After an emphatic 22-point victory two nights prior over the visitors from Boise, the CSU Rams were looking for a repeat performance to climb their way to the top of the Mountain West standings.
But it wasn’t to be as the Broncos unleashed their physicality and athleticism that had been harnessed in the first match-up. The Broncos dominated the paint, forced turnovers, and generally had their way on both ends of the floor as they overcame a 39-38 halftime deficit, built a big lead and then held the Rams off down the stretch to score an important victory.
The first half proved to be a bit of fools gold as the Broncos outscored the Rams 18-10 in the paint and 9-4 in points off turnovers. The visitor’s big man Malden Armus was scoring at will inside, either directly or from putbacks. It was only the hot shooting of CSU’s Adam Thistlewood that pushed the Rams to a 39-38 halftime lead.
CSU Head Coach Niko Medved described it as “A false sense of where we were at.”
The game turned immediately from the first possession of the second half as Boise State went on an early run to build an 8-point lead. A CSU timeout to quell the run, followed by an immediate turnover. An expanded lead for the visitors, a media timeout, another CSU turnover, and Boise was off to the races.
The lead was 23 with 9:41 remaining and it certainly appeared to be game over.
To the Rams’ credit, they mounted a furious comeback that brought them back to within 6 points. But two failed possessions, the first a wild foray by guard Kendle Moore into a swarm of Boise defenders that resulted in a turnover, followed by a David Roddy missed three-ball doomed the Rams down the stretch.
But it wasn’t to be as the Broncos got what they deserved and the Rams did too.
Thistlewood would finish with 24 points. Roddy added 16 with 8 rebounds. Isaiah Stevens had 17 along with 9 assists and 7 rebounds but it was his 7 turnovers that muddled his performance and led to his team’s demise. Boise outscored the Rams 24-14 in points off turnovers for the game. That was essentially the final margin.
Said Thistlewood after the game, “We didn’t have the toughness and the energy.”
Said Roddy, “Boise picked up the pressure and they were physical. We needed to play with a high level of intensity and focus.”
We’ll learn about that next week when the Rams travel to Laramie to play a pair of games against bitter rival Wyoming.