While the majority of the CSU Rams saw their Mountain West Conference tournament lives end on the court, Andy Ogide had to watch from the locker room.
The Rams (16-15) lost a thriller to the San Diego State Aztecs (22-8) Wednesday afternoon in the opening round of the MWC Championships in Las Vegas. CSU was without the services of Ogide for the majority of the contest after the junior was ejected from the game with six minutes left in the first half.
The Rams fought hard, even without their leading scorer on the court. CSU took a 71-70 lead with 1:27 left in the game off a Dorian Green layup and made foul shot.
SDSU answered back with 23 seconds left as guard D.J. Gay hit a pair of free throws to take a 72-71 lead.
CSU took possession but threw the ball out of bounds with seven seconds left. After a foul and an Aztecs missed free throw the Rams had one last chance to pull off the upset, but couldnâ€™t do it. CSU guard Travis Buschâ€™s last second shot failed to go down as the Rams lost a heartbreaker 72-71.
Head coach Tim Miles said he wished the outcome was different, but credited his team for playing as hard as they did.
â€œWe just didnâ€™t make a couple of plays at the end of the game really,â€ he said on a post-game interview on 560 KLZ-AM. â€œI thought our kids played hard, played through a lot of things like adversity and tension and those sort of things.â€
Adam Nigon led the Rams with 18 points and two rebounds. Twelve of the juniorâ€™s points came from behind the three-point line. Freshman Dorian Green added 12 points and four assists and a steal in the loss.
The Rams started out strong in the game, jumping out to a 7-0 lead thanks to a pair of jump shots from Ogide and a three-pointer from Nigon.
The Rams took a big hit with just over six minutes into the half when Ogide was called for an offensive foul after his elbow connected with the face of SDSU center Brian Cartwell. Refereeâ€™s reviewed the play and ejected Ogide from the game. The Georgia native left the court with six points and four rebounds.
Ogideâ€™s technical was one of three the Rams received in the first half. Miles, who also picked up an early technical foul, said he thought Ogide was fouled on the play, but said he understands the call.
â€œMy feelings were Andy got fouled and retaliated with a foul,â€ he said. â€œThe refs made the right call, no place for that in a game like this. Itâ€™s unfortunate because he (Ogide) is a great kid. Those things happen.â€
The Rams kept it together following Ogideâ€™s ejection, but were not the same team and went into the locker at half trailing 41-33.
Miles said he was proud of his team for not giving up on the game at half time.
â€œYouâ€™re down eight at halftime to a team like San Diego State and youâ€™ve seen these NCAA games,â€ he said. â€œYou see some teams folding, just cashing it in and our team could have done that but we didnâ€™t. Iâ€™m proud of them. Itâ€™s just disappointing we didnâ€™t make the two plays at the end.â€
With the loss CSU loses all hope of an NCAA Tournament berth and will likely be left out of the National Invitational Tournament as well.
CSU will likely participate in the postseason in either the College Basketball Invitational and CollegeInsider.com Tournament. The two tournaments are reserved for team who do not make the NCAA Tournament or the NIT.
Assistant Sports Editor Adam Bohlmeyer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.