Untimely turnovers, missed defensive assignments and empty offensive possessions doomed the Rams late against the TCU Horned Frogs.
CSU (15-13, 6-8 MWC) lost 73-67 to TCU in Fort Worth, Texas Saturday night.
Up by nine points with 8:02 left to play, the Rams went scoreless for nearly four minutes and TCU used a 9-0 run to tie the game at 61.
Trading baskets until the final minute, CSU re-took the lead and momentum on a three-pointer by freshman point guard Dorian Green to put the Rams up 67-66 with 1:21 left to play.
They would not score again as TCU reeled off the gameâ€™s final seven points.
â€œWe had three empty possessions and missed some free throws,â€ said head coach Tim Miles. â€œThose are recipes for a loss.â€
The loss, the Rams fourth in a row, was similar to losses against New Mexico and San Diego State earlier this season. Making plays down the stretch in the final minutes of the game has been a struggle for the Rams.
Some of those struggles have been the lack of guards and ball-handlers other than freshman point guard Dorian Green.
â€œWeâ€™re lacking guards and that has really hindered us in situations and some of it is leadership and some from lack of experience,â€ Miles said.
CSU had its opportunities to score the go-ahead basket in the final minute, but confusion on the play-calling led to rushed three-point attempts by guard Adam Nigon.
â€œOn consecutive possessions we ran the wrong play and didnâ€™t get the shot we wanted,â€ Miles said. â€œJust little errors like that hurt us.â€
The loss squandered a great performance by center Andy Ogide. The junior played his best game of the season, scoring 19 points and grabbing a career-high 15 rebounds. He even made his first three-pointer of the year.
â€œI was playing free and just playing the game, letting the game come to me,â€ Ogide said. â€œI didnâ€™t put pressure on myself.â€
Green added 14 points and dished out four assists.
Senior center Zvonko Buljan led TCU with 17 points and 11 rebounds and guard Greg Hill came off the bench to pitch in 16 for the Horned Frogs.
TCU shot 58 percent in the second half and went 7-12 from three-point range.
â€œI was disappointed in our defensive intensity and we missed some assignments,â€ Miles said. â€œWe let them come back into this game. We were out of position and fouled too much.â€
After draining six three-pointers earlier this week against New Mexico, guard Adam Nigon went cold against TCU, shooting 1-9 from three-point range. He scored nine points in 28 minutes.
A game-time decision, Nigon played through with a tender groin and Miles said he was not 100 percent.
â€œAdam was OK,â€ Miles said. â€œHe struggled defensively and let his man get by him a couple of times. But heâ€™s a tough kid and was going to play and weâ€™re better with him out there.â€
The Rams return to the court Wednesday at San Diego State.
Menâ€™s Basketball Beat Reporter Stephen Meyers can be reached at email@example.com.