Dec 042003
 
Authors: Steve Latuda

Coming off of a road trip that saw the Rams fall hard both to

Oklahoma State and Auburn, the CSU Rams men’s basketball team

knocked off last year’s Southwestern Athletic Conference champs,

the Texas Southern Tigers, 91-66.

Coach Dale Layer said one can only imagine how nice it is to be

home.

Jon Rakiecki’s four 3-pointers, three of which came in the first

half, gave the Rams exactly what they needed Tuesday night at Moby

Arena.

“It felt good to make four of them,” Rakiecki said. “But it felt

better to get the victory.”

With the Rams leading 31-26 in the first half, Shelton Johnson

found a soaring Micheal Morris in midair and connected on an

ally-oop that brought the Moby crowd to its feet. The crowd’s roar

even lit up the electronic Ram hanging behind the band.

The Rams took a 47-38 lead into the locker room and in the

second half they never looked back.

CSU’s pressure defense and inside play, particularly the play of

junior forward Matt Williams, were too much for the Tigers and

helped the Rams (4-2) post their fourth victory of the season as

they easily ran away from Texas Southern (1-3).

Rakiecki was not the only Ram draining 3-pointers, as Freddy

Robinson drained two on the night and both Dwight Boatner and

Johnson hit one.

“Our perimeter guys came out much more aggressive tonight,”

Layer said. “They set the tone for us.”

Rakiecki ended the night with 13 points, while 7-foot center

Matt Nelson chipped in 17 and Williams contributed 12.

“Jon played his best game in a Ram uniform so far in his

career,” Layer said.

Boatner was the defensive catalyst as he continually shut down

the Tigers’ point guards. Boatner finished the night with three

steals and one block.

“Coach (Layer) wants me to set the tone on defense,” Boatner

said. “So that is what I try to do.”

“He gave us great momentum,” Layer said of Boatner. “Dwight is

showing much more savvy then most freshmen have.”

The Rams now prepare to face off against the Gardner-Webb

Bulldogs, who bring a 2-4 record into Moby Arena on Saturday

night.

Though 2-4, the Bulldogs have faced some stiff competition in

the likes of the 3-1 Clemson Tigers of the Atlantic Coast

Conference and the 4-0 Kansas State Wildcats of the Big 12.

“Kansas State beat them at the buzzer,” Layer said of the

Wildcats’ three-point victory of Gardner-Webb. “They are a much

better team then they were a year ago when we beat them.”

The Bulldogs will search for size to match against Nelson but

are led by 6-6 forward Brain Bender, who averages 13 points and 5.5

rebounds per game.

GWU is 0-4 on the road, while the Rams are 2-0 at home. This

will be the second of three straight home games for CSU. The third

will be Wednesday night against in-state rival Colorado.

Tip time for Saturday’s Gardner-Webb game is 7 p.m.

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