CSU men 89, UNLV 83 OT

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Jan 272004
 
Authors: Vince Blaser

Matt Nelson went down, Micheal Morris fouled out and the CSU

men’s basketball team almost blew up Monday night against Nevada –

Las Vegas.

Almost.

After blowing a 17-point lead in the second half, the Rams (10-8

overall, 2-3 Mountain West Conference) won their second consecutive

conference game at home in overtime, outlasting UNLV (10-6, 1-3)

89-83 in front of 4,362 fans at Moby Arena.

“That’s the most bizarre game I’ve ever been associated with,”

said CSU head coach Dale Layer after the game.

With 6:50 to play in the second half, Nelson fell backward hard

to the floor over Rebel forward James Peters, who was diving for a

rebound. Nelson, a 7-foot center and CSU’s leading scorer, sat out

the rest of the game holding his oft-injured right knee. Nelson

missed most of two games after injuring the knee Jan. 5 against

Montana State.

“It feels the same as when I hurt it against Montana State,”

said Nelson, who still led the Rams with 20 points. “I’m used to

it.”

The Rams led 60-44 when Nelson went down. After his departure,

the Rebels went on a 14-1 run over the next 3:14 to close the gap

to three points.

“That (when Nelson went down) is something that should be

helpful,” UNLV head coach Charlie Spoonhour said. “He just kills

your defense because you spend so much time worrying about

him.”

Morris fouled out of the game with 2:34 to play and the Rams

ahead 63-60. Freshman Dwight Boatner was brilliant filling in for

Morris, hitting six straight free throws and making a steal down

the stretch. He will be counted on to play at a similar level

Saturday against border rival Wyoming.

“(Boatner) was mature beyond his years tonight,” Layer said.

“When (Morris) fouled out, Boatner had to shoulder a lot of what

was going on.”

Boatner and forwards Matt Williams and Ronnie Clark dominated

the overtime for the Rams. Williams scored the first seven points

of the overtime for CSU, Boatner made a steal and key free throws

and Clark sealed the game with a lay-up, rebound and two free

throws in the last 13 seconds.

“It took (Williams) 40 minutes to get going but that last five

(minutes) he made big play after big play,” Layer said.

With Nelson out indefinitely, the Rams will need Williams,

Clark, Morris and Shelton Johnson – who missed four free throws

toward the end of regulation, which gave UNLV the chance to tie the

score – to carry the offensive and defensive load.

Another factor could be the outside shooting of guard John

Rakiecki who posted a career-high 19 points.

The first installment of the CSU-Wyoming Border War begins at 7

p.m. at CSU’s Auditorium-Arena

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