Feb 162004
 
Authors: Vince Blaser

Seven-foot center Matt Nelson returned in a big way for Big

Monday, but Brigham Young center Rafael Araujo matched Nelson

basket for basket, and BYU handed the CSU men’s basketball team a

79-73 loss Monday night at Moby Arena.

Nelson, CSU’s leading scorer, scored 24 points off the bench in

his return from a sprained right knee. But Araujo answered Nelson

all night, scoring 21 points and grabbing 14 rebounds.

“The knee felt fine,” Nelson said after the game. “I surprised

myself with how I played and hopefully I’ll continue to play like

this.”

The difference came on two big BYU runs, one in each half.

The game, which started at 10 p.m. because ESPN televised it as

part of the channel’s Big Monday tripleheader, gave BYU (16-7

overall, 6-4 Mountain West Conference), its fourth straight win,

while the Rams (11-12, 3-7) lost their fourth straight conference

game.

Behind five early points from freshman point guard Dwight

Boatner, the Rams jumped out to a 19-8 lead during the first 8

minutes and 35 seconds of the game. Boatner finished with 10

points.

However, the Cougars responded with a 20-2 run in the next 5:16,

right after Nelson entered the game for the first. The Rams

committed eight first-half turnovers, many while attempting to get

the ball to Nelson inside. He had not played since Jan. 26 against

Nevada – Las Vegas.

CSU also let the Cougars pull down eight first-half offensive

rebounds. BYU turned the mistakes into easy layups. Araujo had five

steals and eight points on 4-9 shooting in the first half. BYU

shooting guard Adam Hall also had 7 first-half points.

The first 12 minutes of the second half turned into an epic

battle between Araujo and Nelson, who traded baskets and blocks

while the score remained between a two- and eight-point lead for

BYU. Nelson capped off a 7-2 CSU run with a jump shot to tie the

game 54-54 with 8:27 to play.

The Cougars responded with a 15-4 run of their own over the next

four minutes, capped by a 3-pointer from reserve guard Kevin

Woodberry to give BYU a 69-58 lead with 4:38 to play. The Rams made

a late run, but comeback hopes were dashed with 45 seconds when

forward Matt Williams missed a spinning layup with CSU down

75-70.

“We just have to get over that hump,” point guard Micheal Morris

said.

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