Six seniors said goodbye to Moby Arena Saturday, but none had a better farewell than the trio of Travis Busch, Mike Annese and Mame Bocar Ba.
All three played crucial roles in the Ramsâ€™ 76-67 victory over Utah.
Their performances were more critical considering the teamâ€™s stars, Andy Ogide and Dorian Green, who had subpar performances.
Busch scored 12 points and dished out three assists, Annese played full court, lock-down defense and scored seven points and Bocar Ba provided an intimidating presence in the paint while scoring nine points.
â€œI thought Mike Annese and Bocar were the story of the game, picking up where others were letting down a little bit,â€ said head coach Tim Miles.
Busch is the steady starter providing points for a guard-thin offensive unit.
Annese, the back-up point guard, who in limited minutes plays solid defense and makes timely three-pointers.
Bocar Ba is the enforcer off the bench, blocking shots and battling in the paint for every rebound.
Miles especially will miss the contributions of Bocar Ba.
â€œBo delivers a blow. When people come in there, they bounce off him and he blocks shots and provides a real presence,â€ Miles said. â€œBo is a guy that is really meaningful. We wouldnâ€™t have won this many games without Bocar in the middle.â€
Bocar Ba, native of Dakar, Senegal, transferred to CSU from the College of Southern Idaho. His nine points Saturday were a career-high.
â€œItâ€™s our last home game, so we wanted to go out there and have fun,â€ Bocar Ba said.
Annese doesnâ€™t play many minutes per game, but his biggest contribution is seen during practice. Annese runs the point position for the scout team â€“â€“ an important role when preparing for an opponent.
â€œHeâ€™s been really good on the scout team,â€ Miles said. â€œI thought he was really critical for us tonight and I think he should come to my office and say, â€˜Why am I not playing more?â€™â€
A transfer from the University of Minnesota, Busch played against CSU last season. He has been vital to the teamâ€™s resurgence this year, providing leadership to a team that won only nine games last season.
He has enjoyed his only season at CSU.
â€œItâ€™s awesome. Thereâ€™s a lot of good guys here. Iâ€™ve been a part of a team before thatâ€™s been down in the dumps and turned it around,â€ Busch said. â€œIt was special and a fun time.â€
In total, six seniors said goodbye to Moby Saturday: Busch, Annese, Bocar Ba, Arin Dunn, Michael Lebsack and Harvey Perry.
All six transferred from other colleges.
â€œI call these guys the Statue of Liberty group. Thereâ€™s guys from all over and all walks of life that have got together. And they bid on us when nobody else was,â€ Miles said. â€œTheyâ€™re here when thereâ€™s no tradition. They were coming to play for coach Miles when it was 0-16 in the league. It didnâ€™t look promising.â€
Now the team heads to Las Vegas for the MWC Championships as the fifth seed with hopes of making a three-game run, which would land them as a Cinderella team in the NCAA Tournament.
The Rams (16-14, 7-9 MWC) will face San Diego State Thursday.
Menâ€™s Basketball Beat Reporter Stephen Meyers can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org._