The CSU men's basketball team offered another record-tying performance (the first being a 6-0 start to the season) in Saturday night's 71-56 win over Pepperdine University. The Rams recorded 12 team blocks, tying a regular season school record en route to a 7-1 record.
Sophomore Jason Smith was the clear host of the block party in Moby Arena, registering five. Fellow big-man Michael Harrison added three.
CSU traded baskets with the Waves early, beginning with a Cory Lewis three pointer to start the game. The junior guard did not miss any of his three attempts from behind the arc and while shooting a perfect 100 percent from the field, registering 16 points, two assists and three rebounds.
"I thought Cory was the best player on the floor tonight," said head coach Dale Layer. "He continues to make great decisions down the stretch; I am thrilled with his play."
The Rams went on a 15-2 run midway through the first half to pull away from the visiting team 32-19. CSU's full court press proved to be too much for the Waves, as it created multiple turnovers before the half and fueled the Ram offense.
The crowd of nearly 4,000 erupted into a frenzy right before the half when Harrison threw down a dunk off a Sean Morris assist. The highlight play put an exclamation point on the Rams' 41-28 halftime lead.
The Waves' Michael Gerrity led the Pepperdine offense by scoring 17 points in the contest and seemed to give the CSU defense trouble at the guard position.
"Gerrity is the best point guard we have seen so far," Layer said.
Gerrity fouled out in the second half due to the relentless defensive pressure of Lewis and freshman guard Chris Harris.
The Rams came out of the locker room strong in the second half by stretching their lead to 50-30 with a Stephan Gilling three-pointer. The freshman guard finished the night 3-for-4 from three-point range with nine points. Smith showed he has some range on his shot as the 7-footer hit multiple jumpers on the night and finished with 16 points and eight rebounds.
Pepperdine put together a run of their own outscoring the Rams 15-2 to bring them within seven points. But it was CSU's deep bench that pulled the game out of reach for the Waves.
The Rams' bench outscored Pepperdine's 22-10.
"I thought our bench gave us a big lift, we had fresh legs when (Pepperdine) was tired…I thought that was the difference tonight," Layer said.
Sophomore Sean Morris led the charge off the bench with 10 points, along with fellow sophomore Stuart Creason's six.
CSU's defense once again rose to the occasion by holding Pepperdine to a dismal 29 percent shooting from the floor. The Rams are holding opponents to 36 percent shooting on the season.
"We are going to get better," Lewis said.
CSU will have a week off during finals and then will travel to Hawaii to compete in the Rainbow Classic. They will face Western Michigan on Dec. 20; all other games will be announced at a later date.
"We are looking for quality wins to get to the championship round…we know we can do it if we play our game," Lewis said.
Points 71 56
FG% 43% (24-56) 29% (19-65)
3 FG% 44% (8-18) 16% (3-19)
FT% 83% (15-18) 60% (15-25)
Assists 15 7
Steals 5 8
Blocks 12 5
Points in paint 20 18
Turnovers 11 10
CSU Points Rebounds Assists Blocks
Jason Smith 16 (6-15) 8 4 5
Michael Harrison 6 (3-6) 3 2 3
Cory Lewis 16 (4-4) 3 2 0
Michael Gerrity 17 (6-16) 1 2 0
Tashaan Forehan-Kelly 12 (4-8) 8 0 0