After four games in seven days, the CSU men's basketball team has a lot to be thankful for. After three straight wins at Moby Arena, the team traveled to play Indianapolis University- Purdue University and was handed its first loss.
Versus IUPUI on Saturday, the Rams were led by junior center Matt Nelson, who recorded his fifth career double-double, scoring 11 points and grabbing 10 rebounds in 22 minutes of play. The Rams went down 40-27 at half and struggled through most of the game.
Turnovers, which have plagued the Rams in their first four games, continued to hurt them and may have cost them the game. CSU turned the ball over 17 times and IUPUI capitalized with 30 points off those turnovers.
Junior Brandon Cole, who tallied career highs in points with 23 and steals with seven, led IUPUI. He also pulled down 10 rebounds on the night. CSU lost by a final score of 77-67.
The Rams hosted Nebraska-Omaha on Wednesday, winning 88-64 thanks to a strong second-half push. CSU went into the half leading by three, but with forward Matt Williams controlling much of the game in the second half, CSU pulled too far ahead for the UNO Mavericks.
Williams scored 19 of his game-high 25 points in the second half while recording his second career double-double with 11 rebounds.
The Rams survived quite a scare from Northern Colorado in front of 2,679 fans on Monday. Another slow first half by the Rams enabled UNC to jump out to a 38-29 lead.
"(UNC) outplayed and out-coached us in the first half," said head coach Dale Layer. "They came out with more energy."
Surviving the deficit, which reached 14 at one point in the first half, the Rams came to play in the second half. The Rams followed Michael Morris' lead and fought back with an 11-0 run, with eight points coming from Morris.
"We need to have better energy and take better care of the ball," Morris said. "(UNC) had no business leading at halftime."
CSU took control of the game and never relinquished the lead, winning 76-68.
"We came out and played much better in the second half," Layer said. "We were able to go inside, wear them down. Defensively, we were much better in the second half."
The Rams' first game of the recess was against Regis on Nov. 20. It was a game in which CSU was still searching for chemistry, and it showed in the first half. CSU looked to find the best possible lineup, switching many guys in and out of the game in the first half. The Rams had a hard time stopping Austin Christensen of Regis in the first half as he went 4-8 from the field leading all scorers at the half with 11.
"We definitely played smarter in the second half against Christensen; we didn't go for as many shot fakes. We stayed on the ground and played team defense," said junior guard Andrew Patterson, who had 11 points in 19 minutes in the game.
CSU came out in the second half looking like a new team. Leading 47-32 early in the second half, the Rams put together a 19-0 run over a six-minute period to put the game away.
"Jason Smith and Andrew Patterson certainly stepped it up tonight, these are guys that are going to help us down the road," Layer said.
CSU won the game 78-49 to notch its first win of the season.
The Rams will next travel to Alabama to play Auburn on Tuesday.