The CSU Rams were facing a 32-point deficit in the second half Saturday but they refused to quit, cutting the Minnesota Golden Gophers lead down to 14, before succumbing 91-74 Saturday night in Minneapolis, Minn.
It may seem difficult to see a silver-lining in a 17-point loss, but Rams’ coach Tim Miles found his team’s refusal to give up despite facing a tough atmosphere, and even tougher opponent, promising.
“I commend our players, not one guy laid down,” Miles said. “Sometimes when a young team gets down in front of 12,000 people here, they give. They didn’t, they continued to focus on the next play. I am really proud of the effort of these guys.
“We are going to get better. We didn’t let the scoreboard get us down. They let the scoreboard beat them in Montana but they didn’t let it happen tonight.”
The Gophers used their aggressive defense to force the Rams into 17 turnovers while using a very balanced offense put up their most points since 2005.
Forward Dan Coleman scored 22 points and grabbed 11 rebounds, while fellow big man, center Spencer Tollackson, scored 16 points for the Gophers. They were the only starters to reach double-figures for Minnesota, but four players off the Gopher bench combined to score 44 points, led by a career high 21 points from freshman guard Blake Hoffarber, who was 6-11 from 3-point range.
Rams center Stuart Creason was held to just four points by the collapsing Minnesota defense, but added 11 rebounds. Junior gaurds Willis Gardner and Marucs Walker paced the Rams on offense, scoring 19 and 18 points, respectively.
The Rams have a week off before their contest next Saturday on the road against Miles’ former school, North Dakota State.