The CSU men’s basketball team went into this past weekend’s two-game conference road trip optimistic about its chances to make some waves in the Mountain West Conference, but they finished the road trip just happy to be home.
The depleted Rams, who have been ravaged by injuries so far this season, lost two more starters and a top reserve just before the trip.
Junior guard Joe Macklin, who had started every game for the Rams this season, was suspended indefinitely Saturday, with school officials saying only that it was due to “internal team matters.” Junior swingman Ronnie Clark suffered a broken thumb and freshman forward Matt Williams strained an abdominal muscle in the last practice before the trip, leaving head coach Dale Layer with only seven scholarship players and two walk-ons available for the game against San Diego State last Saturday.
Saturday, the Rams lost to the Aztecs 81-69 despite a 19-point, nine-assist effort by junior point guard Andy Birely. Aztec senior guard Al Faux scored a game-high 21 points, including four three-pointers in the second half to seal the victory for SDSU.
CSU then completed its two-game road swing by traveling to Las Vegas to play UNLV Monday night. The shorthanded but determined Rams got off to a bad start, shooting 36 percent from the field in the first half, but they somehow managed to keep it close. However, they eventually fell to the RunninA,’ Rebels 75-68, despite shooting 72 percent from the field in the second half.
Junior forward Brian Greene, the teamA,’s leading scorer and rebounder this season, scored a career high 32 points and pulled down 11 rebounds in the loss. Lou Kelly scored 23 points for the Rebels to help fight off the RamsA,’ second half surge.
Freshman swingman Freddy Robinson, who was 3 of 4 from three-point range against San Diego State, says the team is focused despite the losses and the injuries.
“The truth is, we’re not healthy,” said Robinson, who recorded two steals against UNLV. “It’s not excuse for losing, it’s just a fact. We’re still working hard in practice and staying focused and in a way, all the injuries are helping us gel and come together as a unit. I think we’ll be a much stronger team in the long run.”