The CSU basketball team rode a hot streak from the most unlikely of sources Monday to an 85-75 win over the University of Texas-San Antonio.
Little-used walk-on Kaipo Sabas, a graduate of Rocky Mountain High School in Fort Collins, had a career-high 15 points to spark the CSU win.
As they did in a blowout loss on Saturday to the University of Southern Mississippi, the Rams came out flat, falling behind 11-4 in the early stages.
But this time they fought back. And the ignition came in the form of Sabas, the senior guard whose previous career-high in points was six.
He matched that in the first half, hitting two threes including one that gave CSU a 25-23 lead, its first advantage of the game.
â€œThe coaches always tell me just be ready whenever,â€ Sabas said. â€œYou never know when youâ€™re opportunity is going to come. Thatâ€™s what I did. I always stay waiting whether coach needs me for 30 seconds or line tonight when he needs me for a lot of minutes.â€
It was more of the same in the second half as Sabas took over the game.
On three straight CSU possessions Sabas hit threes on all of them, he also grabbed a steal in the middle as the Rams lead grew from one at half, to five in less than three minutes.
For the night Sabas ended with 15 points, three assists and four rebounds.
â€œKaipo has been very good in practice,â€ coach Tim Miles said. â€œHeâ€™s done what you saw him do tonight on the scout team. Weâ€™d already played some other guys and I hadnâ€™t seen anything that I was really excited about. So, I trust Kaipo.â€
But despite the heroics of Sabas, UTSA still made CSU sweat to the end.
The game went back and forth with eight lead changes in the second half, but a Dwight Smith three-pointer with just under seven minutes remaining to give CSU a lead it would not relinquish.
The Rams clamped down on defense late, allowing only 12 points in the last nine minutes of the game.
CSU was able to find a balanced attack that had been missing early in the season, with five players scoring over 10 points.
â€œWe found different guys. Kaipo came off the bench and hit a bunch of shots,â€ said Wes Eikmeier who had a team-high 18 points. â€œDwight (Smith) did a good job coming inâ€¦Will Bell had a great game.â€
The Rams now have a chance to build some momentum when they play Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m. against the University of Manhattan at Moby Arena.
Assistant Sports Editor Kevin Lytle can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.