Rams Advance on Stevens’ Gamewinner In NIT Opener

Death, taxes…

And CSU Sophomore Point Guard Isaiah Stevens closing out a game with the winning bucket.

He did it multiple times his freshman year (Loyola, Tulsa, Nevada). He’s done it in the current season (UNLV, Buffalo).

It always looks a little different. This time it was off a set which featured Adam Thistlewood flashing to the top of the key followed by a Stevens’ lay-in.

And somehow it looks remarkably easy when Stevens closes.

But its not.

Its never the same.

Sometimes sprinting up the floor, sometimes running a set briskly, sometimes killing seconds of the clock off until the final foray.

Sometimes a Chris Paul-like tear drop, sometimes a Lillard-like pull-up or long-range bomb.

But the result always seems to be the same.

Stevens bucket, Rams win.

And that is extraordinary.

The final layup propelled the Rams to a gritty 75-73 win over the Buffalo Bulls in the first round of the NIT. It wasn’t easy as the teams went back and forth on a series of mini-runs, extending leads only to be reeled back in by their game opponent.

The Bulls looked to be on their way 6 minutes into the second half as they had extended a 1-point half time lead to 50-44. They were starting to establish a foothold with their fast pace and ability to attack the rim.

And then the play that turned the game.

Following a pair of DischonThomas free throws,  the Rams suddenly came with full-court pressure via an extended, trapping 1-3-1 zone.  It was the first time all season the Rams came with extended trapping pressure.  Within seconds, they had a Kendle Moore steal, a pass to Stevens, a dish to Adam Thistlewood for Three-ball to bring the Rams to 50-49.

The Bulls had been caught off-guard and it appeared to completely remove them from that rhythm they had established. The Rams found a way to turn the tables as they bolted to a 59-51 lead. It was enough to allow them to get to the final seconds, setting up Stevens’ last second heroics.

Sophomore forward David Roddy led the Rams with 17 points and 8 rebounds. Stevens would finish with 14 and a game-high 9 assists. Thistlewood had 14 that featured 4-10 from the perimeter. And the big tandem of James Moors/ Dischon Thomas combined for 18 points and 12 rebounds.

A team effort that controlled the pace of a fast-tempo opponent, a near stalemate on the glass against a top offensive rebounding opponent, a defense that got important stops and helped win the turnover battle.

A team effort for sure to set up Stevens’ heroics.

Playing In Front of Family

With zero attendance allowed in Moby this season and limited opportunities on the road, this game was the first opportunity for families and friends to see their loved ones.

For Isaiah Stevens, it was the first time in 10 months that he had seen his family. And the first time for him to get a chance to play in his Dallas Metroplex home.

And the first time for his parents to see him score a gamewinner since his Allen High School days in a holiday tournament.

A truly special moment for sure.


A Word of Caution…

Dont ever take Isaiah Stevens’ ability to close games for granted. In all the years I have been watching CSU basketball and college basketball, I don’t recall anything quite like him.  Most guys use a signature move to set up a gamewinner. Stevens doesn’t rely on a signature move but a creative in-the-moment feel that allows him to tap into his rather large Arsenal.  A quiver full of arrows so to speak. He always pulls out the right arrow at the right time and the result is always a bulls-eye.

3 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. Just a few regurgitations. Overall I was pretty pleased with the officiating and flow of the game. The first half took only 40 minutes WITH commercials and the breaks were Not extremely long. Not certain the halftime seemed packed with commercials but I prefer that during halves of play.

    Now 2 concerns in the second half, one resolved correctly and the other not had the fellas lost by 1 or more. First the Crime that did pay. With 16:30 left Roddy’s rebound then outlet pass to mid court was not the best idea and was intercepted by Graves. But Graves clearly came down with his right leg extended and clearly 2’ out of bounds on the green sideline he proceeded to go down and slam the ball down. David should of challenged him but it was so obvious with his white legging and shoes driving off as the pivot??? Obviously not obvious to the 3 officials, nor the announcers but it was to the Buffalo bench yucking it up!

    The second issue was with 5:30 to go. Even eyewitness and replay was not clear to the announcers as to what happened? With Williams trailing he hooks Adam going left to right at the top of the key jerking arm and elbow up and entire upper body back then Williams throws his head back feigning contact!! Had the officials been duped like the announcers that could have been tragic instead they called the hook and FOUL on Williams then Kendell got the 3 for the 62 – 62 tie.

    Replay does slow the game but with the Flagrant Foul Rule involving technical and ejections it is extremely necessary to get it right. With 3:49 left they fixed Graves 3 pointer at 4:10 to play to a 2 after Thistlewood’s three to tie at 65 ALL to 64-65 Rams, why did they not go back previously on the dunk?

    Based upon your post game outside family reunion video I assume you were in attendance? Were Graves theft and Williams acting performance visible to you?

    Nevertheless the fellas came out on the right side of the ledger. I was pleased overall with the Officiating and the announcers. Feldman was concise and described the action pretty good however early he identified Buffalo and CState incorrectly but not for long. Weisbrod not only knows (and played) the game she really did prep to give us background on the players and coaches gave excellent insight of the why and how other than the 2 instances out of hundreds of possessions. I really enjoyed the Kendell Moore family and Coach Thorson Charges and Wallups features. Both which you are well acquainted with being around, even from the distance, the team.

    Again I loved the postgame video. I just hope and pray the fellas remain healthy and finish the tasks at hand not cut short with an illness.

  2. It was incredible watching Isaiah at the end of the game.

    There was a 4-5 possession sequence with less than three minutes where he went:
    Floater in the lane
    2 FT after driving it to the basket (I believe after faking a floater)
    Then assist to Roddy after curling around the basket for what looked like another floater
    Then drove it all the way after head fake towards the Thistlewood screen

    Something different every single time that resulted in points for the Rams and made it look pedestrian
    Such amazing control of the flow of the game.
    He should be one of those NCAA tourney stars a couple years from now that can just take over a game.

  3. good stuff….wish they kept game winning shots…clavell had a handful in his tenure here. Good win, was ugly but good win. Was not impressed by Buffalo, and their guards especially. Seemed very tired on many plays not getting back and standing around. Glad to see our bigs show up and play hard against their bigs. Moors and Thomas starting to learn their way around the boards and impact the game.

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