the court in the final 4 seconds to score a high-off-the-glass runner. When asked about it he said, “I had to get it and go. Four seconds is plenty of time to get to the rim if I beat the first defender.” If you listened to the podcast, you learned that Isaiah patterns his game after Chris Paul. Paul would have been proud of that one.
David Roddy finished with 18 points and 5 rebounds, and 5 of those points and 3 of the rebounds came in those final 4 minutes. UNLV threw some different looks and inserted the big and physical del Cadia into the starting lineup to deal with Roddy. Said Roddy of del Cadia, “We had him in our scouting report. We had to adjust to him in the starting lineup.” It wasn’t easy but Roddy found a way to get it done at the end.
Dischon Thomas came off the bench to score a season high 10 points and grab 6 rebounds in only 14 minutes. He struggled a bit to finish at the rim in the first half, but became much more assertive in the paint in the second half and was a key contributor in the comeback. “We needed him tonight.”, said Medved.
Medved also called out the defensive performances of John Tonje and Kendle Moore. Tonje drew Hamilton in the final minutes and held him to just one contested field goal. Moore held UNLV shooter David Jenkins to 11 points on 2-11 shooting. Two years ago, appearing against the Rams in a South Dakota State uniform, Jenkins torched the Rams to the tune of 32 points on 10-16 shooting.
Hamilton Shows Why He’s An All-MWC Player
Bryce Hamilton was a All-MWC first teamer last season and a pre-season first teamer this season. The 6’4” junior torched the Rams last year to the tune of 28 points in Moby and 25 in the return match at the T&M. It doesnt matter that you know he’s going to his left. He’ll score on you anyway. David Roddy and John Tonje did most of the guarding. They didn’t completely shut Hamilton down. They did hold him to 23 on 10-26 shooting.