The Colorado State menâ€™s basketball team won for the fourth time in its first five games on Saturday night, defeating future conference nemesis Fresno State 87-74 at Moby Arena.
The Rams (4-1, 0-0 MWC) were able to wear down the Bulldogs with consistent ball pressure, leading to 19 Fresno State turnovers.
Offensively, the Rams had an efficient night from the floor, shooting 52 percent from three-point range, and 59 percent overall.
CSU coach Tim Miles was pleased with what he saw â€“â€“ for the most part.
â€œI thought our defensive energy was good,â€ Miles said. â€œThe downside of that is I thought that translated into a little bit of nervous energy on offense. Youâ€™ve got to play one speed on defense, really hard, and then gear it down and play another speed on offense. We got going too fast at times.â€
Senior forward Andy Ogide led the way for the Rams with his second straight double-double, tallying 16 points and 11 rebounds in the winning effort. Ogide, who was matched up with Fresno Stateâ€™s 6-foot-10 center Greg Smith, was not phased despite giving up considerable size to his opponent.
â€œHeâ€™s one the strongest players Iâ€™ve played against this year,â€ Ogide said. â€œI tried to use my quickness as an advantage against him.â€
Along with a strong offensive output, Ogide managed to keep the pressure on the Bulldogsâ€™ big man, forcing Smith into 5 turnovers and holding him to just 6 points.
The Rams led by as many as 13 points in the first half before letting the lead slip to just five at the break. The Bulldogs (1-5. 0-0 WAC) closed the half hitting four consecutive three-point shots in a span of 1:30. The game would be tied at 39 just a minute into the second half.
â€œ(Coach Miles) ripped us a new one at halftime,â€ said senior Andre McFarland. â€œHe let us know that momentum shouldnâ€™t shift their way, we should keep it.â€
The Rams took the lead a few moments later on a pair of Wes Eikmeier free throws and never relinquished it again.
The 87-point performance is the Ramsâ€™ fifth game of 80 or more points this season (including pre-season), something Miles attributes to the right collection of personnel.
â€œItâ€™s finally that balance in our offense,â€ Miles said. â€œIâ€™m not a system guy, Iâ€™m a personnel guy. Weâ€™ve needed outside guys, drivers and inside guys, and we finally have that. Itâ€™s the first time since Iâ€™ve been here that weâ€™ve been able to put all those guys on the floor.â€
The Rams enjoyed their best three-point shooting night of the young season, hitting 9 of 17 shots from long range. McFarland, who leads the team with 11 three-pointers this season, added three more to his total on Saturday.
While Ogide and McFarland provided the Rams with a strong inside-outside threat, Travis Franklin did his work in between, attacking the rim and drawing fouls. Franklin, who struggled last season hitting just 55 percent of his free throws, was a perfect 7-of-7 from the line on Saturday.
â€œYeah, about that,â€ said Franklin, with a smile. â€œItâ€™s all confidence. I knew I could make them. I just need to shoot the same shot every time.â€
The next time these two sides meet, the game will have conference implications as Fresno State plans to join the Mountain West Conference in 2012-13. The players were glad to make a final impression on the Bulldogs before they join the conference.
â€œItâ€™s good to send them a message what the Mountain West is about,â€ Ogide said.
Assistant Sports Editor Joel Hafnor can be reached at email@example.com.