The Rams played another great first half only to come up short in the second half as they lost to the New Mexico Lobos Saturday 72-61.
The Rams used good guard play, team defense and team shooting to lead at halftime 38-33. Freshmen Sean Morris and Jason Smith hooked up on a number of plays to help the Rams.
But turnovers were again the story in this game, as the Rams committed a season-high 24 turnovers in the game, 16 of which came in the second half. The Rams were outscored 39-23 in the second half.
"I think in the second half some of our players thought that we had the game won and New Mexico came out and played hard and we didn't," said freshman forward Jason Smith to KCOL radio.
The guard play was not up as strong in the second half as it was in the first. Junior guard Micheal Morris had seven turnovers, and Sean Morris had three turnovers. The turnovers made it hard to get the team's offense started in the second half.
Matt Nelson led the Rams with 15 points. Smith put up 12 points and grabbed eight rebounds in 35 minutes.
The Lobos were led by forward Danny Grainger, who scored 19 points to lead all scorers in the game. The Lobos used a 17-0 run in the second half and held the Rams to nine scoreless minutes to put it away and take control of the game.
"Instead of playing cool and collect like we should of, we tried to force the ball and run with it," said head coach Dale Layer to KCOL. "I thought that our team played hard enough, shot the ball well enough, and played good defensively most of the game, just that last bit."
The Rams now look forward to the Mountain West Conference Tournament at the Pepsi Center this weekend in Denver. The Rams will match up against top-seeded Utah, who breezed through the conference season, recording a 13-1 record on the year.
"Utah is definitely the class of our conference," Layer said. "We'll have to play great for 40 minutes on Thursday to beat them."
The Rams will play at noon Thursday in the first round of the tournament.
"All in all, the defensive effort was great. You can't shut a team like that down the whole game; give them credit for picking it up the second half," Layer said.