Feb 152004
 
Authors: Josh Pilkington

To win a game with no inside presence is tough; to win a game

without a leading scorer is difficult; to win a game with the only

active leading scorer having an off night…that is impossible.

CSU battled its way back from several double-digit deficits in

front of 5,519 emotional fans Saturday night at Moby Arena, but was

unable to close the gap on the bigger, healthier Utes of Utah

80-70.

“We couldn’t make up for the difference in size,” said head

coach Dale Layer whose team faces Brigham Young at 10 p.m. Monday

at Moby in a nationally-televised game. “It definitely hurt us on

the rebounding end. The difference was we made runs and Andrew

Bogut got put-backs. Those were back-breaking plays.”

Indeed, the 6-foot-10 Bogut (16 points, 10 rebounds) had his way

inside against the Rams, while guards Tim Drisdom (career-high 24

points) and Nick Jacobson (22 points) kept CSU at bay with

consistent outside shooting.

Meanwhile CSU shot a paltry 39 percent from the floor on

25-of-59 shooting.

The ugly shooting started early for the Rams as the team missed

its first nine shots and was down 12-1 until guard Dwight Boatner

hit a 3-pointer 6 minutes, 20 seconds into the first half. A

subsequent 12-6 CSU run brought the Rams within two points at

18-16, but that was the closest the team would get the rest of the

game.

“It takes a lot out of you trying to come back against a good

team like the Utes,” said guard Micheal Morris, who kept CSU in the

game with clutch scoring. “Coach told us to push it every time we

could. We kept trying to, but didn’t have enough at the end.”

The Rams used another late run in the first half to close a

30-19 Ute lead to 34-23. Morris then converted a fade-away jumper

into a three-point play with 3.2 seconds to end the half on a high

note.

The momentum from that shot, however, did not carry over into

the second half, as CSU quickly went down again after a series of

blown scoring opportunities.

“We had some good shots, but just couldn’t get guys to make the

shots,” Layer said.

Williams was one of many who struggled from the field, missing

his first nine shots and failing to convert until 3:40 remained in

the second half.

“Normally (Williams) is going to make those shots, but they

weren’t falling (Saturday),” Layer said of the forward who,

nevertheless, hustled his way to a game-high 11 rebounds. “He’ll

bounce back from this. … That’s what we need him to do.”

Unable to convert open looks, CSU faced a 13-point deficit

(40-27), before the team went on another run. Five free throws from

Williams and Shelton Johnson and another three-point play from

Morris, cut the Ute lead to five (42-37) and brought the crowd to

its feet.

Jacobson, however, quickly hushed the crowd by making a

3-pointer and a subsequent free throw for a four-point play.

“We keep playing hard and when you play hard good things will

happen,” Layer said. “Unfortunately, it didn’t go our way

tonight.”

It was going Jacobson’s way, however, thanks in part to the

standout game from Drisdom.

“I got to hand it to Drisdom, he stepped up tonight,” Jacobson

said. “It gets difficult when there are two guys on me and he’s not

making shots. He’s capable of (hitting shots) every night.”

While Drisdom took some defensive pressure off Jacobson, the

crowd applied psychological pressure. Early in the second half

Jacobson tangled with Johnson and drew the ire of the home crowd,

which booed him with each touch the rest of the game.

“I noticed them,” said Jacobson of the fans. “How could you not?

… It affected me a little. I did some things, took some quick

shots, I wouldn’t normally do. I was more aggressive. … I wanted

to make (a shot) with all the booing.”

Though unable to contain the boos, Jacobson was able to impede

another late Ram run with timely defensive stops and two late free

throws that gave Utah its winning margin.

“We’ve got to forget about this game, put it behind us,” said

Boatner, who had career high in points with 16. “We’re gonna be on

ESPN (Monday against BYU), so we’re gonna come out juiced and fired

up ready to defend our home court.”

The good: Boatner and Morris continuously brought the Rams back

into the game with clutch shots and timely steals.

The Bad: Matt Williams hustled all night, but could not get a

shot to fall. The 6-foot-6 junior missed his first nine shots

before converting a layup with 3:40 left in the game.

The Ugly: Jacobson and Johnson were jawing throughout the game,

said Jacobson of the tussle: “I have no hard feelings against (No.)

22, he was just trying to compete and that is what happens

sometimes.”

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