Dec 072003
 
Authors: Vince Blaser

Men’s basketball coach Dale Layer’s 50th win at CSU came with

ease Saturday night.

After some sloppy play in the first few minutes, backup point

guard Dwight Boatner and the CSU bench ignited a 21-4 run and the

Rams (4-2) coasted to a 89-59 win against the outmatched

Gardner-Webb Bulldogs (2-5).

“(Boatner) was terrific there to finish the first half,” Layer

said. “His energy was very good.”

Boatner, a freshman from Lake Charles, La., scored all 10 points

and had three steals in seven first half minutes. Five Rams

finished the game in double figures, including 17 points from

center Matt Nelson and from forward Matt Williams.

Williams, who Layer said CSU counts on as a strong contributor

inside, only averaged 5.6 points a game on just 36 percent shooting

in CSU’s first five games. Layer responded by taking Williams out

of the starting lineup.

“That’s what I expect from Matt,” Layer said of Williams’

17-point performance. “He is now meeting expectations. He just

wasn’t playing with confidence.”

Williams said after he got off to a slow start, he thought about

his slump too much, but Saturday he was focused.

“If I can keep playing like this, I’ll be all right,” Williams

said.

The Rams played virtual error-free basketball after the first

few minutes of the game. CSU committed only 11 turnovers and 10

fouls against the Bulldogs, a far cry from their season averages of

23 turnovers and 24 fouls.

“Handling the ball was better tonight,” Layer said. “(But) we

came out a little flat.”

Nelson turned the ball over on the first two Ram possessions and

Gardner-Webb led 8-3 with 15:09 left in the first half before

forward Freddie Robinson hit a 3-pointer to start the Rams’

run.

Boatner made his third steal of the first half and took the ball

in for a layup as time ran out in the first half to give the Rams a

42-26.

Gardner-Webb, a private Baptist university from Boling Springs,

N.C., in their fourth year in Division I, stayed even with CSU for

most of the second half but never got closer than the 16-point

halftime deficit.

The Bulldogs lived and died by 3-pointers, hitting 8-of-26 from

long distance. The Rams were much more successful, hitting 7-of-11

3-pointers and shooting 55.2 percent from the floor for the

game.

CSU is 50-47 in three-plus years under Layer, but 23-2 when

scoring 80 points or more.

Next up for the Rams is in-state rival Colorado on Wednesday

night at Moby Arena. The Rams have lost three straight games to CU,

including a 93-72 beating in Boulder last season. Layer said the

Buffaloes are a very talented team and will be a handful to try and

contain. However, the players said they are ready for the

challenge.

“(The win) is fun, but we’ve also have to learn,” said point

guard Micheal Morris. “We got another big one coming up.”

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