The CSU Rams knew that the Boise State Broncos liked to run and featured plenty of scorers, but the Rams found out just how deep the Broncos were on Saturday, as six Broncos scored in double figures in their 85-76 victory. The loss marks the Rams 20th consecutive game in which CSU has come up empty on the road.
Kurt Cunningham scored 18 points on 8-10 shooting and Mark Sanchez finished with 16 points and 10 rebounds, pacing the Broncos, while Paul Noonan, Ike Okoye, Aaron Garner and La’Shard Anderson all also chipped in at least 12 points.
CSU head coach Tim Miles said entering the game that the Rams transition defense would be the key, and he didn’t feel it was up to par.
“We didn’t get enough stops, we weren’t good in transition and we fouled too much. That was really the game. We got to buck up and get ready for Colorado,” said Miles, according to CSURams.com.
Boise (6-1), who is 6-0 at home this season, made the Rams (3-5) pay for almost every foul, converting 22-26 free throws, while the Rams converted just 12-18.
CSU was led by 6-10 center Dan Vandervieren who set a career high with 12 rebounds and tied a career high with 15 points, in the process recording his first double-double as a Ram.
“When he gets someone he can lean on, someone of like size, he’s a pretty good player,” said Miles. “He was very good for us in a lot of ways and I was very proud of him tonight. I thought he even played better than he played against Minnesota.”
A bright spot for the Rams was the return of point guard Willis Gardner, who had missed four of the Rams previous five games with an ankle injury. Gardner, one of the Rams’ two seniors, came off the bench to play 23 minutes and added 10 points.
“He kept saying, ‘The ankle feels good,'” Miles said. “I felt like when Willis was in, I liked the way we were playing. He calms us. He kind of gives us what Stu Creason gave us last year, a calming influence.”
The Broncos pulled away from the Rams before halftime, taking a 12 point lead into the break. The Rams made a run in the second half, but like their last contest versus Nevada, they couldn’t get over the hump, despite pulling within three points of the Broncos on a couple of occasions.
CSU guard Marcus Walker was 0-8 in the first half, and despite scoring 13 points in the second, was still held below his average of 19 points. Guard Josh Simmons chipped in off the bench with 10 points, and guard Jesse Carr added nine points.
The Rams haven’t won a game in an opponent’s building since January 2007, almost two years ago, but they will try to end that streak on Wednesday, when they visit archrival Colorado. Tip off is set for 7 p.m.
Men’s basketball beat writer Matthew Pucak can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.