If you needed any more proof that the final four games of the regular season mean a lot to the CSU Rams, just ask Marcus Walker.
The Rams (9-18 4-9 MWC) snuck by the Air Force Falcons (9-17, 0-13 MWC) Saturday afternoon at Clune arena, picking up a 71-66 victory and earning the team’s first win in the past 19 road games.
Walker, a senior, said he was more than excited to get the victory, explaining that this one personally meant a lot, especially after losing to Utah in overtime just three days earlier.
“We needed that one, we needed that one,” the guard said with a smile. “It’s the first road win in my entire career, so I’m feeling it right now. Every win is a good win, but we needed this one.”
Head coach Tim Miles said he was most happy for the two seniors on the team — Walker and fellow guard Willis Gardner — and said that ending the road losing streak meant the most to them.
“I talked about it with them and said our clock is ticking and we don’t want this thing hanging over us,” he said. “They didn’t want that and came out playing inspired basketball.”
The Rams survived an impressive effort from Air Force senior Andrew Henke, who posted a new career point total in the loss with 29, including six three pointers.
Walker, who scored 20 points in the win, gave credit to the Falcons and Henke for playing tough but said the Rams needed this game to finish the season strong. The Kansas City native jubilantly skipped off the court after dribbling the ball out in the final seconds of the game.
“They played a good game, and Henke had an outstanding game. When it’s flowing like that, it’s going,” Walker said about Henke’s performance. “Just dribbling it out, I was thinking about all the games we lost on the road, all the hard work we put in and what coach Miles does for us. It just feels good for a program to have a win on the road like this, especially in the state.”
With the loss, Air Force falls to 0-13 in conference play, the exact position the Rams were in just a season ago. Although he was disappointed with the loss, Henke still has hope for the little time left in Air Force’s season.
“We have nothing left to worry about but playing as hard as we can,” the guard said. “That’s what we are going to do.”
Miles said he can easily see similarities between this year’s Falcons and last year’s Rams: Mainly a need for more talent.
“He (Air Force head coach Jeff Reynolds) has good players, not enough of them,” Miles said. “We had some good players, not enough of them. We’re all working to move ourselves to the upper division in the league.”
Up next for the Rams is the second installment of this season’s Border War, as the Rams host the Wyoming Cowboys in Moby Arena on Wednesday night.
Men’s basketball beat reporter Adam Bohlmeyer can be reached at email@example.com.