The CSU basketball team ran the gamut of emotions in the last 15 seconds of Wednesday’s game against CU-Boulder.
They felt the crushing feeling of a game let slip away when guard Nate Tomlinson scored off a stolen in-bounds pass to give CU a 64-63 lead with 14 seconds left.
Then it was the thrill of a last-second victory when Dorian Green put a shot in off the glass with nine seconds left to make it 65-64 CSU.
“I was actually shocked at how open I was,” Green said. “We just pushed the ball and swung it. At a time like that, chaos works to your advantage.”
The Rams then had horrible flashbacks of a last-second defeat a year ago to San Diego State when Tomlimson fired a three-pointer as time expired.
“I thought Tomlinson’s shot was going in,” CSU coach Tim Miles said. “I had an angle on it; it looked like it was going in. I thought all kinds of bad thoughts and bad words, but it just went out.”
As Tomlinson’s shot bounced away, CSU had the relief of victory and rush of emotion as 6,481 fans rushed the court at Moby Arena.
Since CSU (5-2) won, it will likely be remembered as the game of the year. But if Tomlinson’s shot had fallen, it would have been a loss that could have gnawed at them for the entire season.
Before the late layup, CU’s last lead was 24-22 in the first half, but the Rams carried the play late in the half and a Dwight Smith steal and dunk sent CSU into the break with a seven-point lead.
The Rams got a five-point possession in the first minute of the half when Wes Eikmeier hit two free throws off of a technical foul on CU (4-3), then he hit a three-pointer to put CSU up 10.
That lead grew to 12 less than four minutes into the second half.
The Rams were able to maintain a lead all half and with 1:26 left in the game CSU led by eight and looked like it would win comfortably.
But late free throw misses kept the Rams from winning easily. CSU missed three in the final minutes of the game, and two of those were the front end of a one-and-one.
But if the Rams feel that free throws almost cost them, CU will rue its free throw shooting all the way back to Boulder.
The Buffs went 13-29 from the line on the night, a paltry 45 percent.
“Every guy that plays is shooting over 75 percent in practice,” CU coach Tad Boyle said. “We are not translating that into games. How I do that, I don’t have an answer. I’m sure I will get a lot of advice from everybody and their mother will tell me how to do it.”
The win is nice retribution for CSU after losing 90-83 in overtime to CU in Boulder a year ago. And the team hopes it will give them momentum as they start to hit a key stretch on the season.
“I think it’s very important,” Miles said of the win. “You can never beat CU enough. I thought our fans needed a real shot in the arm, a rally cry, and hopefully this gives them that.”
Assistant Sports Editor Kevin Lytle can be reached at email@example.com.
Final: CU: 64 CSU: 65
- Wes Eikmeier: 19 points
- Dorian Green: 9 points, 9 rebounds
- Dwight Smith: 5 points, 4 rebounds, 3 steals