Colorado State responded to its first loss of the season with an impressive outing against Drake University Wednesday night, winning 78-67.
The Rams (3-1, 0-0 MWC) answered most of the questions that were left after losing at home to Sam Houston State on Nov. 27.
Defense improved to hold the Drake Bulldogs (2-4, 0-0 MVC) to just 44 percent shooting and forcing 11 turnovers.
â€œIt was a good night. I thought we corrected some of our errors,â€ said CSU coach Tim Miles. â€œWe were better defensively. In the second half we stayed in our spots and being hard to score on.â€
While the defense looked strong through stretches of the game, the Rams did commit 23 fouls. But Drake could only convert 60 percent of its chances at the line.
Leading scorer Travis Franklin struggled to find his offensive rhythm, failing to reach double digits, but the slack was picked up by another strong game from senior forward Andy Ogide.
Ogide finished Wednesday nightâ€™s game with a double-double, 18 points and 10 rebounds, plus he shot 80 percent from the free throw line.
â€œ(The defense) started to loosen up a little bit toward the end of the game, but (Drake) was really packing it in at the beginning of the game,â€ Ogide said. â€œOnce Andre (McFarland) and everyone else started hitting threes, it opened up a little bit.â€
Forward Andre McFarland helped CSU improve from behind the three-point line, going 4 for 8.
McFarland finished behind Ogide in the scoring column with 16 points and contributed defensively with 2 steals.
â€œIt was fun,â€ McFarland said with a laugh. â€œFor the first time my back wasnâ€™t hurting during the game. I wasnâ€™t tight. It felt good to just go out there and relax.â€
Guard Wes Eikmeier added 11 points and 7 assists, including 2 three-pointers.
Early on it appeared as if the game would be a back-and-forth battle between the two schools, as CSU found itself down by three points in the first half.
It would be Drakeâ€™s largest lead of the game.
The Rams got hot at the end of the first half and into the second thanks in large part to the hustle and energy of sophomore forwards Peirce Hornung and Greg Smith.
The spark propelled CSU to a double-digit lead in the second half.
â€œItâ€™s amazing what a little extra effort, a little electricity out of a player will do for a team,â€ Miles said. â€œThe whole gym changed, and all the sudden we went from being a little bit down to a six-point lead. That was a big spark for us.â€
Drakeâ€™s leading scorer Rayvonte Rice tallied 14 points and 4 assists but fouled out of the game in the second half.
â€œIt hurt. Heâ€™s a freshman and heâ€™s learning how to play in different circumstances,â€ said Drake head coach Mark Phelps. â€œLooking back on it, we looked a step slow tonight. You have to give (CSU) credit, their intensity was really good.â€
CSUâ€™s next game is at home Saturday against Fresno State. Tip off is at 7 p.m.
Menâ€™s Basketball Beat Reporter Cris Tiller can be reached at email@example.com.