They can’t put a finger on what is going wrong, but nothing seems to be going right for the Rams.
On Saturday, CSU was defeated for a fifth straight game, a startling swoon for a team that had reeled off nine straight wins at one point in the season, and less than a month ago was in sole possession of second place in the Mountain West Conference.
The Rams were undone by a 24-4 San Diego State run in the middle of the second half that turned a hard-fought game into an 81-66 blowout, after a start that saw the Rams sticking with the Aztecs for the entire first half,
CSU Head Coach Dale Layer felt that the Aztecs clinched the game with three straight 3-pointers during the decisive run.
“When they are making a run it really rakes your emotion out of (the game), and when they made those three straight (3-pointers), those were daggers,” said Layer, whose Rams dropped to 14-9 overall, and 4-7 in conference play.
The Aztec run coincided with the Rams being unable to get several lay-ups and short jumpers to fall, and CSU guard Tyler Smith felt the missed shots on the offensive end may have impacted the Rams’ defense.
“The better we play offensively, the better our defense would be. We still get out there and play defense, but I don’t think we play with the same intensity as when we are hitting our shots,” said Smith, who led the Rams with 16 points.
Colorado State did a good job defending reigning MWC Player of the Year Brandon Heath for much of the contest, but all seven of the Aztecs that played made big contributions, with four Aztecs reached double figures in scoring.
Heath, who was averaging 18.8 points per game entering the contest, was held to three points in the first half, before scoring 11 in the second to end with 14. Mohamed Akubar led SDSU with 19 points, and guard Jimmie Williams accumulated 18 points.
The Rams can’t seem to figure out what their ailment has been recently, but forward Jason Smith feels they need to get back to the basics.
“We’re just not playing as a team. We’ve been struggling with that the last couple games, and we’ve got to get back to fundamental defense and offense,” said Smith, who amassed 13 points and 12 rebounds.
For the second straight game Jason Smith came off the bench in an effort to keep him out of foul trouble, and it seemed to work. He played 30 minutes, with nine points and eight rebounds in the first half. Smith, like all the Rams, struggled mightily in the second half, not recording his first points of the period until the 7:31 mark, after the Aztecs had put the game away.
The Rams have a quick turnaround before hosting TCU on Tuesday night, and they know that no practice or meeting will turn around their recent slide; it will take a victory over the Horned Frogs.
“It is just time to get a win. Ain’t too much more that needs to be said,” said Tyler Smith.
Staff writer Matt Pucak can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.