Feb 292004
 
Authors: Justin Goldman

LARAMIE, Wyo. – The men’s basketball team cemented its

eighth-place seeding in the Mountain West Conference tournament by

falling to the Wyoming Cowboys on Saturday, 67-61.

CSU dropped to 3-10 in conference play (11-15 overall), which

makes the Rams last in the MWC. The Cowboys are seventh at 4-9

(11-15 overall).

The Arena-Auditorium’s 9,812 Cowboy fans witnessed a frenzy of

halftime events, including an appearance by Cowboys standout Marcus

Bailey and the entire football team. The Bronze Boot, given to the

winner of the Border War football game, was handed to the football

team for a special celebration, prompting the crowd to erupt and

act like a sixth man for the Cowboys in the second half.

“Their crowd is terrific,” said Rams’ head coach Dale Layer.

“They’re probably the most boisterous fans in our league. They

certainly make a difference every game we play here.”

The crowd’s emotions helped Wyoming senior David Rottinghaus

come off the bench and score a season-high 18 points to lead the

Cowboys down the stretch. He hit two important 3-pointers, one of

which was a four-point play because of a foul committed by Shelton

Johnson during the shot.

“I think that was the first of my career,” Rottinghaus said of

the four-point play. “I felt confident I was going to have a big

game today and I came out and played hard and got the job

done.”

The first half lacked any kind of flow or decent pace as the

referees called a total of 28 fouls. CSU freshman Dwight Boatner

was kept scoreless until late in the second half. He fouled out

with two points in only eight minutes of play.

“I thought they were calling it kind of tight,” Boatner said.

“It’s kind of hard to get into the flow of the game whenever you’re

in for two minutes and then you’re out for like six.”

Despite holding the Cowboys to 35 percent field goal shooting

with strong defensive play on Wyoming’s top two guards, Jay

Straight and Dion Sherrell, the Rams didn’t have enough in the

second half to overcome the crowd’s emotions.

“I thought their experience down the stretch was obviously a big

difference,” Layer said. “We had some defensive lapses-a couple of

turnovers in there-but I thought they just outplayed us.”

The Rams also had to play without starting guard Micheal Morris,

who sat out with an injured ankle.

“It’s frustrating,” Layer said about the team’s recent injuries.

“But that’s been the story of our season and hopefully we can have

a healthy two weeks.”

With conference-leading Air Force defeating UNLV Saturday in

Colorado Springs, the eighth-seeded Rams will play the Falcons in

the first tournament matchup on March 11 at the Pepsi Center.

Nevertheless, the CSU’s final conference standing is not as

important as its final regular season game on Saturday versus New

Mexico at Moby Arena. A win would provide positive momentum going

into the MWC tournament.

“We cannot get our heads down,” said guard Freddie Robinson. “We

still believe. We’re going to keep working hard and we’re not going

to let down until the season is over.”

*Collegian reporter Vince Blaser contributed to this story.

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