It wasnâ€™t conventional.
It wasnâ€™t pretty.
But it was a win.
After letting Manhattan College make up 10 points in less than five minutes at the end of regulation, CSU was forced to go into overtime in a game it had led virtually the entire time.
But the Rams were able to win 91-86 in the extra frame behind six points from junior Wes Eikmeier, who ended as the high scorer on CSU with 23 in the game.
â€œI just wanted to be aggressive,â€ Eikmeier said of his play in overtime. â€œThey were switching up defenses and doing a good job. We knew they were a team prone to fouling so as long as we were attacking them we knew we were probably going to end up at the free throw line.â€
The overtime capped a wild, foul-filled evening.
There were 61 fouls called and 90 free throws attempted.
CSU (4-2) shot 54 free throws. For the night the Rams made more free throws (43) than they attempted field goals (40).
The number of free throw attempts fell two short of a CSU record, but the number of makes was the most a Ram team has ever made in a game.
â€œIt doesnâ€™t surprise me on back-to-back nights,â€ coach Tim Miles said of the high number of fouls and turnovers (30 total). â€œWhen I was a Division-II coach we played Friday-Saturdayâ€™s and that Saturday nightâ€™s always a grind. And against a team like Manhattan itâ€™s always a street fight with those guys.â€
The win helped CSU escape with a win that looked like it was in the bag.
The Rams led by 15 at half after only giving up 22 points in the opening 20 minutes. But CSUâ€™s defensive intensity dropped off after the break.
â€œI think we came out really focused with high energy on defense (in the first half). We got some steals,â€ guard Dorian Green said. â€œIn the second half I thought we were too complacent with our lead and didnâ€™t have the same intensity that we started the game with.â€
With seven minutes left in the game the Rams were still up by 16.
But a combination of sloppy CSU defense and clutch shooting by Manhattan allowed the game to be within a possession in the final seconds.
And Michael Alverado made the Rams pay when he hit a three in the final seconds to send the game to overtime.
â€œWe knew they were going to fight. Just knowing who theyâ€™ve played and the way theyâ€™ve played we knew they were a fighting team until the end,â€ Eikmeier said. â€œThe only disappointing part was that it was in our hands in the end. We kind of gave them the opportunity.â€
But CSU was able to save face and hold on for its second consecutive win. The Rams now have a week off before playing CU-Boulder at home on Nov. 30.
â€œFound a way to win,â€ Miles said. â€œWasnâ€™t pretty, but weâ€™re not giving it back.â€
Assistant Sports Editor Kevin Lytle can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.