Feb 052004
 
Authors: Vince Blaser

CSU men’s basketball coach Dale Layer doesn’t care that the Rams

had to head to overtime in the last three games. All he cares about

is that he won those three games.

“We grow up in overtime,” Layer said after CSU’s 89-83 overtime

win against Nevada-Las Vegas on Jan. 26, the second of three

consecutive overtime wins at home. “Our team has grown up, I’m

proud of them.”

If the Rams (11-8 overall, 3-3 Mountain West Conference) go to

overtime against New Mexico (11-8, 2-4 ) Saturday at The Pit in

Albuquerque, N.M., they will tie a NCAA record shared by three

teams for consecutive games played in overtime. The 7 p.m. game

will be televised in Fort Collins by SportsWest.

CSU has won three consecutive games in the Mountain West for the

first time ever under Layer, who is in his fourth season as head

coach. The three wins pulled the Rams into a three-way tie for

third in the conference, two games behind conference-leader Air

Force (15-3, 5-1).

“Our conference is so crazy,” said forward Matt Williams, CSU’s

second-leading scorer. “You can be out then be right back in it in

a heartbeat.”

The Lobos have struggled of late, losing consecutive road games

against UNLV and San Diego State. However, The Pit is traditionally

one of the hardest places for visiting teams to win, and New Mexico

has proven it this season by beating Utah and Brigham Young at the

team’s home arena, which is largely underground.

The Rams will likely be without the services of 7-foot center

Matt Nelson, CSU’s leading scorer, for the second consecutive game.

Nelson re-injured his sprained right knee in the second half of the

UNLV game.

The Lobos are led by 6-foot-8 forward Danny Granger, whose 21.1

points per game would be leading the conference in points per game

had he not missed the first four games of the season because he

transferred from Bradley.

New Mexico center David Chioitti and guards Javin Tindall and

Troy DeVries all average more than 12 points a game for a team that

averages 72 points per game.

The Rams may once again look to the bench to provide a spark.

Freshman point guard Dwight Boatner and senior forward Ronnie Clark

led the Rams’ late comeback in CSU’s 75-74 overtime victory against

Wyoming, Saturday. Boatner hit the game-winning layup for the Rams

and Clark grabbed 12 key rebounds.

After playing in Albuquerque on Saturday, the Rams will face

conference-leading Air Force in Colorado Springs Monday at 7

p.m.

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