The Rams had two chances to tie the game with time winding down Saturday night but came up short as the BYU Cougars escaped Moby with their first road victory in almost a year.
Rams forward Jason Smith and guard Stephan Gilling each had a shot at sending the game into overtime, but it wasn't meant to be as BYU won a barn-burner, 86-84.
"Stephan (Gilling) is really strong around the basket," center Stuart Creason said following the game. "I thought it was a good play, but the ball didn't go in."
Trailing 85-84, Smith missed a six-footer with only 35 seconds remaining, and the Rams were forced to send BYU's Austin Ainge to the free throw line. Ainge connected on only one of two shots, leaving the Rams one final opportunity. Gilling drove through the lane but his shot missed, leaving the Rams with their fourth consecutive conference loss.
"I liked the effort our team had tonight," head coach Dale Layer said in the news conference. "It was a disheartening game, but hopefully good things will come from it."
CSU came out in the first half looking like the team from the beginning of the year, using the press to create four straight turnovers and jumping out to a 17-6 lead. The quick start faded however as the Cougars scored on seven straight possessions, building an eight-point lead. The Rams fought back to bring the score to 43-41 at the break.
The Cougars came out in the second half and used good guard play to break the CSU press and create some easy baskets.
"We had a hard time managing Ainge, he set up a lot of people," Layer said. "He was probably the difference in the game."
BYU (12-6, 4-3 MWC) used runs of eight and 11 in the second half and were up on the Rams by as much as 12 points with ten minutes remaining in the game.
"You could see it in our guys' attitudes today that they were going to come out and play well," BYU head coach Dave Rose said after the game. "To get a big emotional win really helps. I think our guys have grown up a bit."
The Rams were plagued with turnovers, coughing up 21 that resulted in 30 Cougar points.
"We need to start playing better defense and with more energy," Lewis said. "We can't let teams stay in the game."
Following the loss against Wyoming on Wednesday, the Rams had a 90-minute players-only meeting to discuss their struggles. But the Rams are still searching for answers after Saturday night's disappointing game.
"We talked about playing flat and having no energy out on the court," guard Cory Lewis said.
CSU (12-8, 1-6) now travels to Air Force, a team that sits at the top of the conference ladder. Game time is set for 7 p.m. in Colorado Springs where the Rams will look to end their 19-game conference road-losing streak.